I had pleaded with him to let me have the Tokunbo (used) table refrigerator for just N5,000 (five thousand Naira) but he insisted he would only give me for free…

Why wouldn’t I, an ordinary Youth Corper (with a monthly allawee of N7,500 always short of the 10% bank deductions) jump at such a juicy offer?

Because his “free” wasn’t truly free. He wanted strings attached which I was unwilling to tie. I already had a boyfriend and wouldn’t even go into a conditional relationship…

Let’s call him Rony because the truth is- I can’t recall his real name. Rony was an artisan whose expertise laid in refrigerator repairs. He also attended the same church I attended while I faithfully served my dear Country Nigeria in Kaltungo- Gombe State, North-east Nigeria. This was in 2003.

So why did I even want a fridge? Abi na ojukokoro? Maybe not.

You see, I served as a classroom teacher at the School of Health Technology,  Kaltungo. I taught a 2 hours class only twice a week (Tuesdays & Thursdays). The rest of the week was left to idle chats and the likes…

So it was that after a while, I got really bored and remembered that every minute spent idling away was money lost…

So I felt I needed to make extra money…

In addition to feeding my students with knowledge of Human Physiology, I chose to also feed them their favourite beverages. Daily production of kunnu zaki was my choice…

There was a nearby bukateria where local meals and soft drinks- mostly coca cola products were sold. I approached the buka owner to ask if I could bring my kunnu zaki there for sale…she agreed without hesitation, stating that it meant no harm as it hadn’t been part of her own supplies since she had been there for over 5 years..how excited I was- 2 major markets in view

From my meagre savings of about N2,000 a month, I bought a full bag of jero (the green specie of millet)…and other necessary ingredients…

Next, I went around every place in Kaltungo where events were holding- be it naming ceremony or funerals or wedding ceremonies. I picked up every empty water bottle in sight and looked for the covers if they were missing…

I got back to the Corpers’ lodge and disinfected the bottles…

Then the dilemma about how to chill my drinks before selling…you know how a hot kunnu drink tastes…nothing close to palatable

This was what led me to Uncle Rony’s shop…and rather than just accept my cash payment, he wanted something in kind…

Since I had nothing in kind to give him, I decided to stay action albeit temporarily on my new business venture until I’d found a way out…

It didn’t take so long when nature reminded me of my Mama’s clay pot in the village…You know those heavy clay pots permanently seated at the dark corners of the village kitchen from where you are always sure to find naturally chilled and soothing water for your thirsty soul…

Wow! I began the search for a clay pot in Kaltungo…I went to the main market but was directed to a nearby village, about 15km away…However, I was warned ahead: “you may not get a vehicle that will agree to help convey your pot back to Kaltungo”…

Well, that didn’t deter me…am I not a Nigerian again, resilient in all ramifications? I set out, with my bathing towel in a small black nylon bag, ready for whatever it would take…

I got to the village as described and found different varieties of clay pots- small, medium, big, brown, black, etc. The pot makers burst out laughing when I told them my mission. They couldn’t understand what a “whole” (not half) youth corper would want to do with a clay pot…

That wasn’t really my business…just collect money and I go with a pot. I pointed at one of the biggest of the pots but I was instantly dissuaded on the premise that no car would carry it…

I showed them the content of my Nylon and they stared at me questionably…I answered the nonverbal cue- “I’ll put this on my head and carry the pot with my head to Kaltungo”…

“Ha! It’s too far for a woman”, they said. “Karka Dame” (don’t worry), I will rest periodically on the way…

They kept staring at me as I balanced my new pot on my head and walked away happily. After all, all that I needed to kick off my business was now available…

The journey back to Kaltungo was no child play but I did it…I took some analgesics thereafter sha o…

The next day, business kicked off. Kunnu would be made in the evening and chilled in my local fridge (clay pot) overnight…Early in the morning, I would carry a bucket-full of bottled kunnu to the bukateria and leave the rest for the students market…

Little by little, I began to make extra cash which helped me obtain anything extra I needed…

For me, this improved my self-esteem and dignity. A far better option than accepting Uncle Rony’s offer or doing the popular thing a lot of Female Youth Corpers were known for back in the days- serial dating of Alhajis.

2 months later, business was really booming with profit increasing day by day…I smiled everytime I went to pick up my bucket from the bukateria and it was full of emptied bottles…I counted my proceeds on my way to the Corpers’ lodge with childlike excitement..

Then one day, as I put down my bucket of kunnu zaki at the bukateria, the buka owner asked me to wait…”Josephine, please today will be the last time I will let you bring the kunnu here. I’ve now decided to start making kunnu for sale”…she went ahead to show me the new bottles she had bought for that purpose…

My spirit dropped…what???!!! I already had ingredients soaked for the next day’s supplies…Since I didn’t want my ingredients wasted, I decided to walk around the complex and look for an alternative.

Heavens quickly smiled on me as one shop owner agreed I could bring my supplies to his shop. He even went ahead and erected a sign post for my kunnu…and No, before you ask, he was nothing like Uncle Rony…he only admired my prowess as a youth corper…

That spirit still lives in me. Rather than beg or accept uncomfortable conditions, I will do decent work with my hands, make the extra income and live the life of my dreams…

Nothing- no difficulty no matter the significance, can hold me back…

As long as my God is with me, everything that I lay my hands on will succeed.

What about you?

Do you have a dream?

Are you pursuing it in a Godly manner?

Are you going ahead despite the odds?

Think about it…

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