I worked very hard from my early years of high school as I fought viciously against all odds to keep my dream alive. After the first two years of high school, we were screened based on our results. I was delighted to be in the first class as it was the only class in the school, of the 13 classes in my stream, to offer science subjects. I was accepted at St. Ignatius College for my advanced level studies, one of the most prestigious schools in the nation, after coming first in my school in my ordinary level results. I enjoyed Biology so much and I would spend a lot of time studying the subject. My skills in scientific reasoning and application improved much. Chemistry and Mathematics taught me to be thorough and exact. I finished my A level with merits in all my three subjects and got accepted at University of Zimbabwe for Dentistry. This was just the beginning of a long journey.
My father passed away in 2002 when I was still in the middle of my schooling. He was the sole breadwinner of the family. His loss had a double impact on me, financially and emotionally. Life as I knew it drastically changed, inevitably changing for the worst. It was an emotionally trying time for us as a family and I particularly, since I was the only boy in the family, and I was very close to my father. He was more of a friend. My school life was affected to some extent, but I received so much support from my sisters and my extended family at large. The financial challenges were compounded by the economic meltdown that the country at large was going through during that time.
University life was an experience that I can never and would not want to forget. It brought so much joy along with sorrows and pain. My background robbed me of the opportunity to freely express myself in fluent English. This impacted on me during my early life at the university. I realized that I may not be as fluent but I could understand concepts and apply them. That was my fortress. As long as I could prove myself, then I had nothing to fear. My uncle brought me textbooks to use, and that really helped me to study a lot and establish a strong foundation in basic sciences, which proved critical in my later years of practice.
For every first year student, finding accommodation on campus was a high priority. It meant only a short walk to lecture theaters and meals that were provided three times a day. To a mature student who was well focused, being in residence meant more time available for studying. I was unfortunate to be out of residence when I first enrolled. I would spend about 3 hours daily commuting to and from school! After finishing lectures at the end of the day, I couldn’t use the library as I had to commute back home. I would get home each day exhausted from lectures and waiting in long queues to get transport. After several weeks had gone by, I realized that my situation was pathetic but not hopeless. I went to see the vice-chancellor of the university, the man who was at the helm of university administration, only second to the principal, who was none other than the state president. It was not without a fight that I passed through the first and second secretaries, prior to meeting the third and final secretary to his office. Although I was not allowed to see the vice-chancellor, I managed to get to talk to the pro-vice-chancellor. We had a long talk and finally he wrote a letter to the accommodation officer for me to be allocated a room. Later that day I had residence on campus. It made life much easier and enjoyable too.
The transition from high school to university was so drastic. This taught me to realize that in life, what may appear to be a disappointment may actually turn out to be an opportunity to realize one’s greatness in an area they may not have ever imagined themselves in. I also learned that parents should not force their children to follow career paths the children are not passionate about. Even if one had intelligence, it doesn’t follow that he/she has to become a doctor. Parents should allow their children to follow their dreams. The best they can do is to advise them and encourage them, but never impose on them what to become in life. When choosing a career, one’s choice should be driven by passion, never by financial gains or the prestige associated with it. In any field, one’s passion and diligence will get you through difficult times.
Now, being born in a fairly large family where I was the only son with four sisters, I can say I was mildly “spoiled,” which is somehow a usual occurrence in a typical African family. I had the attention of the whole family, as the eldest and only son of my parents and also the only brother my sisters had. My siblings and I grew up with very good ties to each other and to our parents. We had our fights, but we loved each other so much. This is still true even today, with all of my sisters now married off. These ties went a long way in teaching me good interpersonal skills. I remember in the evenings we would sit and chat and laugh as a family. Family time was so precious to every one of us. Importance of good interaction with people was engraved in me at a very tender age. Now as a young man at the university, the lessons I learned as a child proved to be vital. I quickly made good friends both in class and at church. This strong support network proved indispensable to me during my college years.