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Funmi Iyanda
Lagos, Nigeria
Funmi Iyanda is a multi award-winning producer and broadcast journalist. She is the CEO of Ignite Media and Executive Director of Creation Television
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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

...then Idowu

Pic:Abdulsalam Idowu

Perhaps it was watching me interview Pa Amodu that did the trick but Idowu was thawing, l know how had a first TV appearance can be particularly when you are crippled and are coming to exorcise long buried demons.
It must have been polio but by age three Idowu had lost use of his legs. Soon after his mother died, his father remarried. In the competition for scarce resources, the handicapped child of course loses, so no education was planned for him and as his father started travelling around the country in search of a livelihood, Idowu was left with his poor old grandmother. Thus began a life of alms begging on the streets in his Kwara hometown.

The young crippled boy believed fervently that his only salvation was education so at age 8 he went to the local primary school and created a scene, crying and rolling on the floor until he was allowed to start school. He paid his way through school with alms collected begging on the street. When it was time for secondary education, he needed N550 ($3) to pay his fees but he did not have it so one day he got on a train headed to Lagos, alit at the last stop in Iddo and knowing nobody ended up sleeping under the bridge and begging until he raised N1, 400 ($10). He got back on the train months later and returned to the school to pay the N550 fees. He paid his way through school by begging.

When he finished secondary school, he came to Lagos, found a night guard at a school who charged him N20 a night to sleep in the compound whilst he goes begging in the day. Slowly over a three-year period, he saved enough from begging to rent a room in Ajegunle (Lagos slum) and pay for JAMB (university entry exams) lessons. After a few trials negotiating the minefield that is university entry in Nigeria, he was finally admitted into the University of Lagos to study political science. He is currently a 100evel student.

In answer to one of my questions he said
begging is the last resort when you have no more choices, it is the most demeaning thing you can be forced to do and to do it all your life is just painful but l knew l had to do it to get what l need to be somebody in future
.He intends to become a human rights lawyer like Gani Fawehinmi, l thought about it only for a second before l pledged a yearly sum to help him achieve this. I caught the eye of my associate producer and l know why she is rolling her balls, we are barely scraping along as a show and have god knows how many other cases in addition to our scholarship children. We cannot afford it, but l have never done anything because l could afford it only because it needed to be done.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

wow.. i need to email this story to my friends.... idowu's story must be told...
i have a blog.. i will put a link to this story ...
keep up the good work....
when i come down to nigeria later in the year ..i will like to contribute to his fund...it might not be much ...but it will help somehow...

naijagal said...

this is so touching how does one help?

Funmi said...

wow! this was definately inspiring. Its sad that more people aren't helping with the plight of the helpless. Well done Funmi!

NaijaBabe said...

God bless your heart!
Stories like this are just so touching and make me realize how lucky i am. As soon as i can, i will do all i can to help the less fortunate

Eminie said...

Dearest Sis Funmi , I cried today when I watched the show honestly I was really moved by Idowu story
I'm terribly ashamed of my self for procrastinating on some things
Baba is actually a role model to millions of Nigerians who love to sit back and do nothing to improve life
Keep the good work and
Stay Blessed

Anonymous said...

This is a very touching story...
It is such a shame that Idowu had to go through all that to get an education.

In the U.S, the disabled are given more consideration when it comes to education. I was able to get federal grants to go to college and I still had money left over.

There should be some form assistance from the government for those who are willing to go to school but cannot afford it. I am sure there are many more Idowus out there.

Omosewa said...

Wow,wow, wow! Such determination. I can definitely learn a thing or two from him. Aunty, you should be able to get sponsors back home, right? Wrong? Anyways, may God continue to bless you and keep you, you're doing a fabulous job.

lol@Shrimp, thats a cute nickname.

Blessed Child said...

This just makes one think how we can so easily take things for granted.I am so inspired by this story.God bless you Funmi and kudos to you for all you're doing.I pray the good Lord would continue to give you strength and wisdom in what you do and in much more.

Jaycee said...

I'm inspired by YOU!

bibi said...

wow, Im highly impressed by his story...people need to emulate him and i pray he achieves his goals and dreams...i will definitely like to contribute to his fund...does he have a contact info...

Naijadude said...

I was deeply impressed by this story! Wow! I am left speechless, cant say much....

Calabar Gal said...

God Bless you funmi. I read about some Nigerians in the legal profession asking Idowu to come and get some money for his education. So his plight was previously highlighted on ur show. Its a tough world out there in Nigeria unlike in the diaspora where the disabled are given first priority in every aspect of life and every cushion available to make their life more bearable isnt denied them.

Mr.Fineboy said...

Very noble of you...I'm really enjoying your blog. Great stuff!