A Lesson From the Phoenix

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That Wednesday evening in August, I had gone to see my cousin who just finished from the Nigerian Law School in Lagos. We were talking when my phone beeped, it was a text from my friend, Okaima and it read, “I’m so sorry, you didn’t pass”. Instantly, there was a black out, everything seemed to shut down. Like Fabrice Muamba of Bolton, I died for a few milliseconds. I had just failed my first major exam in medical school! I failed not just one but all three of my courses (Anatomy, Physiology and Medical Biochemistry). Then I began to see updates of my colleagues on my blackberry: “3/3”, “Congrats…!”. All my friends had passed. How I managed to get home that evening, remains a mystery to me. On getting home, I broke the news to my Dad, thank God my Mum had traveled, who knows what might have happened. How would I have told her that I just failed and that I had to repeat that course. But eventually she got the news and she wept like a baby! Ironically, the last time I made her cry was in November 2007, when I was offered provisional admission by the University of Benin to study Medicine and Surgery. She had just returned from church, when I broke the news to her, she looked at me with the pride of a mother in her eyes… A look which soon condensed into tears, tears of joy. Once again, her only daughter and last child had made her proud!


As a little girl in Oregbeni Estate School, Benin-city, I excelled in my academics and always topped my class. It was even rumoured that of all the pupils that sat for the National Common Entrance in Edo state that year, I had scored highest (that I’m still not sure of though). Hence, getting admission into F.G.G.C. Akure was quite easy. On one of the visiting days during my first term my Mum told me that I had passed the screening exam into the well respected Federal Government Academy, Suleja! This mean that I would not be returning to Akure the following term. That term, I also came first in my class. My Dad was extremely proud and would seize every opportunity he had, to tell people that his daughter had just gained admission into Suleja school for the gifted, as was popularly known as at that time. He would go ahead to tell them that everyone in the school was on Federal Government’s Scholarship, which mean that virtually everything was free there!


In January 2001, I was off to Suleja, Niger state to continue my schooling. That term, I came 10th! From 1st in Akure to 10th in Suleja. So, all the while, I had been enjoying the pleasure of being a local champion! Here, the best from each state had been brought together and it was only natural for competition to be stiff. The disappointment my folks felt when they opened the brown envelop containing my result can best be imagined. Thank God for my WAEC and JAMB results, which helped  redeem my image. My mum cried, sang and danced for days after my results were released. In my 16-year-old mind, I was thinking, “What is doing this woman, is this not just a common admission?!” But that did not help as it even got worse…everyone began to call me “Our Doctor.”


But fast forward four years later and my mum was crying yet again… Only this time they were tears of pain, disappointment and shame. Ever heard of the bird called phoenix?


The phoenix is a unique bird that originates from the Arabian desert. It lives up to five hundred years and at the end of its life cycle, it would burn itself on a funeral pyre and rise from the ashes with renewed youth to live yet again. The phoenix with its magnificent rebirth represents our capacity and need for renewal. With its great beauty, the story of the phoenix creates intense mythical excitement and ‘deathless’ inspiration.


Like the phoenix, I birthed myself but not without the support of my family, Abraham Enahoro and a couple of friends. Prior to this rebirth, I would sit in my room and cry, I asked God questions and I asked myself questions. In the end, I knew what I wanted for myself, I decided not to repeat the year. Instead, I picked an inter-faculty transfer form. At this point, I embraced the words of Robert H. Schuller “Always look at what you have left. Never dwell on what you have lost”.


More importantly, I have learnt from my mistakes and because of that I’m a better person now. I have a whole new approach to my academics and a new attitude to life. Life doesn’t end when you fail, it becomes what you make of your failure. Just few days ago, I was going through some of my books, when I saw a piece of paper that read “‘I must pass MB at 1st sitting with at least an A.” I wrote that sometime ago in my first year at school. After reading it, I laughed so hard, tears welled up in my eyes. The irony of how things had turned out  made me want to cry… again. But like Violeta Perra said, “Do not cry when the sun is down, because your tears won’t let you see the stars” When I failed the sun went out of my life and the tears helped mitigate the pain, but when I stopped crying and moved forward I began to see stars of oppurtunity around me. It is that that drives me now as I fight my way with renewed vigor chasing a degree in Geology. As I struggly through I am comforted by these words:


When things go wrong as they sometimes will,

When the road you’re trudging seems uphill,

When the funds are low and the debts are high,

And you want to smile but you have to sigh,

When care is pressing you down a bit,

Rest if you must, but don’t quit.

Success is failure turned inside out,

The silver tint on the clouds of doubt,

And you can never tell how close you are,

It may be near, when it seems afar.

So, stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit.

It’s when things go wrong that you must not quit


Owgee is a freelance blogger who enjoys conversing, surfing the web and rendering fashion advice to her friends. She is currently studying Geology at the University Of Benin. For more of her writings visit owgee.wordpress.com



Words by Okechukwu Ofili of ofilispeaks.com
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3 comments on “A Lesson From the Phoenix

  1. patrick avo on said:

    Ofili i tank u 4 bein a source of inspiration to me am in a suituation like urs wanting to transfer to geology from engineering i pray God answer my prayers nd cum to my resuce here is my number i like to meet with u nd talk cos i nid someone to counsel me 08074666004 am also in uniben thank u

  2. Peterpidia on said:

    I’m impressed and inspired by this post…one is never a failure when he picks himself and forges on whilst claiming responsibility for failure…I might be in a similar situation but I choose not to think about tommorrow but focus on today…keep the spirit!

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