Read below an excerpt of our conversation with Raquel Daniel on the Silent Generals:
What are the defining moments in your life that completely shifted you as a young person?
When my dad used to say that no one in my family has ever gone past secondary school, I never saw it as a defining moment. I didn’t take it seriously. So, I didn’t really see it as an important thing. Everyone talked about it in my family and I thought, “what are they talking about? Is it not just to go to the University of Jos or go to Ahmadu Bello University?” I didn’t think it was a big deal.
I think the most defining moment in my life was when I lost my dad when I was 16 years old. And then it just dawned on me at that time that my dad’s vision has become something that I had to struggle to get. Because all my life, my dad had to struggle to ensure that we got the things that we had. And so, taking him out of the picture, it just meant at that time that, I had to be the one to do all these things myself.
And so, it was a defining moment for me, because I started to think deeply about myself, my life and my brothers. And so I said to myself, “I don’t care what happens, as long as it’s legit, I will do whatever it takes to get a good education no matter what.” In fact, at one time though, I use to joke and say “even if it means going to study animal and fishery” even when I didn’t even know what the course meant.” So, that was when I picked up that vision of my dad. It no longer became a family vision, it became my personal vision, my personal ambition to ensure that I made it.
My mom began to say, my brothers had dropped out of school because we can’t afford to pay their school fees. Maybe we should marry Raquel off so that whoever marries her can now take responsibility over her younger brothers.” It was a grand idea because my younger brothers needed help. I would love to do that for them, sacrifice that for them so that they could go to school but I remembered that my dad kept saying that if I got an education, it would break the cycle of poverty in our family. So, I thought and asked myself, “if I got married now, my brothers might end up not going to school and if I don’t go to school, I won’t be able to break that circle of poverty and my goal was to break it.”
So even though I love my brothers, I didn’t want to sacrifice that vision that I had for them. I didn’t think that I wanted to do that. I felt like I could do more for them if I had an education, I had to make a decision to either stay here and get married, or not. And so, I refused to get married at that age..
As Raquel Daniel, if you’re going to define life, what’s the definition you give to life as at where you stand today?
I think life is what we are living already. Life is what you make of it. I believe we’re all given different ages that we’re going to live from when we are born to when we die. Some are given 30, some are given 20, some are given 10, some are given you 100, some are given 150. People are given different lifespans. Even if it is 10 years that God has given you on earth, what you make of the time is what really counts.
So, I think the air that you breathe is the life that you have. What do you choose to do with it is important. I know that a lot of people don’t have opportunities that others have, but there are people who have made something out of their lives even with not having certain opportunities.
That’s what life is to me.
Listen to the full version of the February’s edition via podcast: Conversation with Raquel Daniel
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