“Some people arrive and make such a beautiful impact on your life, you can barely remember what life was like without them”- Anna Taylor.
About five years ago, I was selected to be part of an organization that changed my life forever. During the accreditation process, I remember not having one of the exact documents needed due to the strike action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), but I had brought an alternative. I was asked to step aside and wait till the founder arrives, who will then decide my fate. I recall praying to God with a thumping heart so that the founder will be considerate. I couldn’t imagine coming all the way from Jos to Owerri without being accepted into the organization.
After some time, a smiling gentleman walked in. In my mind “I was like, oh well, this can’t be him, the man I have been waiting for.” But judging by the attitude of the staff, I soon realized that he was the very man, the founder of the Centre for Social Awareness, Advocacy and Ethics (CSAAE). I summoned courage, walked up to him and explained myself out. With the warmest of smiles, he accepted my plea, and I was accepted to become an Emerging Nigerian Leader (ENL). This was my first physical encounter with Rev. Fr. Dr. Godswill Uchenna Agbagwa. All through the conference I marvelled at the personality of Fr. G that I had to remind myself over and over again that this was actually a catholic priest doing these amazing things. Don’t blame me, it’s not every day you get to see this kind of clergyman.
A closer journey with Father Godswill began when I was assigned to be one of his mentees, as the Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) comprises a three-year mentoring program. I remember how Fr. G helped me fix a lot of issues that were plaguing my teenage life. Though I was the youngest in my set, he never let me believe I couldn’t achieve great things. Excuses were a no-no for him. Sometimes during our mentor-mentee telephone coaching, I would cry all through when I got scolded for failing to do the right things at the right time, missing deadlines, etc. With Father, there was no room for laxity. I had to get out of my comfort zone and began shaping my future. Back then, I used to feel bad and wonder the use of all the trainings, but today I see their usefulness and I am grateful to him. I look at the lives of other members too, and I see how much enlightenment, progress and development have taken place due to Father’s ‘tough love’.
It is rare to find someone who genuinely cares about individuals who have no blood relations with him/her. Someone who still loves his motherland despite all that is said of Nigeria, and someone who is willing to sacrifice to see that a better Africa emerges. Father keeps hope alive by taking it upon himself to train and equip youths with the capacities, competencies and character needed to facilitate development and end poverty in Africa, so that we can have an Africa where all, not just Africans can find support and encouragement to work hard, live with dignity and feel proud to belong.
Today I celebrate the priestly ministry of Rev. Fr. Dr. Godswill Uchenna Agbagwa, a ministry which birthed CSAAE. Fifteen (15) years of God’s amazing grace and faithfulness is a lot to be thankful for. Many individuals, both clergy and lay, have come and gone. Some have left footprints in the sands of time and would be forever remembered, others live their lives giving sparingly or not at all, barely touching any lives positively. Which category do you want to fall in? What kind of people do you surround yourself with? Oprah Winfrey opines that we surround ourselves with people who are going to take us higher. At every point remember that “success is not measured in the amount of dollars you make, but the amount of lives you impact”- Lewis Howes. We need to stop thinking of how the world will benefit us, but rather of how we can make our society better.
…And Together We Can Make Africa A Better Place.
Ekwonu Francisca Chinelo
University of Jos, Nigeria.