How do you identify greatness in a child? Is it by his boldness? Is it by his brains? Is it by the family that he comes from? Is it something that no one can ever see coming because the creator randomly picks people and pours a dust of greatness into their souls?
I had heard that Suley was now a Managing Director in one of the multinational companies in Ghana. When I finally saw him giving a speech at an event, nothing prepared me for the pride that I would feel. After the meeting, I was gulping down orange juice when he passed by with someone. I did not think that he would recognize me and I was contemplating whether to initiate a conversation with him when he noticed me.
“I know you,” Suley said. “You are Teiya from basic school and Senior High School, right?” I nodded. “Oh my God! It’s so good to see you. We should meet over some drinks and talk proper. Here is my card. Give me your phone number.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out his phablet. He entered my digits and saved my name. “Right now, I’ve got to catch a flight. You’ll hear from me. You may even stop picking my phone calls.” We laughed together. As he walked away, I felt people staring at me and I could not help smiling as I read his card which was in my right hand.
Nobody knew or even thought that Suley would turn out this way. I remember primary school. There were the good students, the not- so-good students and the bad students. Apart from the rich kids, the other pets of the teachers were the good students- those students who always knew the answers to the teacher’s questions and had this rivalry to always see who was smarter. Suley was a bad student and I was lucky to be a not-so- good student. It’s amazing how Suley was even able to get into the kind of secondary school that he did. When it came to nominating class representatives, nobody ever thought of him. When we talked about the Havards and the Yales, we never pictured people like Suley there.
I even went to the same secondary school with him and he was still not the teacher’s favourite. We all knew that there were some great opportunities that were handpicked for only the brilliant students. The rest of us never heard about them. That is how people like Abdul- Hakeem got to travel to the U.S. and sat in some important meetings and became some child ambassadors. Suley was never one of those students to benefit from such a service. People like him knew about this. Some of them complained about the unfairness of everything and those who were bold enough drew nasty graffitis of the teachers. They say the poor complain about the opportunities that the rich get, the not-smart also complain about everything that goes in favour of the smart. There was this particular teacher though. His partiality for the brilliant students was so evident and sometimes, he made the rest of us feel that we were not doing enough.
It is a good thing that greatness cannot always be seen from afar so when the person one never thinks of becomes great, it’s like fireworks which we all see and greatly admire. I heard that in the university, Suley was passive all through his freshman year and then after certain events, he started advocating for the rights of students and his passion for what he was doing was so great that he was unstoppable. One thing led to another till he got where he is presently.
So, Suley why did you do nothing all those years before the university? Whatever the case may be, you are an inspiration to me today. Oh Suley, you are so great and I am glad that I know you.