There is an Igbo saying that states: The cock that crows in the morning belongs to one household. It’s voice though is the property of the neighborhood. Every single thing we do in life, has a ripple effect. Our actions maybe ours alone. But they too matter for others. I remember growing up listening to a cock crow. It’s was one of my favorite things to start the day. Long before the day took it’s toll, the cock made you feel at ease. Made you feel prepared to take on whatever the day may throw your way. It may have belonged to one household, but it’s voice was for all of us. So too is this thing called mentoring.
When I look back at my career in public health so far, I have been surrounded by mentors, whose power continues to reverberate for me. Every time I speak to them, I feel wise in all sense of the word. It’s an immense gift that literally keeps giving. One person in particular was the first person who took a chance on me when I was clueless with life. The first person that taught me about culture and why it matters. The first person that made being different and learning to accept failures, appealing. The first person that allowed me to claim and own my space whatever I wanted it to be. The first person who helped me make sense of my journey in academia. The first person that made me feel like a leader and not a follower. The first person who continues to help me as I finally come to my calling (I laugh, but my true life’s work is just beginning). The first person who literally planted and harvested in me. Everyone calls him Dr. Collins Airhihenbuwa. He is the intellectual Father my God created just for me. All my ideas have truly awakened in his hands. The eye of my mind were given wings to fly away from the moment I first met him as an undergraduate student. I have been flying ever since. I am who I am today because he first saw it in me. He took the time to plant things in me that are only now starting to ripen. Some may think I have done my best work. Truth is, it was a planting season. Everything is finally making sense. To think that I have been in a limbo paying my dues to get here makes me humble. The season was not a waste.
Now the harvesting begins. The sweetness of the fruits being harvested in my life these days keeps me in awe. Things I barely even know I possess, are ripe. Ready for harvesting. Public health for me, has always been messy. Complex too. But I learnt from the best to remain comfortable with being uncomfortable with the mess. If it’s makes no sense, then you are on the right course. If it’s complex, even better. Complexity is your middle name. True, you may have failed. You may still fail and fail again. There is a lesson there too. Ooh and try again. He once told me to fail brilliantly too. I have been doing that also and with no regrets. Everything was for this moment in my life. My entire career has this as a foundation. All because I was blessed with a cock that crowed in the morning. Though his voice may belong to many, the thought that I’m in the household where it emerges from keeps me grateful. Keep being grateful for mentors who plant and harvest in you. They are like cocks who crow in the morning.