Mama Shade: Folashade Mary Ajayi
A 51-year-old woman, Folashade Mary Ajayi, in Ilorin, Kwara State, has defied all odds to return to school to obtain a secondary school certificate and even more.
We understands that while people of her age would have given up on education, especially at such a level, ‘Mama Shade’, as she is fondly called, played deaf to the mockery, insults and gossip about her returning to school at 50.
Mama Shade shared her story with Daily Trust without mincing words, recalling how tough it was for her when she took the bold step of returning to school.
According to her, she was insulted by some of her neighbours for deciding to go to school at her age and was widely gossiped about even though most of them were not educated
Mama Shade, who enrolled at the Ilorin Grammar School (IGS), said she was never intimidated or ashamed of her decision, which is what the people around her had wanted.
“They often laughed at me, saying I was competing with my grandchildren; they mocked me, calling me ‘Iya Ilewe’.
“As a human being, some of these comments are saddening because they will sustain it until you feel discouraged. But I never let it affect me or dampen my resolve because I have my motivation.
“The fact that I don’t wear my uniform from home till I get to school also helps reduce the insults. Otherwise, it would have been more difficult,” Mama Shade told journalists during an interview.
We understands that the quinquagenarian was full of hope, belief and determination while sharing her story about pursuing her dream of acquiring an education.
She is optimistic that there will be light at the end of the tunnel. Mama Shade had managed the stone throws through Junior Secondary School (JSS) and is now in Senior Secondary School (SSS) class.
She was in the middle of a Yoruba language test at the IGS when she was approached for an interview by the news platform.
Mama Shade, according to reports, was granted permission to speak with the newsmen with a promise by the school to organise make-up for her.
“It has not been easy, but I thank God, who has seen me through with the help of others. Initially, those who were mocking me thought I would later drop out or hit the brick wall, but I am determined to put such critics to shame and achieve my burning desire to become educated.
“I continued after my JSS because of my love to get educated up to the university level, and I know this step is crucial to achieving that. The examinations were not easy, but here I am today, and I am even more motivated,” she told the reporters.
I Get Support From People I Don’t Even Know
In her journey to get educated, Mama Shade said despite the challenges, she received help from people who she did not even know. She expressed gratitude to her class teachers and principals, who, according to her, gave her their support, including financial assistance, to enable her to concentrate correctly on her educational pursuit.
Though she lamented that her sacrifice to go to school is taking its toll on her petty business.
Mama Shade said: “I must say that some people have been very supportive. These are people that I don’t even know. My present principal, Mrs Muslimat Abdullahi, has been a strong pillar of support and extremely helpful.
“When I began SSS, she bought my uniforms, books and writing materials. And not only that, she has been at the forefront of ensuring that I never regret my decision to return to school at my age.
“Also, three members of the Rotary Club in the state, led by the principal of Queen Elizabeth Senior Secondary School, Mrs Sidikat Taiye Lawal, took it upon themselves to contribute an N12,000 stipend for me monthly.
“This is the second month of that pledge, and they have not defaulted. Other good Samaritans have brought writing materials, uniforms and different for me.”
I Find It Difficult To Recollect Some Teachings, especially in Mathematics
Mama Shade shared further her learning experience, noting that she struggled to recollect some of the things she was taught in the class.
According to her, it has not been easy because the SSS class has challenges.
She said: “Now, I have to do more subjects that seem a bit complex. But I am determined. I am not the shy type, nor am I ashamed to complain if I don’t understand something. I usually ask the teachers and students if there is anything I don’t understand.
“I am in art class, and I try my best. But among the most challenging subjects for me now is mathematics, and at times, recollecting some of what I have been taught is difficult.
“I have to make an extra effort to remember, unlike when I just finished a class or lesson, which is easier for me to recall. But I am coping and doing the best I can.
“I hope my story will be a reference point to others that we can do whatever we set to achieve in life.”
I Am Pleading With Governor Abdulrazaq To Assist Me
Mama Shade expressed worries that her business is affected as she had to spend more hours in school to concentrate on her dream.
She told reporters that she is into bag making but establishing a foodstuff business would greatly complement her earnings as the other suffers setbacks due to her inability to attend to her clients at the right time.
Mama Shade appealed to the Governor of Kwara State, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, to come to her aide.
She said: “Because of my studies, I now stay more extended hours in school because I have to attend lessons after closing. For this reason, I sometimes get home around 6 pm. At the weekends, I occasionally attend adult literacy classes also.
“My customers would have all gone when I arrived. That is why I am passionately seeking assistance to sell foodstuffs instead, as I will still make sales when I return to the shop after school hours.
“I am pleading with our Governor, His Excellency AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, who has demonstrated that he is a great lover of the masses, to please assist me with capital to invest in this line of business.”
Mama Shade added: “Aside from my business, I would also like to work or teach after I finish in whatever capacity I will fit in.”