25 Oct 2013


By Ezim Osai ,
Friday, October 25, 2013

“Education is the most powerful weapon, which you can use to change the world”
-Nelson Mandela

Hello dear reader, today I want to talk about some areas or aspects of our education that need more light, particularly in our tertiary institutions for youths and teens.
The first area I would like to talk about is Mentorship; who is a mentor and what is mentorship?
A mentor is an experienced adviser and supporter: somebody, usually older and more experienced, who advises and guides a younger, less experienced person.

Therefore, mentorship is the act/process of mentoring an individual. 

Mentorship starts from a young age in some individuals; it may start from an elder brother or cousin or uncle whom they went to whenever they had some problems in school or on the playground. The most common form of mentorship, in pre-teens and various secondary school students in Nigeria is the School-father/mother: School-son/daughter relationship. This relationship provides a position of stability and peace especially in the JSS1 students who are not so familiar with the system at the early stages. The school-father usually made sure his school-son was clean at all times, studied during prep, went to the chapel on Sundays and took care of them if they ever fell ill. Usually, when the school-father graduated, the school-son was able to live confidently and, in time, adopts a school-son for himself.

In our tertiary institutions, the issue of mentorship has been put forward by some groups and websites but we youths tend to see it as awkward. We are of the age where we want to do everything ourselves and we really do not see the need for a mentor.

A mentor in the university especially among ‘freshers’ will make life and transition into the system much easier and their eyes would be opened to some things that some of us ‘stallites’ do not know even now.

When I began to write, my mentor was my brother. He was the person who edited my work and told me what to work on in terms of style and diction. He suggested books to me and sent bookmarks and links to anything he thought I would benefit from (he still does so even now) and he was constantly encouraging me when I needed encouragement.

When I had stayed a couple of months at school, I found another mentor who was in my eyes, the way a perfect student should be. Good grades, socially active, was active in extra-curricular activities, religiously sound and even physically fit. This mentor of mine showed me the ropes of some things I had always wanted to do but had no avenue to learn; he helped me overcome some of my fears and doubts and nudged me in the directions I needed to face. He encouraged me and lauded those skills I had that he didn’t and he always gave me a chance to ‘shine’.

Throughout my freshman days, I had mentors in different aspects of my life on campus and they helped me progress much beyond my peers. So much that when the administrator of a popular site on campus heard my name and read my works, his question to the person who showed him was “Are you sure he is a student of this university?” The point I am making is that mentorship can take you places that you may not have reached in a long time on your own.

Someone will ask then, how do I get a mentor? Where do I find one? Who can be my mentor?

The truth is, anyone that inspires you can be your mentor.  I have a friend whose mentor is a French fashion designer whom she has never met, but draws inspiration from her works. Likewise, some people who have Ben Carson as their mentor have never met him but follow his books almost religiously; coming home we even have Pastor E.A Adeboye who many people would love to have as a mentor.

How to find a mentor? That is not so difficult. Anyone around you that shows interest in helping you or is happy when he sees you have done something new, someone whom you are comfortable with, one who is approachable, and can stir up the seed of greatness within an individual; this is a potential mentor-material.

Finally, on how to get a mentor, I never approached anyone and said “Would you please, be my mentor?” I just started talking to them and before we knew it, we got along fine and they started giving me advice and putting me through whenever I had difficulties. The first step to making someone your mentor is to approach the person in humility and ask the person engaging questions or things that would genuinely pique his attention. The next step is communication; talking to your mentor only when you need advice is really bad. A mentorship is a relationship akin to a father-son relationship and there should be trust and mutual understanding. Take time out to visit him, give him gifts, ask him about his life and his family and generally just do anything that would make him more at home with you.
Finding and keeping in contact with a mentor from the days of our youth can go a long way in future relationships as these our mentors would likely give us contracts pertaining to our various fields since they have first-hand knowledge of our skills. It is never too late to look for one and never too late to mentor someone.
Our generation must learn to give back to humanity; for only then can we truly live meaningful lives and ensure continuity.
I do hope this article would help a number of us become better and of more value to our world.

Ezim Osai is a 200L Physics major at the University of Ibadan. A Taoist and a Christian, he loves Cooking, Travelling, Reading, Writing, and loves to absorb nature.

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