Dear Child, may you not make a life changing mistake – Peju Akande

Dear Child, may you not make a life changing mistake – Peju Akande

Last week, at the valedictory service of one of the biggest private schools in Ogun state, the guest speaker, my friend and partner, Toni Kan, encouraged the graduating students to work hard and not make life damaging mistakes.

He said two things that stood out for me.

  1. Success is a lottery, Hard work is sure
  2. Anybody can succeed. Only a few become successful

But the kids were distracted.

He paused then called out for them to pay attention; the girls were busy flipping their wigs/attachment/weaves this way and that way as they giggled and poked fun at one another. The boys, too couldn’t sit still, they fidgeted, they whispered among themselves, they played with one another.

These are the people who will hold sway in the affairs of life tomorrow and they were not paying attention.


On the other side of the hall, where parents and guests were seated, the guest speakers’ words hit. A few sighed, as they cast their minds back to their younger days, wishing perhaps they could unmake a few past mistakes; a few readjusted themselves, perhaps realizing the wrong turns they took years back that now couldn’t be unturned. I shook my head at the bad decisions I took when I was their age and out of school.

I remembered one that almost ended my life!


After the speech, parents stood up and gave a resounding applause; but Toni Kan’s words were not meant for them, they were for the kids, the graduating kids who have no idea of what life has in store for them.

Those distracted kids I heard, have got their WAEC results and a good number of them performed excellently well, so well that a few have already gained admission into some universities here and abroad.

Good job kids! I wish luck is all they’ll need to navigate life.

These are pampered kids; most have probably never taken a bus ride from their homes to the next bus stop . Most have probably never worked one day of their lives; most have never had to share a bed space, room, apartment with anyone and they have probably never had to cook for themselves…especially the boys.

But we are all excited that they are going straight to university, we are all praying that somehow they will turn up right even though there are hundreds and millions of predators online and lurking around dark corridors.

To be fair, our kids have done good; they have succeeded whereas we had to attempt several retakes of WAEC  to make one qualification. These kids scale JAMB at just one sitting whereas we were JAMB customers for several years.

But while we were learning the ropes of life at retaking JAMB, (we learnt perseverance) while we were trekking long distances to our schools, (we were picking up street smarts); while we were running errands for uncles and aunties in the neighbourhood, (we gathered experience in human interactions); while we played with old tires and sand as we waited for TV to come up at 4pm (we learned social skills).

Dear non -attentive kids, I wish you will know when, for instance, to take the right decision not to have sex with that girl who after leading you on suddenly says no. This is called rape and has destroyed many young boys . Case in point, the recent Twitter outrage and accusations by mates of certain kids in some prestigious schools who were accused of being rapists…the internet doesn’t forget, may this not come to bite you in the ass someday- ask Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein.

I wish you will have the good sense to say no to drugs, that won’t come looking like drugs but  like a solution to pain, something to help you study better, since study is mostly what you do. That ‘safe mixture; that ‘cool dudes’ are drinking SHOULD not be for you.

To you young lady; yes, that wig is great on you; mummy and daddy may not be able to afford the real one; you know the Peruvian, Indian Brazilian types…they cost a lot; and because they can’t afford it; please do not succumb to that potbellied Alhaji, that Lecturer or boyfriend who says, ‘just once won’t get you pregnant.’

Listen child, know this; even if it is the tip that goes in, you CAN get pregnant. But that shouldn’t even be your fear, think of the diseases you could be getting, from that singular act…and because you haven’t had any tutoring on how to handle these, you could get into real trouble with the wrong advice from equally stupid friends.

The wrong advice has marred many lives…but hey kids, you need not worry; you will make your mistakes and you will learn. you will fall and graze your knees and you will heal; you will take the wrong turns and you will somehow find your way back.

Mummy and daddy paid attention to the speeches, hopefully, they will be at hand to protect you, and hopefully, you may have heard just a bit of that advice to take heed.

We can only pray!

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