On Friday the 31st of May 2019, I bade Farewell to my students as I went on a leave of absence from my university. I was a lecturer at the department of architecture, University of Benin (UNIBEN), Nigeria and was also the acting head of the department for the last 9 months before I left. For me, lecturing came easy and inspiring students architecture-wise came naturally, however, while I was at this, I didn’t know the extent to which I inspired my students until this fateful day.
It was an emotional moment for both myself and the students as they organized a Farewell gathering and mostly came out to give humbling farewell speeches in my honour in one of their studios. They said a lot of nice things that made me realise that our little good efforts and kind gestures as lecturers go a long way to bring out the best in students.
The Architecture Student Association (ASA) Uniben branch with the approval of the entire students presented me an ASA/UNIBEN branded jacket requesting that I never forget the department and always wear it anywhere I go as a proud reminder of where I am coming from.
The jacket had various inscriptions but the most touching of them all was the one in front, which read ARC 001, which they said meant I was their number one architect.
Two of my very favourite students gave me a greeting card and a wristwatch to thank me for being a good mentor to them. Thinking back to when I was a student and how hard it would have been for me to give a gift to my teachers (because student never had enough money) will always remind of these students love and sacrifice and the extent they went to appreciate me. I won’t forget you guys!
Of course, you are wondering if it isn’t just a leave of absence and am I not expected to return. Well, Yes but No. I took the leave to enable me to explore better career opportunities elsewhere. When all goes well, will likely resign my appointment as a lecturer and my students are aware of this. So, that fateful day was the last day I would be a lecturer to them.
We have come a long way as students and lecturer. Our university started the department of Architecture 4 years ago and we were the pioneer staffs while our 400 level students are the pioneer students. We have gone through thick and thin at the department to get to where we are and are very much aware of the hurdles we needed to cross to get to the desired future. We had more than a lecturer – students relationship, we were more like a family, more like father and children. I was course adviser for 2 years and HOD for 9 months and had a one on one encounter with most students. Most of my colleagues weren’t different from me. Under my headship, we operated in unison, which was the most invaluable blessing any department can have.
I want to use the opportunity to thank all my colleagues for their immense faith in me as Head of the department and their unrelenting support to work with me. I also thank my senior colleagues who had faith in me and gave me opportunities to prove my self. I want to thank all my students because without students there won’t be lecturers.
I wish you all the best in your various endeavours. I will miss you all. Continue to make us proud.
All photo credit goes to Osayuki Jegede.
In the nearest future, I will be commencing a series called SOJOURN OF A NIGERIAN ARCHITECT IN CANADA.