So Far So Good

It is befitting to be introduced or have oneself introduced when ushered into any formal gathering. However, here, I am to have myself introduced. What's more, I would be taking your imaginary powers on tour to the "So Far So Good" of my life. My name is Benedict Orile Ajunku.

My name is Benedict Orile Ajunku. I was born to the family of Mr (Kuchimin) and Mrs (Ngoundu) Ajunku in Tse Angband, a small village on the outskirts of Makurdi town, Benue State, Nigeria.

Going by chronological order, I would have been the ninth child, preceded by five elder sisters and three elder brothers, in that other, being older than only two girls. However, four of my older siblings (two, each boy and a girl) were called nature toddlers before I was born. Two (at this time, all 'women' ) were later called again, the most recent being in the year 2016.

I was told a story of how I got to be named "Orile." Because a good number of my mother's children died toddlers, she decided not to give a thoughtful name to a child again. It was amidst this circumstance that I was born.

My surviving elder brother was to keep watch of me at the farm while other members of the family tended to the farm. Once, while keeping watch of me under a tree at the edge of the farm near a forest, he spotted some fearless Mandrills jumping across trees. Excited and intrigued, my brother exclaimed that the monkeys were "as black as Mama's baby." The family found it funny in a toddler's words, and there I was without a name. Thus, from that moment, I was called "Or íle ber ikyá"- a man who is as black as a monkey.

But truly, I was black; really black- childhood pictures tell me. This name, of mine, was later coined as "Orile," meaning 'a black person'. I am sure if this was to originate from a white person today, it would be seen as racial abuse. But here I am, proud of my name.

I have always been inquisitive and daring. At about four years of age, there was this grass that my brother would use in weaving baskets. He would thereafter burn the dirt that came from the coverings of the grass. I loved adventures, and setting fire to dirt and watching it burn was one of them. So I longed to burn the dirt as he used to but never had a chance. I was going to have my way anyways. Somehow, anyhow!

So, one day, I was left at home with my mother and siblings. Most of the other villagers were on the farm. Here was the opportunity! My father had dried a matchbox under the sun, which had been drenched by water. It had dried such that no single strike could fail. And my brother had finished weaving without burning the dirt.

Off with the matches, I headed for the refuse and set it ablaze, right under my mother's farm produce storehouse. I was fast, only less in speed than light, lest someone stops me from having that fill of adventure.

So the entire storehouse, with all the year's harvest, got burnt and almost included my immediate younger sister, only for the help of an agile young man, who literally pulled her out of the flames uncouth.

I had my pre-nursery and nursery one at Numi Nursery School, from where I proceeded to Roman Catholic Mission Primary School, all in Adaka, my hometown. I graduated from primary school in 2002 but could not proceed due to a lack of funds. In 2004, after selling a ram and with my mother's support, I was able to raise enough funds to gain admission into secondary school.

In 2006, I could not register for the compulsory Junior Secondary Certificate Examination, an incident that drove me to the North-Eastern part of Nigeria in search of funds. Funds that were never to be found, not during my trip to the North. But credit to this, I speak Hausa fluently today.

I came back from that trip with only enough money to transport me home, nothing more. And an Uncle took me to train after my mum pleaded. And from then coming forward, the family has become more of my family than my natural family.

In 2008, I was back in Junior Secondary 3.

I proceeded uninterruptedly, finished secondary school, got admitted immediately into the university, and graduated in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Pure Biology from Benue State University, Nigeria.

That same year, I was deployed for the one-year compulsory youth service and rounded up in November 2017.

As an ARV Pharmacy Focal Person, I currently work with APIN Public Health Initiative, an HIV management non-governmental organization.

I am also on my dissertation, in pursuance of a Master of Science in Post-Harvest Physiology and Management of Crops, at the Centre for Food Technology and Research, Benue State University, Nigeria.

My hobbies include writing, hiking, swimming, singing, and research.

And for swimming, I compete only with the great shark of the open ocean.

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