I called a friend yesterday and she told me what happened in a WhatsApp group she belonged to.
The group had some teachers in it and recently Mr Aisi’s name came up in one of their conversations and so many good things were said about him that she felt so proud on my behalf.
Some days earlier, my permission had been sought to allow the organizers of The Total School Support Seminar/ Exhibition (TOSSE), àan annual conference of teachers/ educators and everything educational in Nigeria, name one of the conference halls in Mr Aisi’s honor.
In October last year, after his death,a yearly lecture “The Joseph Aisida Teacher Symposium “ J. A.T.S was launched by his colleagues and mentees in a bid to immortalize his name. At that lecture, I was presented with a book “Succeed with watershed an Encyclopedic of common entrance examination questions“ used by students in Nigeria.
In December last year, the Arclights Foundation for Educational Improvement and Development in Africa gave him a Posthumous award based on his invaluable contributions to the education sector in Nigeria.
I must confess that I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of emotions after his death.
Mr Aisi fell in love with teaching while in the university when he participated in teaching practicals in secondary schools as part of his course program but he never thought he would make a career of it until 1999 when he decided to give it a shot .
He told his friends, siblings and I that he would bring a unique flavour to teaching and improve people’s perception of the teacher and profession. He taught primary 5 and did excellent work especially with his students with whom he had and maintained a close relationship even after they left his class and went on to the secondary schools and universities.
He was very involved with his students, outside of the classroom, many times to my irritation and amusement as we hardly could go out without being besieged by children who knew him.
I remember the story of a former student who got pregnant in university. She couldn’t tell her parents and it was Mr. A (the name all his ex-students called him) she called who in turn broke the news to her mother and helped her get through the whole process or that of a former student whose mother had to call to ask him to speak to her son who wanted to change his course in university. He was able to broker peace between them both by asking his parents to give him a gap year to follow his passion. They did so and afterwards he went back to university to finish his course.
After being diagnosed with the disease Mr Aisi threw himself into the education sector almost as an offering. This time his passion was directed at training the teachers and giving back to the sector.
He was at every meeting he was invited to and many more he wasn’t invited to. He counseled, mentored, lectured all he came across. It was as if he knew his time was very short and he wanted to leave his mark in our consciousness.
He formed a purely professional Facebook page “The Executive Teacher”, held yearly lectures called “The Assembly”, formed a team “The Education Redefining Team “EDURED“ and generally lived out his passion.
Today, I am glad he followed his heart and gave his all to the cause he was so passionate about. His goodwill is incredible and it is already opening doors for myself and his children.
So, I ask, what would you do differently if you were told you had a limited time to live? I have thought much about this question since his passing and I know for sure that I wouldn’t practice law anymore. I would go back to school acquire a degree in psychology because I am interested in learning about what makes people tick and why they act the way they do. I want to be a qualified grief and trauma counselor. I want to make my little contribution to humanity, I want my children to know me better, to know what makes me tick, why I do the things I do. I want to enjoy the art of living, I want to write books, share with the world the gifts I have been given, the insights I have received.
We need not wait for calamity to come before we start to live life as we should.
I leave us with his words penned in September 2017 a year before his death.
LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE, I SHALL NOT BE HERE FOREVER
As professionals within our careers, parents and guardians of children and wards and custodians of the secret of life, there’s one vital issue that we must engage ourselves in with the right perspective. WE WILL NOT BE AROUND FOREVER. Hence, we must begin to lay tracks on the trail of life that others can learn from and do so much better than we ever did. If I succeed in ensuring that those I work with, my children and others who interact with me begin to launch out with ideas and solutions that trumps whatever I did at their age, then I can say, in some way, that I have fulfilled some part of the reason for my existence.