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Olufunke Gesinde is a school administrator and the daughter of Nigeria’s first female doctorate holder in Philosophy, Prof. Sophie Oluwole, who died in December, 2018. Just like many African mothers, Prof. Sophie was a very strict mother and lecturer, so much that her students called her a witch.

Olufunke was her mother’s student at the University of Lagos and she said that she never got any preferential treatment because of her mother. As a matter of fact, her mother tasked her and her siblings to be the best they could be.

In a very interesting interview with Punch, Olufunke shares more about her mum.

On childhood memories with her mother

My mother was a strict disciplinarian. Unfortunately, I am the first girl and she was hard on me especially. I didn’t like her at all when I was young. I recall that I confessed to her five years ago that I used to wish her dead then because I felt she didn’t like me. I thank God that He doesn’t answer stupid prayers. I started going to the market and cooking at 10.

She would give me a list of what to buy and I was in soup if I bought rubbish. I remember that then she used to tell me that she couldn’t eat baked beans ground with blender. I used to grind the beans on a grinding stone. By 7am, food must be ready. I would have woken up early to soak the beans in readiness for grinding and frying afterwards. Then, I would make pap and get everything ready by 7am.

At 10, the things I didn’t do were to pound yam or make amala (yam flour). She would tell others that whichever way I cooked the food was the way we would all eat it. I am a good cook today.  I was a simple child who did whatever I was told to do. By the time my sisters were born, they had no choice than to toe my footsteps. I was a teenager when our last born came and I took care of him from when he was three weeks old. My mother would sit beside me and tell me to bathe him and that soap must not enter his eyes or slip away from me.

I usually wondered why she gave birth to him if she couldn’t take care of him by herself. She used to tell me that my mates in the northern part of the country were already taking care of their children.  When I had my child later, it was easy for me. As I returned home from the hospital, I massaged him with hot water, used palm oil to scrub his body and threw him up to the extent that my sister-in-law wondered where I learnt all that. My mother gave me a good training.

On demanding excellence from her children

Yes, she used to mark scripts for the West African Examination Council. After I took the examination, she told me that she marked my scripts. I was happy that at least, I would pass most of the subjects. When the results were released, I had four credits and a pass in Bible Knowledge. I went to her and asked why she gave me a pass in the subject. She said she didn’t give me a pass in the subject but that it was what I scored. I told her she should have checked to see where I could get half mark in other answers to at least give me a credit. She said if she added a half mark, where would she tell her supervisor she got it from.

She told me she discovered that I knew the answers but didn’t know how to answer WAEC questions. She explained how to tackle the examination and the next time I sat for it, I passed excellently well.

When she was at the University of Lagos, my younger sister got below the 200 cut-off point. My mother insisted that she must make up for the mark. She had to retake the then Universities Matriculation Examination (now Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination) and it was the same situation. We didn’t bother to go to her.  It was at the third attempt that she got the right score to enter the university. My mother was that strict.

On enjoying any preferential treatment in the university because of her mum

I almost failed her course when I took it in part two. I had a friend in the university who we always studied together. If she got a B grade, I would get a few marks higher than her. When we took the examination, my mother’s secretary, who typed the results, discovered that my score was much lower than my colleague’s. She drew my mother’s attention to it.

But my mother told her to type out whatever she saw there as there was nothing she could do about it. It was at the final stage that my mother discovered that she didn’t add my continuous assessment. I did better than the girl when the CA was added. When I learnt of what happened, I went to my mother and she said it was a mistake and that anyone could make a mistake. I was shocked and asked why she would make a mistake only on my result among many other students who took the course.

In year three, she urged me to take another philosophy course, Philosophy of Education. I didn’t agree but I regret it today because being an educationist now, I would have gained something from it. I didn’t enjoy any preferential treatment while in the university. My mother was very strict. Even in the university, they used to call her a witch.

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