I hawked bananas to help my father provide for the family - Female lecturer

- A female lecturer has recounted her ordeal as a banana hawker in Rivers state

- The lecturer said she was nearly killed by an 'impatient female driver' during one of the days she was hawking

- She said that experience made her return to school to further her education

A female lecturer at the Nnamdi Azikwe University, Awka, has recounted her ordeal as a hawker before completing her education.

Nonye Onyima who ended up bagging a PhD, in an interview with Punch said, she hawked bananas to help her father support the family.

Onyima said she was only 15 years old when her mother passed on and was forced by the circumstance to help her father with the family.

Sharing her experience, Onyima said: "I had to stop schooling and started hawking to help my Dad provide for the family.

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"Even at that, we were not able to meet up with feeding demands and rent. The first thing I sold was the food called ‘mama-put’.

"I hawked cooked rice and stew. Most times, there was nothing to eat, sometimes, we cooked unripe pawpaw and ate it with palm oil. It was at this juncture I decided to take the bull by the horn. I sold iced water (not ‘pure water’) and raised some money with which I later started selling fried groundnuts. Later, I went to learn how to make polythene bags and ice-cream," Onyima said.

She explained that she made up her mind to return to school after she was knocked down by an "impatient female driver" in Rivers state.

"I heard people shouting ‘motor don kill person’ and a crowd started running towards me. I had bruises on my body and my arm was broken, twisted anti-clockwise and swollen like a balloon. My bananas and about N5,000, being the sum of money that I realised from selling bananas and groundnuts on that day, had vanished. They were stolen," she said.

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The lecturer said the ‘hit and run’ driver had zoomed off but was pursued by some military officers who forced the driver to take her to the hospital in her car.

She however said the driver asked her to leave her car after they drove away from the scene since nobody else accompanied them in the vehicle.

"Unfortunately, they made the mistake of not asking one of them to accompany me. The lady drove to a swamp and asked me to come down.

"I begged her in Igbo not to throw me in the swamp but to keep me by the road side. When the brother-in-law (who was in the same car with us) heard me speak Igbo, he asked where I came from and I told him that I was a native of Imo state. Then he insisted that the woman must take me to the hospital.

"When we got to the entrance of the hospital, she refused to drive in. The brother-in-law ran to the nurses and doctors and told them she wanted to run away. That was how the nurses ran, caught up with her and pounced on her. The security personnel drove the car into the hospital, but she refused to pay a dime until the police was invited.

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"Later, my Dad said he trekked from Oyigbo to Port Harcourt in search of my corpse. A few days after that incident, one of my uncles living in the United States came home and heard what happened to me. He returned to the US and persuaded his siblings to send my siblings and me to school. My younger brothers and sisters went back to secondary school at their instance," Oyinma recounted.

She further secured an admission into the University of Ibadan where she studied Cultural Anthropology.

She said she sponsored herself through education up to masters' level and bought a Ph.D form immediately after graduation.

Onyima said: "In spite of all the challenges, I remained resolute and undeterred because I wanted to be a lecturer. After my Master degree programme, I bought the PhD form immediately. In five years after, I see myself as a post-doctoral researcher in an international research centre working on developmental issues bordering on health care for marginalised populations, analysing the complex problems of government’s inability to provide quality and affordable health care for all"

NAIJ.com earlier reported that a 12-year groundnut hawker, Favour Emmanuel, was enrolled into school.

Emmanuel was enrolled in school by a Ugomdi Ogbonna, a good Samaritan who picked interest in the little boy.

Ogbonna said he tried to inquire why the little boy who comes to his office everyday to sell his groundnut was not in school.

He said Emmanuel had told him that he stop school when his father died in Rivers state and they relocated to Aba to stay with his grandmother.

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