Monday, April 16, 2012

Education is War: Emmanuel Vodah--In Memoriam

Education is a war against ignorance. Quality science education is not cheap. If we are serious about science education, we should declare war on ignorance and provide the necessary resources to fight it” -- Marian Ewurama Addy

Intellectually, I have always accepted Marian Addy’s words. However, I never considered that, as in a conventional war, there will be physical casualties. AUST student Emmanuel Vodah (first on left) met an untimely death on Wednesday, March 11, 2012, in a motorbike-car collision. Our first fatality, at first glance it seems random.

However, at the time of his death, Emmanuel was earnestly waging the war against ignorance. Committed to being in this place at this time to do his part, he was nonetheless a casualty of a world in which a life can be snuffed out instantly due to unsafe roads and vehicles, a world in which those who have much are protected and those who have less are vulnerable.

I have often lamented the overcrowded conditions on the roads surrounding AUST-Abuja, in Nigeria’s capital city, and on several occasions have been in a vehicle that has been forced to the side of the road to make way for a motorcade escorting influential officials. Vodah envisioned a better and more just world, one that science, technology, engineering and creativity could help fashion.

His tragic death reminds us that if science and technology and education are to prevail over ignorance, they must be rooted in our world realities and aim at helping to restructure our priorities and institutions. Let us honor Emmanuel Vodah’s memory by recommitting and rededicating ourselves to the ideals for which he gave his life—to creating a safer, better world for everyone.

In closing, let me remark that, as a teacher, you tend to assume that you will depart this earth before your students. It's heartbreaking when they leave before you do. We shall always remember Emmanuel’s infectious optimism and confidence in AUST’s vision. Our deepest condolences to his family.

There is a hymn that captures the hope that Emmanuel lived and died by:

"In the bulb there is a flower;
in the seed, an apple tree;
in cocoons, a hidden promise:
Butterflies will soon be free!

There's a song in ev'ry silence,
seeking word and melody.
There's a dawn in ev'ry darkness,
bringing hope to you and me.

In our end is our beginning;
in our time, infinity;
in our doubt there is believing;
in our life, eternity.
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,

unrevealed until its season,
something God alone can see."

Rest in peace, dear son of AUST.

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