I Started “Tapping Palm Wine”, Selling Garri After My Business Partner Ran Away With My Money – Ebonyi Indigene And Orphan Who Bagged First Class From UNN Shares Experience

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By Wisdom Nwedene

In this interview with Wisdom Nwedene, an Ebonyi State Indigene, Onwe, Samuel Onwe who recently bagged First Class in English And Litrary Studies revealed how his business partner ran away with his money which made him to go into wine tapping, selling Garri in campus in order to survive.

1 Can We Get To Know More About You?

My name is Onwe, Samuel Onwe. I am a native of Ndegu Nwachi, Umuogudu-Oshia, Ngbo, Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. I was born into the family of Mr Livinus Onwe Elom and Mrs Maria Ogayi Elom, both of whom are now late. I attended Egwegwe Community Primary School Umuogudu-Oshia and Community Secondary School Abogodo. I also did my NCE at Federal College of Education Eha-amufu where I studied English Double Major. Through the help of God, I was able to graduate with distinction in English. In fact, it was a surprise to me when I heard my name mentioned as the best graduating student of both the Department of English and the School of Languages on the day of our convocation. I later got admission to University of Nigeria Nsukka where I studied English and Literary Studies. It is through the grace of God also that I was able to graduate with First Class.

2 Did You Have It In Mind That You Would Graduate With First Class Before Gaining Admission?

I actually hoped, but not expected, to graduate with First Class. My intention was just to graduate well. But so many of my friends usually reminded me that I could make it.

3 What Are The Challenges You Faced During Your Stay At UNN?

One of the most challenging situation I found myself in UNN was lack of money. I had saved some money before I got admission in 2018. I thought that would be enough, but it wasn’t so. I had also invested some of the money in a storage business. The only hope that remained when I began to run out of cash was that money in the storage and the profits I anticipated. I was nearly depressed when the boy with whom I did the business sold all the items we stored and ran away with both the capital and the profits. It was a terrible experience. That was when I was forced to go back to wine tapping. I did it during vacations, and sold garri on campus when school resumed. I had to convert my room into a store and deliver my wares to my customers who usually ordered it on phone. That was a serious distraction.
Another challenge which I had was clash of lectures. As direct entry students, we attended lectures with two different classes. You could be in one class and another lecture which you should attend will be going on somewhere else. If you complain, other students will ask you, ‘Do we displease all these people because of few of you?’ That alone could justify fixing a class at a time which is not convenient for direct entry students. Our opinions were hardly considered.

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4 Did Your Course Mates Know That You Were A Palm Wine Tapper?

How could I have told my friends or classmates on campus that I was a palm wine tapper? But let me tell you how I became so now that people are already aware of it.

I unintentionally learnt the skill from my late father. Each time my father went to sell his wine and couldn’t return by 12pm, I would help him do the afternoon routine. In such occasions, I made some mistakes which my father usually corrected. He also told me stories of how he learnt the trade from a stranger who lived with my grandfather. That may be my father’s indirect way of telling me to learn wine tapping. I remember I once told him that I cannot become a wine tapper, but he wittingly replied, ‘You can learn even if you don’t want to practice it.’ That was how I learnt it.
I began to tap wine when I was a student teacher. When survival becomes one’s need, not his want, he is bound to take decisions that are not ordinary. I came back that afternoon, and someone badged into my room to tell me my father fell from a palm tree. The only money I had in the whole of my life that day was fifty Naira, and I had to go to school the following day. The transport fare to the school was three hundred. Let me leave it like that.
I went back into tapping while I was in UNN. That became necessary when I had exhausted the whole money I saved while I was at home. I did my tapping during vacations, and sold garri when vacations were over. The latter nearly jeopardised my academic performance, and I had to stop it. In all these, I cannot forget how one of my friends, Mr Emmanuel Ugadu, encouraged me. He admiringly said ‘Honourable, isendidukwa anybodyee! [Which means “You are not discouraged be anybody’s negative opinions”] I love your style. One day, you will be great.’

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5 How Many Hours Did You Read Every Day?

I read each time I was in the mood of reading and as long as I could pay attention. Nothing ever stopped me from sleeping, and that was why I read mostly in the day and between 6pm and 11pm. All these depend on the material I read and the academic task at the moment.

6 What Message Do You Have For The Young Ones That Want To Study English And Litrary Studies?

My advise is for those who need_ not ‘want’ or are forced_ to do English and Literary Studies. Those in the other category need an expert to handle their cases, but for these ones, you have to read both widely and wisely_ except if it is not in such school as UNN. You should also learn how to write good essays because most questions who would have to answer in that department are written in the form of an essay. If I could do it well, you can do better.

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About Wisdom Nwedene 11691 Articles
Wisdom Nwedene studied English Language at Ebonyi State University. He is a writer, an editor and has equally interviewed many top Nigerian Politicians and celebrities. For publication of your articles, press statements, contact him via email: nwedenewisdom@gmail.com

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