Posts Tagged ‘EDUCATION’


September 6, 2018


May 26, 2014



We are not ashamed to be called the church of the rich–Oyedepo


Bishop David Oyedepo

Founder, Living Faith Church aka Winners Chapel, Bishop David Oyedepo, in this interview with Olabisi Deji-Folutile, GBENRO ADEOYE and TUNDE AJAJA, talks about the church and sundry issues

You preach as if you have committed the entire Bible to your memory. How many times have you read the Bible?

The Bible is an unfinishable book, you keep reading. A student once met me after a meeting and said that I quoted 68 scriptures verbatim. He asked if I memorised the scriptures, I said no, I eat them. No matter how unintelligent you are, you can’t forget the food you ate last night, except you are mentally derailed. If you are given three seconds, you could tell what you ate about five days ago, if you truly ate it. So, the Bible is just not for reading, it’s actually for eating. I’m not among the people that have read the Bible three or five times, I don’t know how many times I have read the Bible and I’m not planning to know how many times. I just know it’s my delight to feed on it daily, and I can’t claim to have finished reading it.

The Living Faith church is 33 years old, how has it been pastoring this one church for the past years?

The ministry is 33 years, the church is now in its 31st year. It started as an itinerant ministry before we were called into the church ministry. It has always been interesting. These things work when you have the right perspective on them. Every pastor is ordained to serve the congregation, not to be served by the congregation. When that understanding dawns on any pastor, and he embraces it, then, pasturing becomes a sweet adventure. I’ve never looked towards what I can get from any member since inception. But I’ve always longed for what I can give to the people. I must say I’m jealous over them, I don’t want anyone to take advantage of them or play games on them. I want them to just be the children of God that they are, serving God without duress or pressure.

Is it true that church members here pray for the dead and they wake up, even in the mortuary, how do they do it?

(Cuts in..) By tapping them and saying wake up (laughs). We must know the source of everything that we experienced or observed. No man has the power to raise the dead. Jesus is the only one that has the keys of resurrection and death in his hands. So, we rely on him to do those things and he quickens whosoever he wills; he determines who to bring back and who not to. We only believe in God to bring back whosoever he wishes, if we have the key, we would be delighted to bring back everybody, and even open a clinic for bringing back the dead.

Why are there so many rich people in Winners?

Because they know better than their contemporaries. If you don’t know what you have, you won’t know if you are deprived of it. The Bible is an open chequebook, it is by revelation we access what belongs to us; by faith we take delivery of it. Someone had access to our empowerment programme and she is a pepper seller, while others sell one basket a day, she sells six, seven. I learnt she had become the envy of all the pepper sellers in her area. Such person has an understanding that whatever she does, she prospers and she knows that when she pays her tithe, she experiences open heavens. But in case people don’t know, they perish for lack of knowledge, and in case they think when you are rich you miss heaven, then they perish for lack of knowledge.

So, it’s right when people claim that this church is only for the rich?

It’s for all the people who believe that Jesus already paid for them to be rich. And those who don’t believe, when they come they start believing when they see it happen in a lot of people’s lives. And we are not ashamed to be called the church of the rich. If they call your family poor, will you be excited? Nobody would be excited. Even when a family is poor, they hate to be called poor. No man in his right mind enjoys being called poor, and nobody truly wants to be poor, people may pretend. Which is more honourable between being a giver and a beggar? Most of us came in very poor, but the light of God’s word came on us and we walked out of poverty in grand style into wealth and riches.

How come there is such wealth in the church despite the poverty in the nation?

The kingdom of God is funded by God’s resources. We are not funded by the economy of the world, but by the economy of the kingdom, which has a budget for all of its agenda on earth. We’ve been here since 1999 and we have never had power outage or water shortage. The main players are Nigerians, the builders are Nigerians. There is no building here that any foreign expert took part in. There is no foreign company’s presence here, including the tabernacle. Some of the revered foreign companies here in Nigeria are technicians in Germany, and they are all political contractors, not that they have something special to offer.

Is there any way we can translate this into the Nigerian system?

It is possible by believing in the capability and capacity of Nigerians to do whatever they need to do. This is the largest church auditorium in the world. It’s 104m free span wide. Even one of the reputed foreign construction companies came here to take pictures. Nigerians have unusual capacity to match any expertise in the world in any field they are involved in. Most of us go to school in foreign lands and we beat them, is it that when they get here, they become smarter? It’s just for the authorities at the various levels to believe that we cannot develop ourselves seeking foreign aides for everything. We must take advantage of the opportunities around us to develop the capacity of our men and women. This office was built in 2001 and it’s neat and there is no crack on the wall, so, what is the problem? But if we want to do anything, we must give it to people from foreign countries so that those who award the contract can have a deal and share the money and at the end of the day, they are still poorer than poverty because any money stolen never enhances a man’s value.

We learnt your church members once donated about 700 cars as seed and that the cars were given to the pastors?

It’s important to mention that there was no time that I know in the history of this church where there were 700 cars. There is no such story. People can make anything out of anything. There was a time they said we had six planes, and I said they didn’t count them well, they should be up to 30 so that we use one each day of the month. Those are things that make news in the social media even when they are lies. People give here because they are taught to give, because we understand from the scriptures that it is the only way to increase. Every normal Winner takes good care of his parents. We also give to the poor. My family has sponsored close to 150 people out of university and others at Landmark University are on scholarship on our own ticket because of our commitment to agriculture. It is a lifestyle; it didn’t start yesterday or two days ago. Since 1992, I have been consciously sponsoring students in various universities in Nigeria. The church is blessed because the church is a giving church. Just today (before you came), I signed millions for people who have health needs from the welfare account. And that continues. For instance, the church gives scholarships annually, not N100m or N150m. And it’s not in the news. And that we have been doing for years.

How do you feel when people accuse you of flying in jets and spending church money to maintain the jets?

I feel very good. It’s an opinion. Let me tell you what my understanding of persecution is; it’s simply an opinion harshly expressed. And everybody has a right to his opinion. People who are walking in the truth are hardly bothered when things are said negatively about them because they have nothing to hide. The truth is I have never felt it, some say it’s not human, but I have not. I can’t be wasting my time trying to reply lies because I have too many things to do. They are doing their work, let me be doing my work too and before they wake up in the morning, I’ve done the next one, so, it doesn’t matter. My idea of it is that, in a football match, you have only 22 people playing with thousands of spectators. And that is the way it is in the journey of life. In every field, you find just few players and many spectators, multitudes. If we don’t know where to place opinions, they will displace us. When we started Convenant University, so many people said it would not work, now, we hosted two Nobel Laureates this week, whereas no Nigerian university has ever hosted one in the history of university education in Nigeria. Now, it is the most pronounced and preferred private university in Nigeria. In fact, they say this is the university of the future; that is what they say in the university community. Those who said it could not work now have their children here because they have changed their mind. Some people say how can you tell children how to dress? We have to do that so they won’t behave like mad people on the street. They say how can you tell them they can’t use phone? We tell them so they would be disconnected from cultism. Ask me anything, I can tell you why we did it. Where are you going to find the President of a nation with a woven hair? I can tell you that in the next 100 years, you won’t find a male president using earring because they would count you as irresponsible, even in the secular world, they won’t see anything in you. As free as America is, have you ever seen any minister there with earrings? The person may be qualified, but he will be termed irresponsible. But if you train these children how to carry themselves, it will open up their future. Everywhere you get to in this world, people are looking for responsible people, who don’t only say so, but prove so. So, all the opinions on Covenant University have died now because we didn’t stop pursuing what we believe was right and now it has become a standard.

Is that why the CU had the highest number of first class graduates that won the Federal Government’s scholarship twice now?

What we do first is to package the man to suit the future that he is dreaming of. And that we do by injecting our seven core values into them, and we used SIM CARDS as the acronym for it: Spirituality, Integrity, Posssibility Mentality, Capacity Building, Responsibility, Diligence and Sacrifice. We package that into them so that right from here, they have two things; character and capacity working for them. With those two, you can go to any level in life. Here, there is time for everything.

We learnt the university wants to be one of the top 10 universities in the world in 2020. Don’t you think this is a tall dream?

Where we are today, Harvard was not there 100 years after it took off. I studied the world class universities in depth. So, we are closest to it. The two Nobel Laureates that came signed up as visiting professors at Covenant University, we have about five of them in different areas. That somebody has never done it does not mean it cannot be done. We are believing God for it, not by using strength and power. There is a particular university in the US that never takes anybody from outside North America for postgraduate studies, but we have 19 Covenant University graduates there. Prof. Okebukola shared that with me at the conference last week. A Covenant University graduate is the overall best graduating student in a school in Britain. So there is increasing expression in the quality of training that they receive in their respective areas. Except the dream is taller than God; if it’s not taller than God, it’s a cheap possibility.

We even learnt the church is planning to establish two more universities?

It is actually seven in our vision plan.

Are universities now secondary schools that you establish here and there?

We are trying to avoid having too many students on one campus so that we will not lose the quality of the training programme. Otherwise, the quality would wear down gradually. But because of the present security challenge that the nation is facing, it’s normal for us to review our approach in a manner that does not create tension for workers and anybody else. We believe God to help us out of the crisis. So if there are no adequate mentioning of our programmes, it is to create adequate room to see these security issues overturned.

Some people believe faith-based universities charge high tuition that some of their members can’t even afford…

They should bring the comparison. You know people talk all kinds of things. Compare what they pay here and there and what those payments cover. The rate of power consumption in the hostels alone is out of this world. All we need to juxtapose this is that they should rent the room and pay for electricity and they would pay ten times the amount. People should just sit down and find out what exactly they are paying for. The church has not drawn anything from Covenant University since inception in 12 years. But this year, the church reserves about N1.6bn stakes in its development. So, it’s not a business, it’s a service platform. In every nation of the world, the government subsidises education to all the stakeholders, not in this country, not a dime has ever crossed from government to any private university in Nigeria. And ask those who are in it how much profit they are making, they would explain to you how it has been wonderful to pay staff salaries and keep the system running. Move to the next country where people rush to study, look at how much they pay and what they get for it. Whether they have teachers or not doesn’t matter. But every visiting professor here takes more than N1m. We are not talking about top individuals, Nobel Laureates and others. So, it’s where we find ourselves and we want to make a difference, and we must make a difference. I want to believe that the private universities are doing the best they can. Ask the federal universities how they get their allocations, what they calculate to train a child out of the university. Ask them what it is and ask them who subsidises for private universities. Most of them don’t have any equipment whatsoever. There is no engineering equipment you are looking for that you won’t find here, bought brand new. If the government is not accepting responsibility, all we can do is to do the best we can to get these children trained, but at a cheaper cost than they do and with greater quality than they have. Those who cannot afford it can go to government institutions and if they are committed, they will still come out with good results.

The attention of the whole world has turned to Nigeria because of Boko Haram. What is your take on this?

I hope that we are willing to find solution to it. I would be the last person in this world to believe that government has not discovered those who are behind Boko Haram. Otherwise, we don’t have any intelligence service in our country. Are they sacred cows that cannot be brought to book? Until we cut the source of their supplies and get those who are involved, we cannot stop them. But the danger is this, and I must say it here, we are at the verge of a break up. That is the truth. It’s unfortunate. The Nigerian nation is too intelligent to claim not to have discovered those who are behind this. So, I really believe it’s all in the hands of the authorities to decide whether they want to confront the issue headlong or to keep watching it until Nigeria breaks up.

Does it mean there is nothing the church or other religious organisations can do?

All that the church can do is to pray. The church is not in power, it has no political power. And when invited, we give advice, when required or called upon. You can’t call someone and say can I advise you?

But people also criticise men of God like you for honouring the President’s invitations?

A president is a president, whether it is Jonathan or not, It would be stupid not to honour your President’s invitation. So, what is wrong with honouring the president? This is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He’s our President, not that he made himself President. It’s all nonsense. We are not politicians. We are men and women of God who are pursuing a divine call. I honour President Jonathan as our President as a nation and as my president as a citizen, and so I have no regret and I would never regret being there at anytime he calls. My understanding is that anyone who is the President of this country requires the honour of the citizens and no matter your political view, it doesn’t change it. If he is doing thanksgiving or marriage, he is doing it in the church, who would be with him if the men of God are not with him? If I were in Canada or Australia, and I knew that my President was having an occasion that I thought I had to be there with him to honour him, I would fly down here. Whether it is President Jonathan or somebody else, as long as it is the president, and he says please can I see you, it is an honour.

Apart from insecurity, corruption is another problem in Nigeria. We have looting here and there which is also capable of causing unrest. What is your take on the corruption in the country?

That comes down to the kind of education that we offer. This is nothing but the expression of the content of the men. For instance, I have never given a bribe and I would be the last to give a bribe. I would rather die than give one. And those who collect bribe know that they can’t collect from me. Corruption has stayed with us for too long and I think it is a breeding ground for revolution. There is nothing happening in any private university today that would not have happened more in public universities, but for leakages here and there. But my understanding is that the church has a place of intense prayers because only God can change the hearts of men. People seek for appointment today not because of what they want to contribute but what they would have to share. Everybody is bothered, I am bothered. The rate of corruption in our society as Nigerians and Africans is enormous. But the church needs to be the example of what it wants to see in the society as far as corruption is concerned. Be that example; be able to say no and stand with it like Daniel. Right now, unlike in the time past, there are many Christians occupying sensitive positions at all strata of both public and private sectors. If the church people really come to a point of taking a stand against corruption, it would affect and impact Nigeria and the citizens positively.

Some people think there are too many churches in Nigeria and the best way to make money is to establish a church…

Let them go and start one. Almost every house in some parts of Nigeria is a mosque. So what is the complaint about? Multitudes still flock the roads on Sunday mornings going nowhere. Are churches enough? No. Until everybody is saved and everybody is off the street on Sunday mornings, we don’t have enough churches. So for those who are angry, they would be angry for too long because we haven’t seen churches yet. A time is coming on Sunday morning that we won’t see anybody on the street, because they would be in church. And those who go to church to make money go bankrupt before they start. Church is not a money-making platform; it is a life-raising platform.

There are many men and women who are coming out to start stronger ministries than the ones we are doing. So, you can’t say enough. Enough of what? Why don’t you say people in the market are enough? Somebody else is starting shoe or wrist watch business today in spite of the millions that are in it in Nigeria. Some barbers are just graduating today to join the company of barbers in the country already, yet we didn’t say they are enough. So, what’s the headache? My submission is that we don’t have near enough churches in Nigeria yet and the ones we have are doing well. I can tell you that there are hundreds and thousands of vibrant and Bible-believing, heaven-focused and life-changing churches, founded by genuine people who are called by God and are pursuing their callings and ours is just only a little thing out of too many, and many more would still rise, so anybody that wants to be angry can just get ready to be more angry. Church is not a money-making venture, those who are saying it is should open one and they would make a lot of money.

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March 28, 2014



February 2014

A Call to Action

EBONY partners with the White House to spark an important nationwide conversation about our children

A Call to Action

For President Barack Obama, a father with two daughters, preparing African-American students for the academic future is one of his top priorities—and, perhaps, one of his most daunting challenges.

Obama has an ambitious vision for the nation’s Black students during his last two years in the White House: ensuring that all African-American pupils receive an education that fully gets them ready for high school graduation, college completion and productive careers in a highly competitive global job market.

After signing an executive order that created the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans in 2012, the president is dedicating new resources to enable African-American students to improve their educational achievement and prepare them for college and a range of professions after graduation.

“The Obama administration, through the creation of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, is dedicating time, energy and resources to help seriously address the challenges facing many African-American students today,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told EBONY.

“Regardless of zip code, every child in this country should have access to a high-quality education that adequately prepares [him or her] for college and career,” Duncan said.  “For the nation to fulfill the president’s goal of leading the world in college graduates by 2020, we will need a significant number of African-Americans to be part of those numbers, and I’m hopeful that the initiative’s work can help contribute to that ambitious goal.”

For years, civil rights advocates have argued that America’s public schools are failing Black male students. In fact, government officials say many African-American students, both male and female, lack equal access to highly effective teachers and principals, safe schools and challenging college-preparatory classes, and they disproportionately experience school discipline and referrals to special education.

In 2014, The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans will partner with Johnson Publishing Company, Inc. to produce a “summit series” designed to raise awareness about the White House initiative and encourage much-needed positive conversations about African-American student achievement.

The summits will be held at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Feb. 13–14, 2014; at Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss., April 25–26, 2014; at Laney College in Oakland, Calif., June 13–14, 2014; and at the University of Pennsylvania in  Philadelphia, Oct. 24–25.

“The initiative is uniquely positioned to support African-American students from cradle to career,” David J. Johns, executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, told EBONY. “For the first time, there is a central office within the government to identify and disseminate best practices that ensure African-American students are supported academically and developmentally, beginning at birth.”

Michael H. Cottman, an author and award-winning journalist, covers the White House for He is also co-host of the nationally syndicated radio show Keeping It Real With Rev. Al Sharpton.OBAMA



May 24, 2013



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Opon Ifa and OpeleOne feels compelled to write this piece on the recent announcement by the government of the State of Osun on the introduction of the study of Ifa religion in all its schools. While no time should be wasted in congratulating the government led by the visionary Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola on this courageous and needful step, a conscious attempt must also be made to educate those who may be genuinely regarded as ignorant on the socio-legal imperative of permitting a pan Yoruba ethos play a pivotal role in the development of a society. All efforts made at raising the level of development must be anchored on this all-embracing substratum. As for the mischievous and the proselytising hypocrites, commercial religionists with vast business empires which thrive on the very objects of deceptive public excoriation, we must hasten to allay their fears that this novel but necessary introduction will not affect the enterprise of “miraculous healing” and the promise of prosperity in a land already devastated by political locusts.

A multi cultural milieu, such as Nigeria, must recognise and accept the reality of ethno-religious pluralism and the attendant divergence to promote equity, fairness and justice among the ethnic nationalities and groups, the necessary conditions for amity, peaceful co-existence and realistic aspirations towards growth. This is the irreducible minimum below which no group should be subjected. The omniscient posture adopted by the adherents of the so called prominent religions, Christianity and Islam, exposes abysmal ignorance on the essence of other indigenous religions and explains why intolerance adorns an official garb in various shades. This combative attitude is also symptomatic of a post-colonial society still reeling from the debilitating effects of foreign subjugation in all ramifications.

The dubious and ostentatious display of piety by these self-appointed men of God, on one hand, and their obscene materialistic disposition, is more than sufficient to cause a serious study into the misfortune of a society in decline. We leave this interesting topic for another time. For now it suffices to assert that this present move by the government is the most significant since independence. If development is about the people, then it should be taken as given that understanding the ways of life of all who live in the society is a sine qua non to planning. The challenges faced by various categories of people compel introspection and determination which will ultimately lead to progress. Professional politicians, deprived of patronage for two years now in the State of Osun, considered the source of the people of the south western part of the country, will also stop at nothing to confuse the people who have been dispossessed over the years.

If our children are made to study foreign religions and some even get higher degrees, including PhDs, knowing other peoples’ cultures, then it is rather salutary that a government is considering making the study of Ifa religion an option in the school curriculum in the State of Osun, albeit belatedly. Nigeria is a place where elites take pride on being proficient speaking and writing other people’s languages. We crave advancement depending solely on the cultural ethos of other lands. Our claims to decency are often predicated on the fact of our adherence to the precepts of either of these foreign religions. We are nurtured to imbibe the customs and traditions of those who treated our ancestors with utter contempt. We grew to hate what is truly ours. We receive awards aping the ways of life of other lands. What belongs to us is despised and treated with unimaginable derision. Our cultures are subjected to foreign prisms in determining their acceptability.

It is expected that deluded beings, who either believe genuinely in the myth of superiority of these imposed sub-sets, products of the perceptions of other peoples on natural phenomena observable within their societies, will join issues with this truly progressive leader of the people. What we must, however, eschew is silence which suggests connivance at the unwarranted attacks on the dynamic governor who has turned the fortunes of the state around positively with the little resources at his disposal. Nuhu Ribadu, a man not known to suffer fools gladly, just attested to the sterling qualities of this exceptional character. Several other people have been commenting on this ascetic being whose energy belies his physical stature.

Religion was central to the development of ancient Egyptian civilization. The challenges faced by the Egyptians compelled them to look for solutions in the spiritual realm. Disasters, prominent among which was the constant inundation of the Nile were considered as sanctions from the celestial beings. These ancient people used their belief in life after life and the existence of a supernatural being, Ra, whose decisions were unquestionable, to interact with their natural environment. The modern world is the direct beneficiary of the legacies of their fecund minds. Their children were nurtured on the nuggets of beliefs which propelled keen observation of natural phenomena. This attitude gave provenance to the unparalleled scientific discoveries for which the Egyptians are still widely acknowledged.
The originality of the thought process ensured that all nations in the ancient world looked up to it. Greece became the greatest beneficiary of this unique ancient civilization and, by necessary implication, the western world in the modern sense of the expression. What the average hypocritical and ignorant Nigerian will regard as superstitious and sinful formed the basis upon which his faith predicated on this imported religion is established. The judicial system of the ancient Egyptians was an aggregate of their socio-cultural values. These were contained in the curricula of the schools at various levels of learning.

The Chinese also developed their civilization independent of other existing ones relying heavily on their cultural values. China today is an exemplar in advancement because it has never allowed any undue influence on her socio-political system built on oriental values. This country stands out today as a bulwark of inspiration when most western nations are grappling with issues of survival occasioned by debilitating economic circumstances. A Chinese child will never look up to the west for socio-economic redemption. The child believes that his/her language is the best and only learns other foreign languages to derive advantage in a competitive world. He/She does not in any way feel inferior to the western child. The state has no official religion yet the Chinese child is not precluded from studying any subject of interest.

American students now come to Nigeria to study specific aspects of our much despised culture. They speak impeccable Yoruba, Hausa or Igbo, among other Nigerian languages. That is not a challenge to them at all. They are keen researchers on the mysteries of our ancestral past. They come to study Egungun cult, the talking drum and its significance in information dissemination, cultural values as encapsulated in the Odu Ifa corpus, among others. They become initiates of the Ifa religion which ignorant and ill-educated Africans denigrate. The tragedy of the whole scenario is that they are now in a position to educate us on our past. While we struggle to ape the Europeans, Americans and Arabs, we have become alienated from our origin. Nothing from us is good except it is subjected to western approval. So deracinated and uprooted from our origin have they become that fanatical members of some families openly destroy artifacts and other valuable vestiges of the glorious epoch when crass mercantilism had no impact on the psyche of the people.
Traditional rulers are the most pitiable characters of these tragic-comic elements. Some of them employed all manner of under hand methods to subvert the process of selection to become deluded kings in a republic. Once they ascend the so called throne of their fore-fathers they soon discover that their past was sinful. In their hypocritical exhibition of vacuous devotion, they destroy shrines and shun religious rites which justify their anachronistic existence in the first place. They invite commercial pastors to come and preach to their so called subjects to do away with the traditional ways. These religious businessmen in turn flaunt these clowns as trophies won in the battle to civilise the natives. They denigrate the very essence of their sustenance as custodians of the people’s customs and tradition.

They cherish the flowing three-piece traditional attire and the complementary pony tail, veritable emblems of indulgence and vanity. And just as their forbears collaborated with slave traders, commercial precursors of the proselytising hypocrites to raid villages and hamlets for slaves, they too are willing participants in the pillaging of the resources of the state at the local government level. Very few of them deserve attention in the midst of decent people.

Granted that the retrogressive position held on indigenous religions is correct, does it not make sense that our children are trained to know why their ancestral past must be condemned? We have fed generations of Nigerians, nay Africans, on foreign diets before independence through post colonial period to the present time. The ultimate ambition of an average child is to be white in everything. Is it not ironic that at a time when the western world looks towards African for cultural renaissance our people strive unabashedly to cast aside everything which reminds them of their beginnings?

Adherents of African traditional religions have been discriminated against over the years. The Nigerian experience has been heart-corroding. Supposedly educated religionists jettison family names which remind them of “pagan” practices. They adopt scriptural names of other cultures alien to the continent without understanding their significance. Thus we see funny names such as “Olugbemi” in place of “Fagbemi”. Jesus, which is a very common name among the Jews, is affixed to praise names to depict piety. What ignorance!

The new policy on education in the State of Osun will afford our children the opportunity to know that the difference you find in all religions of the world is in the practice. Doctrinal issues have now subsumed the didactic and edifying aspects of religion. In Nigeria economic consideration far out-weighs the sincere quest for spiritual regeneration. The Osun example has exposed the lie peddled by people who exploit religion for selfish purposes. Our children must be allowed to know something about what they are called upon to hate. They should be able to decide if there is any remarkable difference between the promoted religions and the message in the Ifa corpus. Students whose parents are adherents of Ifa religion must also be allowed to study their faith in an ambience devoid of discrimination and intolerance. Virtues such as continence, loyalty, honesty, piety, civic responsibility, devotion to parents and elders, humility, among others, are embedded in Ifa. Any child who has the good fortune of being nurtured on this unadulterated teaching will be useful to himself and the community at large. The hypocritical posture of politicians on this policy must be condemned.

Our children must be allowed to understand, for instance, that Esu, the perfect trickster with a dual personality is not Satan or Lucifer, the arch angel in the Christian pantheon of the gods. When our children hear names such as Esubiyi, Esugbayi or Esuronmbi, the ready connotation in their minds is the devil of the Bible or the Quran. They cannot fathom why anyone who is not insane will bear such names in the society. Beyond names, certain virtues are considered the exclusive preserve of the established religions. Experience has, however, shown that there is a wide gulf between mere avowal and the actual deeds of those who profess piety.

The very first lesson to the Ifa devotees is on contentment as against complacency.

“Ohun enu ri ni enu nje,
adifa fun igbin ti o je erupe la”.”

The mouth is satisfied with whatever comes as food just as the snail relishes in the nutrients of the soil.” There are fables of the adventures of Orunmila or Obatala which are also didactic. The treacherous deeds of the bush rat, Okete and Osanyin, are replete in the Ifa corpus. The consequences of unfaithful deeds are taught with the fables of these mythical characters. Temperance is a virtue of the gods and any mortal lucky enough to be endowed with this special gift will experience peace which is beyond the understanding of man. A man’s character determines how successful he will be on earth. The story of “Iwa” teaches us that one of the greatest gifts bequeathed by the gods to man is the ability to do what is right.

I had the rare privilege of listening to Professor Olu longe who informed most of us who were ignorant of the invaluable contribution of the Ifa religion to the Yoruba accounting system. The basis of the computer is the Odu. The first 8 in 2 places making 16 multiplied by 16 making 256 to infinity is the principle upon which the operation of the computer is based. Whoever insists that our children do not deserve to know this fact is not only ignorant but wicked. I enthusiastically recommend the eminent professor’s lecture, “Irapada Onka Isembaye wa ni ile Yoruba”, to those who may not know that such as the ancient Egyptian religion, the Ifa corpus contains aspects of science, mathematics, accounting, medicine and ethics. It is most unlikely that any child properly nurtured on these pristine values can ever grow to become a burden to the society.

The government of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola is among the very few that can be regarded as focused. All good people must come together to encourage this exceptional leader who has displayed rare administrative acumen amidst the daunting challenges faced by him since he assumed office as the governor. Other ACN governors should follow the good example of this diminutive man who has taken giant strides in ensuring real development in a state once ravaged by locusts.

Doyin Odebowale, PhD, LLB (Hons), BL.
Lecturer, Department of Classics, University of Ibadan.


May 24, 2013

Osun students to study Ifa – Aregbesola
Our Reporter January 3, 2013 28 Comments »
Osun students to study Ifa – Aregbesola

…Says computer tablet has application for Ifa studies


The Osun State Government has announced a comprehensive plan for the state’s secondary school students to study Ifa as one of their subjects.

The state Governor, Ogbeni Raufu Aregbesola, said the schools’ computer tablet had application for Ifa studies.

Aregbesola made the relevation yesterday during the special prayers session to usher in the New Year, organized with clerics from all religions praying for the peace and growth of the state.

Clerics who offered special prayers for the state included the President General, League of Imams and Alfas in the South-West, Alhaji Mustapha Ajisafe; the Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the state, Evangelist Abraham Aladeseye; and frontline Ifa priest, Chief Ifayemi Elebuibon, among others.

The special prayer affected official functions in the state secretariat and other government offices, as top civil servants across all parastatal agencies graced the occasion held in the premises of the Bola Ige House, state secretariat, Abere, Osogbo.

Bishop of Osogbo Diocese of the Methodist Church, Bishop John Bamigboye, advised the government to compensate those whose property were demolished as a result of the ongoing road dualization in the state.

Bamigboye enjoined the government to return Christian and Islamic Religious Studies to all primary and secondary schools in the state.

Governor Aregbesola, in his remarks at the ceremony, declared that 2013 would be a year of total freedom for the state, stressing that the year would be for the people of the state a year of total turn-around and liberty.

According to the governor, the government’s major desire for the state in 2013 is to ensure the fulfillment of the desires of the state’s founding fathers, stressing: “Osun State will be freed in 2013 from hunger, mystery, poverty and under-development.”

He said his government has paid over N600 million as compensation to owners of demolished structures, even as he assured that those who were yet to receive their compensation would get theirs soon.

Aregbesola also disclosed that his government had returned religious studies to all public primary and secondary schools in the state, adding that the free computer tablet tagged ‘opon Imon’, which the government would present to secondary school students had an application for Ifa studies.

He also prayed for peace and development of the state in 2013 and urged all the people to support his government and the country with prayers, saying: “Nigeria needs prayers for an end to come to the security problem confronting the northern part of the country.”

Aregbesola added that his desire for the year was to make the state the envy of other states in the country, saying he had come to the state to do the works of God.



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October 21, 2012


New Robes For Ekiti Schools As Govt Embarks On Operation Renovate All Schools

Renovatedd Corpus Christi College, Ilawe-Ekiti

They sat around in groups, their faces a palpable picture of downright disbelief, enthusing about the incredible transformation that had taken place in their school. Some others loitered here and there, idling about in ones and twos, conversing in soft, measured tones. They were students of Ola Oluwa Muslim Grammar School, one of the first generation secondary schools situated along Ilawe Road in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital.

On Monday, October 2, students of public primary and secondary schools resumed across Ekiti State for the 2012/2013 academic session. While a few of the students went about their normal duties, many were those that could not hide their excitement as they stared, with mouths agape, at the changes that their schools had undergone during the eight-week school break.

“When we came back from the long vacation, we were surprised that our school had been totally transformed,” Adebayo Ojo, a Form Two student of the school, informed the reporter last week. “Although we had been told that the government would renovate our school, we are still surprised at the way they have touched everything here. We are very, very happy. Even though somebody had told me during the break that our school was being renovated, I did not know that it was something of this nature. We are very happy with Governor Fayemi. We have been praying for him and we are also assuring him that we will not do anything to damage the new facilities here.”

Ojo is not alone; neither are the prayers and the excitement restricted to the Ado-Ekiti based school. In many towns and villages in the three senatorial districts in Ekiti State, not a few are those that daily go on bended knees to seek divine blessings for the state governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi over the renovations that his administration is carrying out in the state-owned schools.

In truth, hardly will you resist the urge to join the applauding crowd, unless you’re ignorant of the pitiable state of public schools in Ekiti before Fayemi’s intervention.

Along Ilawe Road in Ado-Ekiti, a new Ola Oluwa Grammar School smiles at you. The school wears a refreshing robe, with its new and renovated buildings radiating in yellow and red even as the red aluminium roofing sparkles in the afternoon sun.

Ten kilometres away, at the Corpus Christi College, Ilawe-Ekiti, a similar situation obtains. From the road, the school buildings look palatial, covered by a neat line of gangling trees, with the smiles on the pupils’ faces betraying the joy in their souls.

In Ijero, Ilejemeje, Moba, Ise, Ido-Osi and all the local government areas in Ekiti, many schools are wearing new looks, as the government concludes the first phase of the Operation Renovate All Schools in Ekiti (ORASE) scheme, an initiative of the Kayode Fayemi administration.

Right now in Ekiti, public schools are undergoing massive renovation. Of the 183 public secondary schools in the state, about 100 have just been renovated under the ORASE scheme. The remaining 83 have been scheduled to benefit from the programme during the first term holidays in December.

Yet, just a few weeks back, most schools in the state were in a sorry state. The buildings were dilapidated, while many of the roofs had already caved in. Many classrooms had neither doors nor windows, and water flooded the classrooms and staff rooms at the slightest drop of rain. Naturally, coming from such decayed environment, many students recorded abysmal grades in the local examinations as well as in the national SSCE and NECO examinations. A state that had always prided itself as one inhabited by a people of high intellect with a passion for scholarship suddenly metamorphosed into an abode of half-baked, barely literate men and women.

When Fayemi mounted the saddle as governor two years ago, the activist-politician wasted no time before convening an education summit in the state. Various experts and stakeholders converged on the state capital to ruminate over and propose solutions to the crisis that had enveloped the education sector in the state once celebrated for its knack for academic excellence. Over the years, education in the place nicknamed the Fountain of Knowledge had been buffeted by a surfeit of problems. Participants at the summit came up with a number of recommendations to upgrade the quality of basic, secondary and tertiary education in the state.

According to the experts, one of the major causes of the woes in the secondary education system in Ekiti was the dilapidated infrastructure in public schools. The summit noted that excellence had taken a flight from the public school system since the schools lacked good buildings, access roads, functional libraries and laboratories and other basic amenities. The summit recommended that the government should embark on a number of projects and processes, including the renovation of existing structures, perimeter fencing of schools, rehabilitation of access/intra-premises road network, employment of retired, seasoned teachers as neighbourhood inspectors and in-service training, seminars and conferences for school teachers.

No sooner was the summit concluded than Fayemi commenced implementing the recommendations with a view to permanently arresting the rot in the secondary education system. The renovation of schools could not commence immediately though, as the schools were in session. But as soon as students went on holidays in July, Fayemi flagged off the Operation Renovate All Schools in Ekiti (ORASE), and massive rehabilitation work started in 100 of the 183 schools.

“Yes, we are very educated, but we lack skills,” Fayemi said in an interview at the Government House in Ado-Ekiti. “The people we’re producing from our university system, yes, they carry the paper degree and the certificate, but they cannot function in the work environment competently. These are challenges that are long-term, that our people do not see in the immediate, but that we must address. For me, leadership is about that. Leadership is not just about physical projects that people can see now. It is what we make of those physical projects.”

At the flag-off of the programme, Fayemi had declared: “Our resolve to ensure that this impartation of functional educational is done under a conducive atmosphere informed the Operation Renovation All Schools in Ekiti (ORASE). We cannot afford to live on past glory or allow our education system to continue to produce half baked products neither good for higher education nor for job creation and wealth generation which are our focus.”

Under ORASE, government set aside the sum of N2.2 billion for the renovation of the schools even as contracts for their renovation were awarded to competent firms. The government also set up a Bureau of Special Projects in the Office of the Governor, headed by a Special Adviser, Mr. Bayo Kelekun. The contractors were directed to hand over the renovated schools before the commencement of the new academic calendar in September.

They were mandated to pull down the ramshackle school buildings and replace them with new ones. They were to also cover the buildings with new, state-of-the-art aluminium roofs. To ensure compliance with government specifications, Fayemi traversed the entire state, inspecting the handiwork of the contractors.

At Ola-Oluwa, the contractors were putting finishing touches to the buildings when The Sun team called. The project manager, Mr. Akeem Momodu, said his firm’s mandate was to deliver 24 totally renovated schools in Ekiti Central Senatorial District to the state government. The schools being renovated by his company were virtually ready, he said.

“As you can see, the job is 80 per cent completed. We are rounding off on the issue of aluminium roofing and the rest. We’re putting windows and doors and painting the rooms.”

Besides renovating schools, the governor also came up with the idea of putting a laptop on the desk of every child in the state. When he mooted the idea, not a few people were unconvinced. Many were even suspicious of the governor’s intentions. But Fayemi, a product of the esteemed Christ’s School located in the state capital, was determined. He said by 2014, no fewer than 100, 000 children would have benefitted from the computers. Already, 33, 000 laptops have been distributed free of charge to students. The governor said the importance of the distribution of the laptops could not be exaggerated, saying they would assist the students get introduced to the modern trends in information technology.

“The laptop initiative is not an end in itself,” the governor explained. “It’s a means to a better end in which our children would be competing in a world that they do not make, in a world in which the children that they are dealing with globally are also playing in that field or in a much more sophisticated field. And we started this before WAEC introduced ICT into the curriculum, which is now a compulsory subject. If you want to do some national exams now, you must do it online, via the computer. So, it’s like we anticipated this.”



May 20, 2011

eke possibly pregnant | Main | Nigeria vs Argentina – Argentina coming with A team »
15 year old Nigerian teenager gets admission to Harvard
DateThursday, May 12, 2011 at 9:07AM

A 15 year old Nigerian girl has been offered admission to the prestigious Harvard University in United States of America, She is Saheela Ibraheem, 15 year old daughter of a Nigerian immigrant family living in New Jersey, United States. The Harvard University new intake is the latest media sensation.

Since news broke about Saheela’s incredible acceptance to 13 of American’s prestigious Universities, local and International media have taken interests in the teen’s success story.

A source at Wardlaw-Hartridge high school, who fears that media interests in the young Nigerian-American is fast becoming overwhelming and could be a distraction during her upcoming exams said that about a dozen media organizations are schedule for possible interviews with Saheela. According to the source “She [Saheela] is amazing and because she is well spoken, media organizations wanted to have live interviews with her”.

In 2010, Saheela applied to 14 schools that includes some of America’s Ivy Leagues. All, but Yale, offered her admission. This includes, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Cornell, Brown, Williams College, Stanford, University of Chicago, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Washington University in St. Louis and Harvard, which she settled on after a convincing visit to the university’s campus. In an interview with Fox 5, New York, Saheela’s mother, Shakirat, attributes her daughter’s academic success to her interest in learning and knowing more. According to Shakirat,”When you teach her 1, 2, 3 she wants more,… When you teach her 1 through 5, she’d say how about this.”

Her dad, Sarafa, a graduate of Nigeria’s own ivy school, University of Ibadan, is a financial analyst and vice president at a major Financial group in New York

Besides her academic excellence, Saheela actively plays soccer, softball and the trombone. Nigerians have reacted to the good news. Bukky Adekanbi, a Nigerian residing in New York said.

“It is always joyful to hear that Nigerians are doing great things around the world regardless of how bad some international media tries to portray us. We Nigerians here in America are proud of Saheela and her parents,”

Saheela who plans to study neuroscience or neurobiology – scientific study of the nervous system. said “It all comes down to the support I’ve had at home, from my parents, even my brothers being there every step of the way.”


Related stories: Video – University in Canada high acceptance rate for Nigerians despite tough immigration

Chimamanda Adichie at 2009 TED Conference

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am proud to hear this when talking about nigeria in good things and i pray that after her school let united state allow her to come and apply what she learn to us nigeria her fatherland my daughter please try to work more harder than before
May 16, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjackson

Na smaaat girl be that! She dey make us proud!
May 16, 2011 CommenterLawal


March 14, 2011


Monday, March 14, 2011
Oseola McCarty

O1996 — Feature WritingOseola McCarty
All She Has- $150,000 -Is Going to a University
Rick Bragg
August 13, 1995
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HATTIESBURG, Miss., Aug. 10
Oseola McCarty spent a lifetime making other people look nice. Day after day, for most of her 87 years, she took in bundles of dirty clothes and made them clean and neat for parties she never attended, weddings to which she was never invited, graduations she never saw.
She had quit school in the sixth grade to go to work, never married, never had children and never learned to drive because there was never any place in particular she wanted to go. All she ever had was the work, which she saw as a blessing. Too many other black people in rural Mississippi did not have even that.
She spent almost nothing, living in her old family home, cutting the toes out of shoes if they did not fit right and binding her ragged Bible with Scotch tape to keep Corinthians from falling out. Over the decades, her pay — mostly dollar bills and change — grew to more than $150,000.
“More than I could ever use,” Miss McCarty said the other day without a trace of self-pity. So she is giving her money away, to finance scholarships for black students at the University of Southern Mississippi here in her hometown, where tuition is $2,400 a year.
“I wanted to share my wealth with the children,” said Miss McCarty, whose only real regret is that she never went back to school. “I never minded work, but I was always so busy, busy. Maybe I can make it so the children don’t have to work like I did.”
People in Hattiesburg call her donation the Gift. She made it, in part, in anticipation of her death.
As she sat in her warm, dark living room, she talked of that death matter-of-factly, the same way she talked about the possibility of an afternoon thundershower. To her, the Gift was a preparation, like closing the bedroom windows to keep the rain from blowing in on the bedspread.
“I know it won’t be too many years before I pass on,” she said, “and I just figured the money would do them a lot more good than it would me.”
Her donation has piqued interest around the nation. In a few short days, Oseola McCarty, the washerwoman, has risen from obscurity to a notice she does not understand. She sits in her little frame house, just blocks from the university, and patiently greets the reporters, business leaders and others who line up outside her door.
“I live where I want to live, and I live the way I want to live,” she said. “I couldn’t drive a car if I had one. I’m too old to go to college. So I planned to do this. I planned it myself.”
It has been only three decades since the university integrated. “My race used to not get to go to that college,” she said. “But now they can.”
When asked why she had picked this university instead of a predominantly black institution, she said, “Because it’s here; it’s close.”
While Miss McCarty does not want a building named for her or a statue in her honor, she would like one thing in return: to attend the graduation of a student who made it through college because of her gift. “I’d like to see it,” she said.
Business leaders in Hattiesburg, 110 miles northeast of New Orleans, plan to match her $150,000, said Bill Pace, the executive director of the University of Southern Mississippi Foundation, which administers donations to the school.
“I’ve been in the business 24 years now, in private fund raising,” Mr. Pace said. “And this is the first time I’ve experienced anything like this from an individual who simply was not affluent, did not have the resources and yet gave substantially. In fact, she gave almost everything she has.
“No one approached her from the university; she approached us. She’s seen the poverty, the young people who have struggled, who need an education. She is the most unselfish individual I have ever met.”
Although some details are still being worked out, the $300,000 — Miss McCarty’s money and the matching sum — will finance scholarships into the indefinite future. The only stipulation is that the beneficiaries be black and live in southern Mississippi.
The college has already awarded a $1,000 scholarship in Miss McCarty’s name to an 18-year-old honors student from Hattiesburg, Stephanie Bullock.
Miss Bullock’s grandmother, Ledrester Hayes, sat in Miss McCarty’s tiny living room the other day and thanked her. Later, when Miss McCarty left the room, Mrs. Hayes shook her head in wonder.
“I thought she would be some little old rich lady with a fine car and a fine house and clothes,” she said. “I was a seamstress myself, worked two jobs. I know what it’s like to work like she did, and she gave it away.”
The Oseola McCarty Scholarship Fund bears the name of a woman who bought her first air-conditioner just three years ago and even now turns it on only when company comes. Miss McCarty also does not mind that her tiny black-and-white television set gets only one channel, because she never watches anyway. She complains that her electricity bill is too high and says she never subscribed to a newspaper because it cost too much.
The pace of Miss McCarty’s walks about the neighborhood is slowed now, and she misses more Sundays than she would like at Friendship Baptist Church. Arthritis has left her hands stiff and numb. For the first time in almost 80 years, her independence is threatened.
“Since I was a child, I’ve been working,” washing the clothes of doctors, lawyers, teachers, police officers, she said. “But I can’t do it no more. I can’t work like I used to.”
She is 5 feet tall and would weigh 100 pounds with rocks in her pockets. Her voice is so soft that it disappears in the squeak of the screen door and the hum of the air-conditioner.
She comes from a wide place in the road called Shubuta, Miss., a farming town outside Meridian, not far from the Alabama line. She quit school, she said, when the grandmother who reared her became ill and needed care.
“I would have gone back,” she said, “but the people in my class had done gone on, and I was too big. I wanted to be with my class.”
So she worked, and almost every dollar went into the bank. In time, all her immediate family died. “And I didn’t have nobody,” she said. “But I stayed busy.”
She took a short vacation once, as a young woman, to Niagara Falls. The roar of the water scared her. “Seemed like the world was coming to an end,” she said.
She stayed home, mostly, after that. She has lived alone since 1967.
Earlier this year her banker asked what she wanted done with her money when she passed on. She told him that she wanted to give it to the university, now rather than later; she set aside just enough to live on.
She says she does not want to depend on anyone after all these years, but she may have little choice. She has been informally adopted by the first young person whose life was changed by her gift.
As a young woman, Stephanie Bullock’s mother wanted to go to the University of Southern Mississippi. But that was during the height of the integration battles, and if she had tried her father might have lost his job with the city.
It looked as if Stephanie’s own dream of going to the university would also be snuffed out, for lack of money. Although she was president of her senior class in high school and had grades that were among the best there, she fell just short of getting an academic scholarship. Miss Bullock said her family earned too much money to qualify for most Federal grants but not enough to send her to the university.
Then, last week, she learned that the university was giving her $1,000, in Miss McCarty’s name. “It was a total miracle,” she said, “and an honor.”
She visited Miss McCarty to thank her personally and told her that she planned to “adopt” her. Now she visits regularly, offering to drive Miss McCarty around and filling a space in the tiny woman’s home that has been empty for decades. She feels a little pressure, she concedes, not to fail the woman who helped her. “I was thinking how amazing it was that she made all that money doing laundry,” said Miss Bullock, who plans to major in business.
She counts on Miss McCarty’s being there four years from now, when she graduates.
© 1995, The New York Times


Oseola McCarty

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Birth: Mar. 7, 1908
Wayne County
Mississippi, USA
Death: Sep. 26, 1999
Forrest County
Mississippi, USA

Philanthropist. Became well known near the end of her life for her gift of $150,000 (her life savings) to the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg in July of 1995 which sparked national as well as worldwide attention. She may not even knew exactly what the word philanthropy meant, but the elderly washerwoman gave away practically every dollar she ever made to endow a scholarship fund for poor students in Mississippi that made her a symbol of selfless giving. The Southern native was raised by her mother, Lucy, who moved to Hattiesburg when she was very young. Her father had died in 1926. At the age of 11 she had to drop out of the sixth grade to help her mother care for her ailing aunt. She was never able to return to school and took a job as a washer for families that would hire her, to help her family financially. Living frugally, she would go on and work for 75 years as a laundress beside her grandmother, who died in 1944; her mother, who died in 1964; and her aunt, who died in 1967. All leaving her money, which she added to her savings. In 1947, her uncle left her the modest, wooden-frame house in which she would live the rest of her life in. Alone in 1967, she continued to take in laundry until 1994, when in her eighties arthritis forced her to retire. All through her life she had taken pride in her work, had faith in God, and saved her money. Over her years of living she regretted that she never got her full education and that she never became a nurse. But one thing that she had achieved after was financial comfort. There was nothing in particular she wanted to buy and no place in particular she wanted to go. An only child who outlived her relatives, she lived a solitary existence, surrounded by rows of clothes she made pretty for people who knew her only as the washerwoman. Upon retiring and after some deliberation, she informed friends at her bank of the desire to give some of her money to her church, some to her family, and $ 150,000 to students at the University of Southern Mississippi so that they could receive something she never fully had, an education. “I’m giving it away so that children won’t have to work so hard, like I did,” she said in July 1995. Her gift established the Oseola McCarty Scholarship, with priority consideration given to those deserving African-American students enrolling at the University of Southern Mississippi who clearly demonstrate a financial need. The selflessness of this 87 year old woman’s gift sparked national as well as worldwide attention. The gift and dizzying media blitz that followed created a domino effect on the hearts and pocketbooks of people nationwide, and a group of local business people launched a private fund-raising campaign to match the donation. Contributions from more than 600 donors added some $330,000 to the original scholarship fund. After hearing of Miss McCarty’s gift, Multibillionare Ted Turner gave away a billion dollars. She would receive numerous honors for her generous gift of kindness. She did not want any monuments or any proclamations for her selfless act, said people who that knew her. Her more than 300 honors included honors by the United Nations, President Bill Clinton and the Congressional Black Caucus, the NAACP, the Presidential Citizen’s Medal (the nation’s second highest civilian award) and honorary doctorates from Harvard University and the University of Southern Mississippi. She also received the Community Heroes Award from the National Urban League, the Premier Black Woman of Courage Award from the National Federation of Black Women Business Owners, and the Achiever Award from the Aetna Foundation. In 1996, she had the honor to carry the Olympic torch through part of Mississippi and that same year, hers was the hand on the switch that dropped the ball in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. A collection of her views on life, work, faith, sayings, and relationships were published in her book, Simple Wisdom for Rich Living in 1996. She was later told in 1999 that she had liver cancer, about a year after she underwent surgery for colon cancer. She spent her last days as she wanted in the little house in Hattiesburg where she spent most of her life.
Highland Cemetery
Forrest County
Mississippi, USA

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Record added: Mar 08, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial# 13561102

Oseola McCarty
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An Extraordinary Special Person, Extremely Frugal Making Great Personal Sacrifices

Oseola McCarty
A Symbol of Selfless Giving
During July 1995, an African-American cleaning woman from Mississippi Oseola McCarty (1908-1999), who from working all her life accumulated great savings, donated to the University of Southern Mississippi $150,000 for a student scholarship program. "I want to help somebody's child go to college," Miss McCarty said.
Bill Pace, executive director of the USM Foundation, which will administer McCarty's gift, said, "This is by far the largest gift ever given to USM by an African American. We are overwhelmed and humbled by what she has done."
An Extraordinary Woman of Sacrifice and Frugality
Oseola McCarty's lined, brown hands, now gnarled with arthritis, bear mute testimony to a lifetime spent washing and ironing other people's clothes.
There was nothing in particular she wanted to buy and no place in particular she wanted to go. An only child who had outlived her relatives, she lived a solitary existence, surrounded by rows of clothes she made pretty for people who knew her only as the washerwoman.
"I'm giving it away so that the children won't have to work so hard, like I did," she said in July 1995.
Born in Wayne County, Miss., on March 7, 1908, she was raised by her mother, Lucy, who moved to Hattiesburg when Oseola was very young. Her mother, she recalls, worked hard to support her young daughter.
"She cooked for Mr. J.S. Garraway, who was Forrest County Circuit Clerk, and … she would go to the schoolhouse and sell candy to make money. She would leave me alone. I was scared, but she didn't have no choice. I said then that when I could, I would save money so I could take care of my grandmother."
Young Oseola went to school at Eureka Elementary School. Even as a young child, she worked, though, and her savings habit started early.
"I would go to school and come home and iron. I'd put money away and save it. When I got enough, I went to First Mississippi National Bank and put it in. The teller told me it would be best to put it in a savings account. I didn't know. I just kept on saving."
When Oseola was in the sixth grade, her childless aunt had to go to the hospital, and, McCarty said, "I had to go and wait on her. When she came out of the hospital, she couldn't walk, and she needed me."
McCarty never returned to school. "All my classmates had gone off and left me," she said, "so I didn't go back. I just washed and ironed."
McCarty washed and ironed and lived frugally. She has never had a car and still walks everywhere she goes. She shows a visitor the shopping cart she pushes to Big Star, more than a mile away, to get groceries. For the visitor's benefit, she turns on the window air conditioner bank personnel only recently persuaded her to get.
Her grandmother died in 1944, her mother died in 1964, her aunt died in 1967, leaving her alone. Her mother and aunt each left her some money, which she added to her savings. In 1947, her uncle left her the modest, wood-frame house in which she still lives.
McCarty, who never married, said, "After my aunt died, I began to think, I didn't have nobody. I began to think about what to do with what little I had. I wanted to leave some to some cousins and my church. But I had been thinking for a long time … since I was in school … I didn't know how to fix it, but I wanted to give it to the college (USM). They used to not let colored people go out there, but now they do, and I think they should have it."
Miss McCarty's gift has astounded even those who believe they know her well. The customers who have brought their washing and ironing to her modest frame home for more than 75 years read like the social register of Hattiesburg. She has done laundry for three generations of some families. In the beginning, she said, she charged $1.50 to $2 a bundle, but, with inflation, the price rose.
"I just want it to go to someone who will appreciate it and learn. I'm old and I'm not going to live always." McCarty's gift establishes an endowed Oseola McCarty Scholarship, with "priority consideration given to those deserving African-American students enrolling at the University of Southern Mississippi who clearly demonstrate a financial need."
How It Really Happened
"When I started making $10 a bundle — I don't remember when … sometime after the war — I commenced to save money," she recalled. "I put it in savings. I never would take any of it out. I just put it in. It just accumulated."
Over the years, she put money into several local banks. While banks merged and changed names and management, McCarty's savings grew. Her grandmother died in 1944, her mother died in 1964, her aunt died in 1967, "and I've been havin' it by myself since then," she said. Her mother and her aunt each left her some money, which she added to her savings.
In 1947 her uncle gave her the house in which she still lives. Bank personnel, realizing that McCarty was accumulating sizeable savings, advised her to put her money into CD's, conservative mutual funds and other accounts where it would work for her.
Nancy Odom and Ellen Vinzant of Trustmark Bank have worked with McCarty for several years, not only helping her manage her money but helping look after her personally. It was they who helped her get the air conditioner. They also were concerned about what the future held for her.
"We both talked with her about her funds and what would happen to her if something happened," said Odom. "She knew she needed someone to take care of her."
Odom and Vinzant referred Miss McCarty to Paul Laughlin, Trustmark's assistant vice president and trust officer. "In one of our earliest meetings, I talked about what we could do for her," Laughlin said. "We talked about providing for her if she's not able. Then we turned naturally to what happens to her estate after she dies.
"She said she wanted to leave the bulk of her money to USM, and she didn't want (anybody) to come in and change her mind. I called Jimmy Frank McKenzie, her attorney — she's done laundry for him for years — and he talked to her. He made sure it was her idea.
Then I met with her to let her decide how to divide her money up." McCarty said, "Mr. Paul laid out dimes on the table to explain how to divide it up."
Paul Laughlin said, "I got 10 dimes (to represent percentages). I wrote on pieces of paper the parties she wanted to leave her money to and put them on the table. Then I asked how she wanted her money to be split up. She put one dime on her church and one each for several relatives. Then she said she wanted the rest — six dimes — to go to the college. She was quite definite about wanting to give 60 percent to USM. To my knowledge, she has never been out there, but she seems to have the best of the students in mind. The decision was entirely hers."
"I just want the scholarship to go to some child who needs it, to whoever is not able to help their children," Miss McCarty said. "I'm too old to get an education, but they can."
McCarty signed an irrevocable trust agreement stating her wishes for her estate and giving the bank the responsibility for managing her funds.
"Mr. Paul [Laughlin ] gives me a check, and I can go get money anytime I need it. My lawyer gave them permission to take care of me if something happens to me."
Paul Laughlin said the bank normally keeps such transactions in strictest confidence, but because of the uniqueness of McCarty's story, he asked for her permission to make it public.
"Well, I guess that would be all right," she said with her typical calm acceptance."She seems wonderfully at peace with where she is and who she is," Paul Laughlin said.
McCarty's arthritis in her hands forced her to retire from washing and ironing in December 1994, at the age of 86. Now she spends her days cleaning house, and she still walks everywhere she goes. But she said, "If I ever get able to, I want to go back to work."
The Excitement Expands
Oceola McCarty did not want any monuments, any proclamations, said people that knew her. But the selflessness of 87-year-old woman's $150,000 gift to the University of Southern Mississippi from her life's savings sparked national as well as worldwide attention.
The woman who had gone out only for some preaching at the Friendship Baptist Church in Hattiesburg and to buy groceries would be honored by the United Nations, would receive more than 300 awards. People all over the world knew who she was and what she did.
On a trip to Washington, McCarty was honored by President Bill Clinton and the Congressional Black Caucus. Miss McCarty, who declined an invitation to go by plane, was accompanied by Mary McCarty, a 50-year-old cousin from Shubuta and a high school social studies teacher in Waynesboro.
"I'm just tickled to death," McCarty said while waiting at the Hattiesburg train station, noting it was her first trip out of the South since a visit to Niagara Falls more than 50 years ago. McCarty will sat with President Clinton at a 7 p.m. Saturday dinner of the Congressional Black Caucus at the Washington Convention Center. New Jersey lawyer and businessman Lewis Katz helped organize the trip.
The following Monday, Miss McCarty received a presidential citation from Clinton at the White House.
Although McCarty has resided less than three miles away from the Hattiesburg university for most of her life, she visited the campus for the first time Aug. 29. She received a 30-second standing ovation from about 1,000 faculty and staff when she was introduced by USM President Aubrey K. Lucas. Lucas also presented McCarty with a framed letter from President Clinton, lauding her generosity.
"Hillary and I were moved by your gift to the University of Southern Mississippi. Your unselfish deed is a remarkable example of the spirit and ingenuity that made America great," the letter read in part.
Earlier in the day, she had met in Jackson, Miss., with Pat Fordice, the wife of Mississippi Gov. Kirk Fordice. Two days later, McCarty was introduced to more than 30,000 cheering fans at the university's season-opening football game. On Sept. 10, the Hattiesburg community celebrated "Oseola McCarty Day."
The gift and dizzying media blitz that followed created a domino effect on the hearts and pocketbooks of people nationwide, and a group of local business people launched a private fund-raising campaign to match the donation. Contributions began pouring in from scattered locations across the nation to the USM Foundation.
Contributions from more than 600 donors added some $330,000 to the original scholarship fund of $150,000. After hearing of Miss McCarty's gift, Ted Turner, a multibillionaire, gave away a billion dollars.
Along with all the plaques and trophies or other honors — she received the Presidential Citizen's Medal, the nation's second highest civilian award, and an honorary doctorate from Harvard University — she was awarded other things that were pure fun.
In 1996, she carried the Olympic torch through part of Mississippi. Later that year, hers was the hand on the switch that dropped the ball in Times Square in New York's wild New Year's Eve celebration. In fact, she said at the time, it was the first time she had actually stayed up past midnight.
Stephanie Bullock, an 18-year-old Hattiesburg High School honor graduate, was designated as the first scholarship recipient, getting $1,000 to help launch her college studies at USM this fall. When she met McCarty for the first time, she threw her arms around the woman's neck and whispered, "Thank you so much." The endowed Oseola McCarty Scholarship, with "priority consideration given to those deserving African-American students enrolling at the University of Southern Mississippi who clearly demonstrate a financial need."
Miss McCarty took others' excitement over her gift with the same quiet grace that she had taken all the bad and good that have come into her life.
"I can't do everything," she said, "but I can do something to help somebody. And what I can do I will do. I wish I could do more."
The woman who acted in anticipation of death found a life she could have never imagined. She flew on a plane for the first time in her life and laughed out loud when the food did not fall off the tray as the plane rumbled through the sky. She stayed in a hotel for the first time in her life, and before she checked out, she made the bed.
"People treated her like a monument," said Jewel Tucker, the secretary to the president of the university and Miss McCarty's traveling companion in those almost giddy years after the gift. "But she was really a movement. It will keep moving."
Time Draws Nigh
Miss McCarty was told that she had liver cancer, about a year after she underwent surgery for colon cancer. She wanted her last days to be spent in the little house where she spent most of her life. She was 91.
"I don't want to close my eyes because I don't know if I'll open them again," the tiny, frail woman told a visitor recently. "But I am not afraid."
Miss Oseola McCarty — the humble washerwoman who became The University of Southern Mississippi's most famous benefactor — passed away Sept. 26, 1999, after a bout with cancer. In a world in which people are suspicious of things too good to be true, Miss McCarty really was good and true.
"There's a lot of talk about self-esteem these days," she once said. "It seems pretty basic to me. If you want to feel proud of yourself, you've got to do things you can be proud of. Feelings follow actions."
There are those who would draw the wrong lessons from the life of Oceola McCarty. She was indeed an extraordinary and special person, one who was extremely frugal and made great personal sacrifices. Some would say wrongly: Poverty is about individual failure. It is about family dysfunction, character disorder and self-destructive behavior. Of course, this is a class attitude. Those who would take such a position are apologists for the structural wrongs that exist in our society. They are the sycophants and opportunists for the powerful and the mean in spirit.
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updated 10 June 2008

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Oseola McCarty: The lesson of simplicity
Filed under Inspired , Simplicity , by sudara || සුදාර… on Saturday, December 25, 2010

She is one of the most amazing women in the world who is inspired by millions of people around the world for her donation of $150,000 for the scholarship of the University of Southern Mississippi. While this may not have been the largest single donation the school ever received,what was unique was that she had saved the money over the course of her life time from her modest earnings washing other people's clothes.

Oseola McCarty was born, reared and started her education in Mississippi. When she was in the sixth grade, McCarty left school to care for her ailing aunt and never returned to school. For more than 75 years, she earned her living as a laundress. She did laundry for three generations of some Hattiesburg, Miss., families.
McCarty never owned a car; she walked everywhere she went, pushing a shopping cart nearly a mile to get groceries. She rode with friends to attend services at the Friendship Baptist Church. She did not subscribe to any newspaper, considering the expense an extravagance. Similarly, although she owned a black and white television, she only received transmissions via the airways. In 1947, her uncle gave her the house in which she lived until her death. She also received some money from her aunt and mother when they died, which she also placed into savings.

"I want to help somebody's child go to college," she said after announcing the donation. Her gift endowed the Oseola McCarty Scholarship. "I'm too old to get an education, but they can." When asked about her ability to save so much money she says simply, "I didn't buy things I didn't need, The Lord helped me, and he'll help you, too. It's an honor to be blessed like that."

In 1998, she was awarded an honorary degree from USM, the first such degree awarded by the university. She received scores of awards and other honors recognizing her unselfish spirit, and President Bill Clinton presented her with a Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second highest civilian award, during a special White House Ceremony. She also won the United Nations' coveted Avicenna Medal for educational commitment. In June 1996, Harvard University awarded McCarty an honorary doctorate alongside Maya Lin, Walter Annenberg, and Judith Jameson.

She passed away Sept. 26, 1999 from a cancer leaving a golden lesson of simplicity for all of us. A collection of McCarty's views on life, work, faith, saving, and relationships can be found in her book, Simple Wisdom for Rich Living, published by Longstreet Press in 1996.
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