When someone in a competition or a game show answers a question correctly, that person is given a befitting round of applause. Even if the audience does not take the initiative to credit that person with the enthusiastic clapping that is tagged, “a round of applause,” the moderator of the show or competition will usually say, “Let’s give her or him a round of applause.” The applause is for a job well done.
There is a higher level of applause though, this one is called a standing ovation and members of the audience usually stand up from their seats to celebrate and acknowledge the person who has excelled. Sometimes, this ovation is accompanied by shouts of joys and even a song. Usually the song with the lyrics, “Stand up for the champion,” rules the airwaves.
This standing ovation is usually reserved for someone who has achieved a remarkable feat. Like the person who is the focus of this piece. This person is remarkable in many ways, chiefly because of her age. Child geniuses are usually celebrated with pomp, pageantry, and pride.
Nigerians and indeed many other citizens of the world are celebrating Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, for her landmark achievement as the first female and first African Director-General of the World Trade Organisation. No doubt a lot of women will rightfully view her achievement as a certain victory, paving the way for many to excel in every area of their life relatively.
There is an underlying truth in all the celebrations in the fact that Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, now a woman in her sixties, was once a young girl. She also took baby steps before she arrived at where she is today. Her success certainly amplifies the ever loud call for the education of the African girl-child.
It is time to give people like the young brilliant Faith Odunsi the enabling environment, to be the best they could ever be.
Faith Odunsi the focus of this piece, has rekindled in us the brilliance that is education. She is a fifteen-year-old student of Ambassadors School in Ota, Ogun State in Western Nigeria, who recently won the Global Open Mathematics Tournament, against participants from across the world.
Not only did Faith win the competition, but she did so remarkably with a score of 40 points, which is basically 30 points clear of the runner’s ups at 10 points.
Now, that is an accomplishment that deserves a standing ovation in any mathematical book.
According to Bellanaija, a Nigerian blog, Faith first won the hearts of many in 2018, when she set a record in the Cowbellpedia Mathematics Competition by answering 19 questions in 60 seconds. Faith has been a serial winner of competitions since she was in junior secondary school. so it is really not a surprise to see her flourish in such a major event
Faith Odunsi took part in the South African Mathematics Olympiad where she received medals, Kangouru Sans Frontieres, American Mathematics Competition and Pan-African Mathematics Olympiad, where she received silver medals.
The Punch Magazine interviewed the young Faith who stated that she got her mathematical skills from her dad who is a medical doctor. She also revealed that her parents are always supportive of her during her competitions, offering advice and reading tips.
“Yes. I have been taking part in the national Olympiad since I was in JSS2. I have also taken part in Kangourou Sans Frontieres, South African mathematics Olympiad, American Mathematics Competition, and Pan-African mathematics Olympiad. For the national Olympiad, I was made the Queen of Mathematics from JSS3 to SS2. For the South African Mathematics Olympiad, I got medals. I got a silver medal in the Pan-African mathematics Olympiad in 2019. I was also made an ambassador of my school.” She said.
- The mathematics genius adding things up -
Faith’s achievement showcases what happens when the African girl-child is encouraged to flourish. Nigeria may very well be grooming others in the footsteps of Okonjo-Iweala and inevitably this will be apparent in due course. Faith is evidently taking baby steps towards great heights and we; her enthusiastic audience and well-wishers should keep giving her the required standing ovations throughout her accomplishments right to the top, as she sets her eyes on studying Computer Engineering.
Nigerian at home and abroad can only imagine, recognise, and appreciate the time and effort she must have put into this, the practicing, and extra tutoring engagements she must have had. It is quite refreshing acknowledging the young genius who has made so many people smile and a nation proud by her overarching achievements. We know for certain that there is more to come from Faith, and we are watching with inspiration.
Considering there was a time in many African societies when the girl child was not allowed to go to school. Buchi Emecheta, a Nigerian novelist, wrote a lot about this era in many of her novels detailing the struggles and hardship of those times. Some people of that period felt it was a waste of time to educate a girl child whose place they had decided was not in the corporate world or in education even.
Today, the story has changed. Many societies including ours now see a need and appreciate the value in educating the African girl child. In many organisations, females are given an equal pedestal with the males, to get to the peak of their careers, and contribute their own quotas. Positions like presidents of nations, chairmen of financial institutions, heads of corporate organisations, that were hitherto reserved for men, are now being occupied by women.
The African girl child has taken and stamped her place in our society. The belief is that it is time to encourage the miniature Ngozi Okonjo-Iwealas that dot our societies today. It is time for us to do more to encourage the African girl child and women out of assumption, and obscurity while consciously enabling pathways for their academic victories with pride..
Congratulation once again to Faith Odunsi our mathematics champion.
A standing ovation to you.