Mrs Clara Welola Atandeyi is a retired Chief Health Officer in the Nursing section of the State Specialist Hospital, Akure. In this interview with SADE AFE, she shared her experience in Nursing, how she became a nurse and her role as a mother.
Can we meet you?
I am Mrs Clara Welola Atandeyi nee Jacob Fatoogun.
I am a native of Akure, Oke-Arata Street in Akure.
Can you tell us about your background?
My background is an interesting thing. I am from a poor home, I was born on April 22, 1948, and I started my Primary Education in January 1954 at St. Stephen’s Primary School, Ijomu in Akure here. I finished my Primary Education in December, 1960, I gained admission to Fiwasaye Girls’ Grammar School, Akure in 1961 and left in 1964. My intention earlier was to study Medicine and become a doctor, but there was no money to complete my education. I had two of my friends who are like me but were not as poor as I was. A lady from Ilesha told me about the School of Nursing Wesley Guild Hospital, Ilesha, she was the one who paid the five shillings for the form.
Five shillings in 1964! thank you O Lord for her life. So when I told my Principal about it, she said I should go and try, after the examination, I passed, and was told to come for the interview and to bring my certificate. My principal said she could not give me instead, she gave me a letter to the principal of the School of Nursing that if I did not pass she was ready to take me back into the school that I was one of her best students.
I went for the interview, that same day, with the Matron, Miss Gem Bridge, she now asked me after the interview that, is it true that I wanted to do Nursing or I am just playing with it, and I answered her that, I wanted to do medicine, but there is no money to complete my secondary education, so if I am taken, I will joyfully come.
So she gave me another letter that day, you know I came with a letter, she regarded the letter, it was that day I got my result, I came first of the 33 that sat for the interview. So Miss Pelly said, you still want to go? Come back and complete your secondary education. She said that she would allow my parents to be paying monthly.
I told her that I cannot deceive myself, if they cannot get the money now, how will they get it monthly? So I said she should allow me to go, that if it was my way, God would see me through. She thought I was joking, so, when they resumed in January 1965, I did not resume with them. It was after then, she gave me my L75 Certificate to take to Wesley Guild Hospital, Ilesha. So it was through Miss Pelly, the grace of God and my friends that saw me through. That my friend gave me the five shillings, I did not pay back.
So when I was at Fiwasaye, my provisions was gaari, nothing more, so I resumed at Wesley Guild Hospital by March 5, 1965 to start training as a nurse.
The training was an interesting one, I thank God for everything. After three months, we did an examination and I came first. After that when it was six months, we did another examination and I came first again. All along I always came first. The first time I came second I wept very well, why? The person that came first beat me with half a mark.
Where did you serve?
In the hospital there, Wesley Guild Hospital.
Where did you meet your husband and how?
It was in Ilesha I met my husband in 1968, we had not completed our course, then his friend who was teaching at Ijesha High School along with him, had a sister in our school. So he came with that friend. When the sister came to see them at meeting room, he asked if there was any Akure girl here. That girl said there was one, so she called me.
That girl was my classmate, we went to greet her brother, that was how she introduced me as an Akure girl to him, I greeted him and I went away, she was staying there. Then Dr Bisi Oke, daughter of Mama Adetinu was at Wesley Guild too. Mama Adetinu is a cousin to my mum. I went to visit her. So when he came, that is, Mr Atandeyi, he asked of me. I went to Dr Oke’s house to hide, not knowing that they were classmates at Ife. So he came to the house, so when he saw me, he told Dr Oke that he had been looking for me that was how we started. By God’s grace, the thing went smoothly, then, he said he would like to know my house; I gave him my house address as No 35, Oke Arata Street, Akure.
I was determined not to marry any man outside Akure and when he got to my house, my father and my mother accepted him. On August 24th 1969 we got married at Oyemekun Chapel. They had not started the church at Oyemekun then. We thank God. Since then, we have six children, three boys and three girls, to God be the glory. My firstborn is the former Chairman of Engineers, in Ondo State, Engineer Babajide Atandeyi, who also does the Wednesday’s preaching on Adaba. The second one, third, fourth and sixth are in the USA. The fifth child is at Fidelity Bank, she is also a graduate. They are all brilliant and blessed with beautiful and handsome children.
I told God, that I wanted to do Medicine but there was no money, so all my children must graduate. To God be the glory they are, my third child, has fellow at the American College of Medicine, then the sister is a Ph.D Pharmacy, the third one is an Accountant, the baby is an Electrical Engineer so God is marvelous, I appreciate him for everything.
Was there any challenge in your marriage?
I will say there was no challenge. First, the two families agreed if my husband family hear that I am around they will make sure they come to greet me.
They love me in their family. In my marriage, we are not rich and we are not poor, we pay our children school fees as at when due. We do not bite more than what we can chew, so there were no challenges. I am working, my husband was also working. It has been the grace of God. I have never had any dispute to take to our parents to settle. Nothing of such.
After school in 1968, where did you work?
I served at Wesley Guild Hospital. After marriage in 1969, I followed my husband to Ibadan. There I worked at Oluyoro Maternity Hospital, Ibadan, Western State, now Oyo State. After that when they created Ondo State, I came down to Akure and I worked at the State Hospital, Akure. Before then, I did my Midwifery in Ibadan at Adeoyo, 1972-73 and I got distinction in my final examination in Midwifery. Then I moved to Adeoyo the State General Hospital. When they created Ondo State, I came back to Ondo State with my husband. My husband even came before I did because he was the PRO for the then Governor, Baba Adekunle Ajasin. They came in March 1976, so I joined him three months after he left Ibadan. By then, we had already built our own house.
Are you saying to get job then was not as difficult as now?
Yes, so far you are brilliant. After the creation of the state, I was posted here as the Deputy (PHC) Coordinator i.e. Public Health Care, so as the person in-charge, you must show good leadership, so anybody who is very hardworking I love them, and those who is not hardworking I will be strict with them, because I will do my work to my satisfaction.
What is you memorable day?
The day I got married, the evening was an interesting one, because it was the evening I was dis-virgined. So my husband was happy that I was a virgin. So ladies keep your virginity, it is still relevant.
What is your advice to women?
A home cannot but have challenges, but a virtuous woman should keep her home. If you have any challenge, go on your knees and pray. A praying mother is very essential in any family, if anything comes up, go on your knees and if you are sincere and honest, God will do everything you request. So the woman owns the home, and what we call a woman is tolerant. You cannot but have challenges. I remember one of my sisters-in-law, when she got to my house, she said is this woman going to have all this house, I heard but I did not say anything, this person did not know how we built the house, I know how many days we went without food but I ensured that my children and my husband eat. There were days I ate without meat or fish.
What is your philosophy about life?
God first, whatever you want to be in life put God first.
What is your best food?
Pounded yam and pumpkin leaf soup
What is your best colour?
I will say royal blue.