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Meet the six-year-old Nigerian who juggles school with mechanic work

by warritatafo
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Meet the six-year-old Nigerian who juggles school with mechanic work

At the age of six, Benjamin Ekechukwu should be having fun with his peers at home after school or roaming the streets like many of his contemporaries would do.

But the precocious kid has a bigger dream that transcends his age.

Benjamin wants to become an auto mechanic and is currently learning at a workshop in his area in Benin, Edo state, to hone his passion.

With his determination, the little boy has continued to pull the strings and won the hearts of those who earlier doubted his ability due to his age.

“I am learning how to grind valve on top of a cylinder. This is called valve (points), this pushing cup, here you have pin, cap, spring and crankshaft while this is the top cylinder,” he told BBC Pidgin.

Benjamin’s first major challenge was convincing Chidinma Ekechukwu, his mother, that he is up to the task.

Chidinma said she had initially opposed his decision to learn the work because of what people would say.

She added that she soon realised that her son won’t throw in the towel despite flogging him.

“When he told me that he wants to learn work, I felt bad because of what people would say. I knew people would definitely talk and that’s why I tried to stop him. I even used to beat him to stop the work but he still won’t give in,” she said.

“Whenever I leave the house for the market, he would have gone to his place of work before I come back. He has been learning the work for about eight months now.”

Benjamin’s impressive stint so far has, however, convinced his mum and she is currently one of those backing the young boy’s ambition.

“What he (Benjamin) is currently doing is not different from what other children go to school to study. I don’t see anything wrong with it because it’s is really good. There’s nothing like having a skill of your own,” she added.

“Some people will think that he does not go to school but that’s not true. He is currently in primary two and what he is learning does not affect his academic in any way. He goes to school regularly. I wish he would stop the work but if I do that, he would start crying at home.

“My plan is that when he completes his secondary education, I will enroll him in a technical school so that he can read more about the work and continue after graduation.”

Like Benjamin’s mum, Emmanuel Tochukwu, owner of the mechanic workshop, earlier doubted the boy’s ability to grapple with the energy and resilience required for the work.

But he was also stunned by the kid’s dedication to learning and overall productivity.

“Benjamin beats my expectation in a great way because when he approached me at first that he wants to learn work, I assumed that it would be difficult to teach him considering his age,” he said.

“In fact, at the initial stage, I told him that I can’t teach him because he is too small to learn the work. But when I saw the zeal in him, I decided to give him a chance. At the outset, I normally give him minor works to do but I noticed that he does whatever task given to him perfectly.

“He also learns faster than those older than him. There are lots of things he can do currently as far this work is concerned. The only thing he cannot do now is to handle some of the sophisticated machines we use here because of his age.

“I also entrust him with some valuable items at work because he is very composed and knows how to keep things safe. However, considering his age, there things that I don’t allow him to do to avoid tampering with his growth.”

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