The moving story of Terhemen Anongo, a former medical student who became a porter after depression forced him out of the University of Ibadan, Oyo State, at 500 level, has attracted reactions from different quarters.
While many showed empathy for the 43-year-old man, some blamed his father for forcing the course on him. Others however chided him for failing to rise above the hurdles to complete his study.
Scores of people, who read Anongo’s pathetic experience published in an interview by Saturday PUNCH, sought medical and financial help for the 43-year-old, urging individuals, government and civil society organisations to urgently come to his aid.
As of 6pm on Saturday, the report had received 933 comments, over 1,900 likes and 338 shares on Facebook; 73 comments and 736 likes on Instagram; 59 retweets and 45 comments on Twitter. On PUNCH’s website, it attracted 36 comments.
Anongo had narrated his long, gruelling battle with depression, culminating in his dropout from the university a year to his graduation.
From his father’s refusal to allow him study his choice course (Petroleum Engineering) to the demanding nature of memorising medical jargons, Anongo, who now earns a living via pushing a wheelbarrow, gave a compelling account of how depression crept into his life after he gained admission to the UI during the 1996/97 session and consequently overwhelmed him.
He said, “First of all, it was never my desire to study Medicine. I graduated from secondary school and had the best results. I loved Physics and Mathematics, so I wanted to study Engineering, Petroleum Engineering to be precise. I got the University Matriculation Examination (now Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination) form and filled it and took it to my dad who was a Mathematics teacher but my dad said no; he said he had some Indian teachers who told him that the best course for me to study was Medicine.
“But when I got to medical school, I realised that Medicine is about cramming, memorising terminologies whose origin you don’t know. I lost interest in academic work but I still managed to pass and got to the teaching hospital. I dropped out when I was in 500 Level because I was suffering from severe depression, which made me lose interest in medical school. Though at a point I tried to go back, the authorities did not allow me.”
Anongo recalled how the alleged hostile learning environment contributed to his dropout and attempted suicide. As his condition worsened, he removed one of his testicles in a desperate bid to castrate himself and reduce his sexual urge.
“Even now that I have removed one testicle, the temptation still goes on (laughs). Now that I have removed one testicle, the sexual urge has escalated (laughs),” he added.
The story has drawn a lot of comments from Nigerians with many seeking a new lease of life for the poor porter.