By on November 9, 2014

I promised in the last post to write about a new word I just learnt.

Here it is: Infovore

It means:

1. a person who indulges in and desires information gathering and interpretation;

2. a person that has a voracious appetite for information.

Interesting, isn’t it?

A quick glance at it clearly reveals the etymology – Information and Carnivore (or Herbivore). Without thinking about it, I knew the word described me a great deal.

Are you wondering if the word really exists, are you one or does it in anyway describe you?

Check here, here and this book.

Before you ask how certain I am about my infovorous nature, I will share…

My journey to becoming an infovore started as childhood inquisitiveness. I read everything in print, literarily every thing printed around me – Magazines, Journals, Newspapers, Books, Course Notes, Physician’s Desk Reference, ‘Where There is No Doctor’ (remember that book), Encyclopaedia and even papers in trash bins.

From there, it became worrisome – especially for my parents – because I moved into personal letters, notes, bank statements, teacher’s notes, exam papers, memos on school walls (even though I knew very little about what they meant most of the time), love letters (#lastborntinz) and everything else I could find in print. My parents scolded, punished and beat me countless times for this before I could draw the boundaries.

I became fascinated, scratch that, obsessed with knowing – everything and anything that there was to know. I felt bad whenever I did not know (still do sometimes :)). I would go to bed with a heavy heart if I missed a simple question in class or did not score 100% in a test. That is where I should have sought help to alter my life’s direction…

Before you judge me, by the time it became a habit, I was already used to being the best in my class. From Primary 1 in Treasureland (any Alumnus reading?) I wrapped the year in first position, slipped in Primary 2 and continued that way (always ending up in the best 5) until I graduated – little wonder I was made the Senior Prefect – I knew a lot, I expressed what I knew and I taught my peers anything and everything they desired to know. I continued in Secondary School albeit a little distracted this time as I had become – struggling between the relevance or not, of what I studied and real life – was it relevant to life, did it matter to my society, how come it was not useful and nobody apart from my teachers and parents cared about what I learnt in school? I drove my mind to ponder a lot about life, love, poverty, wealth, growing up although I still passed all my courses. Fortunately, I was neither a Class Representative nor did I play any leadership role in Junior Secondary (Ansar Ud Deen High School); this gave me ample time to ponder some more on why my mother cut my hair (long thick hair as I currently have *wink wink*) and enrolled me into a Public/State-owned Secondary School whilst my mates went to the ‘cool’ Unity and Private Schools especially Queens’ College (I beef-ed QC!).

However, that experience changed my life.

At 11 and in JSS 1, I came close to poverty for the first time in my life and slowly began to appreciate my not-so-glamorous-and-comfortable life which I was never satisfied with.  You see, at that times a few things made me unhappy from time to time such as: Taking only =N= 50 NGN to school for lunch, going to Primary school with water and biscuits for 6 years instead of cool-aid which my mother reserved at home for no reason, keeping new clothes for many months only to wear them during Xmas or Easter, not going out to see the wonderful beauty of the world as I read in story books but staying at home and being forced to study or memorise  Multiplication Tables (‘2′ to ’12’ times tables) by Primary 4. What a sad and boring life I perceived that I lived.

At 12, when I lost my Mentor, Coach, Friend, Vocabulary Teacher and Father; my mind set flipped and it finally made sense. It was too sudden, tragic and just below the belt for me. I felt the burden of living up to our shared dream of becoming a powerful lawyer like Gani Fawehinmi – whom Government officials and citizens alike revered, but whom my mother feared had a bounty on his head placed by many ‘enemies’ at the same time. In my head, I had to succeed and to succeed, I had to know everything possible.

My point: Whilst I reminisced often between my life and most of my mates at that time (who brought a maximum of =N= 5 NGN only to school to purchase Amala worth =N= 3 NGN and Biscuit bone =N= 2 NGN) and how the reality of their circumstances was oblivious to them, I panicked out of shock. They did not realise that the power to change their circumstances – by getting a sound education – lay in their hands. They carried on, most of the time unserious about their school work and not motivated to score good grades; like nothing mattered. Whilst Free Basic Education did not seem an opportunity to change the direction of their lives, it drove me over the bend to continue to know – never to be caught napping – and to do everything within my feeble human power to succeed. In my teenage opinion, if it was down to hard work and knowledge only, I had to be ‘stinkingly’ rich.

I moved on to Methodist Girls’ High School and met the opposite – wide-eyed young girls – all keen, almost desperate to score good grades. I had scored 5 Distinctions in JSSCE (aka Junior WAEC) but my mates who clinched 11-12 Distinctions and an average of 8 Distinctions across the school set, challenged me. They seemingly told me nothing was impossible and charged me to soar.

In response, I seemingly got into character and in 1 term of studying Pure Sciences, outscored every single member of the set. For me, it was not an attempt to do better but it was just ‘letting-go’ in an environment where excellence was the standard. Hence, I did not permit myself to offer any excuses. A year after, I became the best student in the Senior School Section and then, the entire school. All I needed was the environment to put my ‘infovorous’ habit to test and feed my ‘information demons’, it appeared. I perhaps missed my dad a great deal and my books were a good distraction (and crutch).  After many laurels clinched in Debating, JETS et al and even more Leadership baggage as President of Girls Guide and Senior Prefect; I passed my WASSCE with 7 Distinctions and 1 Credit because I was absent during Yoruba so as not to spoil my grades :); but little did I know that my life had only started.

Biggest Shock: Life was not all about what one knew but how it was applied, I soon realised. Despite applying mine generously, things did not move as fast as I envisaged. For emphasis, how well knowledge was applied or practiced, even if only through attempts, proved to be the most important factor fused with useful and relevant relationships. Most of those things I killed myself to know (in Pure Sciences, Literature, Oral English) became largely irrelevant, perhaps useful only for bragging rights.

Relationships rule(d) the world.

I saw and met a lot of people – ‘dumb’  in my assessment  – yet very successful. They were also everywhere, every single place I turned or worked. I felt like I had wasted my time learning, pushing myself and moulding my mind. I felt like…

NB: This is about the longest post I have written so I will write some more about my life at the moment as an infovore. I intend to spill, so wait for it 🙂

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Emilia loves to bring ideas to life, read and write, and is passionate about learning, meeting and connecting people. She has garnered experience in all facets of the Integrated Marketing Communication gamut (especially print, electronic and digital media), youth development and specialised media communications. A graduate (MSc. & BSc.) of Mass Communication from the University of Lagos, she has completed various training programmes on Sustainability, Corporate Social Responsibility, Environmental & Social Risk Management, Corporate Reporting, Development Communications, Corporate Governance and Executive Coaching amongst many others.