CU, Engaging with the Community and Changing Lives
Covenant University believes in connecting with the local community regardless of people’s situation and circumstances, to equip them with entrepreneurial skills that will empower them to change their lives and make a lasting impact on their communities. The development of these skills will play a significant role in reducing the levels of poverty prevalent in our local community and Nigeria as a whole. It has been out of this vision that Covenant University’s Centre for Entrepreneurial Development Studies (CEDS), was established.
The CEDS is a place where students and members of the local community are able to learn new skills from which they can start businesses. The centre offers a variety of elective practical skills which are coupled with a comprehensive practical and theoretical perspective on entrepreneurship. Some of the electives offered are woodwork, leather work, food processing, photography, tailoring, weaving and bag making, amongst many other things.
One particular success story is that of a member of the community Mr Sunday Akibu, who is an extremely artistic and talented weaver and a member of CEDS staff. He is a man with no ordinary story and his life is sure to be an inspiration to many Nigerians who find themselves in challenging circumstances, particularly those with physical disabilities.
At the age of 15, Mr Akibu was suddenly taken ill leaving him paralysed in both legs. However, he didn’t allow his situation to determine his future; he began to pursue his love for weaving. When asked how he developed his weaving skill he disclosed that he didn’t receive lessons from anyone, it has been a talent God has given him. Mr Akibu had been weaving for 7 years before he came to work at the CEDS where he is now an integral member of the team of artisans in the tailoring room.
Mr Akibu specialises in weaving stylish and exquisite fabrics which can be tailored into husband and wife outfits to be worn at weddings and other special occasions. He explained how often couples bring to him a photo or magazine clipping of a fabric design which they would like him to replicate. Using a lustrous silk thread coupled with a metallic net thread, Mr Akibu is able to weave a precise replica of the intended design.
Apart from commissioning works, Mr Akibu also creates his own unique designs which are turned into a variety of traditional garments including iro, pele, shokoto and dasuki. When asked about the process of creating a new design, he explained that the Holy Spirit is his inspiration and gives him a mental picture of a new design. He then selects the thread colour and begins weaving using a large traditional loom and a shuttle, kept in the centre.
Mr Akibu has continued to hone his craft whilst at CEDS and has recently begun teaching students the intricacies of weaving. “One of the benefits of weaving,” he explains, “is that it is an excellent way to generate income, particularly for those in retirement or those with limited mobility.” He did warn however, that using the shuttle does require a significant amount of upper body strength. He went on to mention that creating such beautiful pieces gives him a strong sense of accomplishment.
Mr Akibu’s designs are often exhibited at special CU events and are permanently displayed at the CEDS exhibition where they can also be purchased.
In a society where many physically disabled people struggle to earn a living, Mr Akibu is a beacon of hope, testifying that in the midst of challenging circumstances beyond any man’s control, one can rise above them. Limitations should not dictate a person’s future. Mr Akibu is extremely grateful for the grace of God upon his life and for the opportunities and support he has been offered at the CEDS. Covenant University’s CEDS is looking forward to seeing many more lives impacted through the training, skill development and other opportunities created by the centre.