Institutions that Kill Dreams: I Wanted to Become a Banker
This is my first time in Zurich, Switzerland 🇨🇭 but I knew here a long time before finally visiting. I knew here from a childhood dream that never happened.


The story is simple, like every other story of a child, a teenager, or a young adult who had aspirations. While most of the other kids I grew up with chose to be doctors and lawyers, I wanted to be a banker. Yeah, a banker — not exactly because bankers deal with money, well that might be related, but it was particularly because bankers looked very successful.


I grew up in Aba, Nigeria. It's a very industrial place, a city of entrepreneurs and manufacturing, and this also meant a city that's just a marketplace. You perhaps can guess the everyday fashion we see — the fashion of a marketplace, traders and artisans, buyers, and sellers negotiating under the scorching sun. Only Sundays were different. Aba is a Christian-dominated city, and if you want to see the neat, professional, run-way like or some fascinating-styled fashion expression, then stand by the road on Sundays and watch people going to church, they look just sweet in their fashion innovations. But the other days? Hustle activated; fashion to the wastebin. Hahahahahahaha.  


I knew a banker back then. He will dress up looking so professional — everyday was a Sunday, and it seemed he would never sweat. I mean, thinking about it now, how will you be on different shades of suit everyday at almost or above 30°c temperature?   But I liked it. He looked different, clean, successful and had a car — another mark of success for me back then. I wanted to be a banker. I held unto this dream for so long.  


First, it's time to choose a subject major in secondary school — I choose to do Arts. To be a banker, I need subjects classified as Arts, not sciences. My teachers and mentors wanted me to do Sciences. They thought I was such a brilliant boy fit for the rigures of science. But man had other plans. Lol. I didn't listen to them, I chose Arts.   It's time to gain admission into the university. I still held unto my banking dream. I applied to study economics. But, the admissions committee had other plans. I was rejected! I had great grades and couldn't imagine the justification for this rejection. This was the end of that beginning.  


Did you figure out how Zurich came into the picture? Let me just say it — while I was romancing my childhood banking dream, I would romance Zurich, the banking city. I felt I needed to be here for so long. Switzerland is one of the earliest countries I ever knew about and wanted to visit. I created imaginations — Zurich must be reeling in wealth and banks at every corner.   Switzerland is a beautiful place. Zurich, wow, such an almost perfect city. But I was disappointed. I like the city and I didn't see the banks. I think, they're hidden. Lol. But there's a bigger disappointment and worry, just thinking of it now. The institutions that kill dreams?  


In Nigeria, to get admission into the university, you need to pass your O'level (secondary school cert), especially Math and English; you need to pass the government administered exam, JAMB; and then through a university exam (Post UTME), you need to pass this last hurdle to gain admission. Why do I have to pass three exams (largely testing the same thing)? This is not a case of logic/reasoning test versus comprehensive exam— the three are comprehensive. And even after passing, there's no guarantee you will be admitted.  


I couldn't become a f*ck*ng banker. But I'm glad. Bankers are neither the most successful nor the sweetest looking in the fashion scheme of things. Hahahahahahahaha.  


Reminiscing on these things, just a scratch over the surface, makes me think deeper into the concept of institutions that kill dreams and how to identify areas for improvement in policy development and implementation. Not just in education but in every other area, needing sustainable improvement. This is one of the biggest threats in the success of development in democracies. There are weak institutions, there are institutions badly conceived and administered. I will stop there and allow the experts. Attention researchers. These areas need more focus. Just thinking out loud with my pen. Have a great day.