My grandfather always told me I was too opinionated and I always replied that I got the gene from him.
Raised in a home where my parents encouraged me and my older sister to be confident in our abilities and to never give up in the face of difficulty, I was not one to be found lacking.
She confessed it was like a dream when she found herself in one of the most prestigious universities in the world studying for free.
I on the other hand really did take the never giving up speech to heart because when a great injustice was about to be done to me I stood my ground not caring how insane I must have looked
or sounded. This is how it all started.
During my first year in my three years of senior secondary education, I joined the only new club in school that spoke more to me than any of the others; the conservation club.
Before I had the conservation club it was always about letting others know about what everyone can do that would bring about a good change in our society.
My best friend Isioma who called me 'a sucker for causes' for the sake of our friendship helped me in my many campaigns for causes I found worth talking about.
I was always making flyers with my father's computer using information I got from the Internet. Isioma helped me distribute while I talked to anyone who would listen.
One time I caused an all out fight between the girls and boys in my class when I began to talk about equality for all. Not really the reaction I had wanted.
The girls refused to talk to the boys for a week because of their egoist comments as Isioma put it.
So when the conservation club was formed I signed up right away. I persuaded Isioma to join despite her having only eyes for the writer's club so she signed up for two clubs.
There were so many activities to be done in the conservation club that I could not believe my luck.
The club worked with people from the Nigerian Conservation Foundation to organize rallies and excursions to forest reserves. Those times were unforgettable.
What was also unforgettable was my idea for an eco themed end of year school party which was shut down immediately.
I was so sure, 'The hot topic that is global warming' would have been a success. Isioma had chosen the punny title.
One would think a fifteen year old girl would have her head in the clouds thinking about boys. One certainly would not think she was very much concerned about a depleting layer up there.
But there I was stunning myself everyday at how involved in such matters I was becoming. I did have a boy in my life though. His name was Abel.
He was my friend and neighbor and a fellow conservation club member.
He had helped me set up my garden at home and was there with Isioma to help me plant some tree saplings given to me by my grandfather along the edge of the school's football field.
It was with this same zeal I put into my little efforts in protecting the environment that I put into my scream which brought all the members of the conservation club in
the school's main hall to an awkward silence. Peter Bamidele had just been announced president of the conservation club and something had snapped in me.
Peter Bamidele was the most popular boy in school. Known for his good looks and athletic prowess he was beloved by all.
I turned to Mr. Jonah, the teacher responsible for handling the club's activities.
He asked, ''what is wrong?''
''What is wrong?! What is wrong?!''
''On what criteria was he chosen as president?''
A few people laughed and whispered amongst themselves.
Mr. Jonah replied,''he is a good fit. As a boy he should be able to handle things better.'' I felt my head about to explode.
''As a boy? And as a girl what would I do with these things you think he can handle better? He has been in the club for a term. I have been here for two years.
And it certainly is no news that he joined because of Samantha!'' Samantha was one of the prettiest girls in school Peter had had his sights on but could not get.
He had dated a lot of girls but Samantha with such a good head on her shoulders did not want to be associated with him.
''What does he know about the environment? Can he even spell environment?'' This brought on a few laughs.
''Calm down Miss Habibah.''
''I will not calm down! I will not stand for this injustice! I deserve to be heard!''
I caught a glimpse of Isioma gesturing for me to calm down. Abel just looked completely dazed. I realized my reaction may have been over the top. Mr.
Jonah said, ''well if that is how it's going to be we'll put it to a vote.''
An uproar ensued from the crowd. Mr. Jonah continued. ''by 9a.m next tomorrow we'll all cast our votes seeing as I'm very busy today and tomorrow.'' He left soon after.
Isioma was quick to give me her comment on my antics. ''You went berserk,'' she said laughing. ''I cannot believe you did that.''
''I cannot believe Mr. Jonah did that. Choosing Peter as president. He must be high,'' Abel said folding his arms.
Peter passed by me and I quickly said ''I'm sorry I said you can't spell environment.'' He looked at me from a brief moment, gave me a bad look before walking away.
As they exited the hall, a lot of club members voiced their thoughts to me. They wondered why I did not let sleeping dog lie. I began to wonder too.
When I told my mother what I did she only had these words for me. ''No one ever got what they truly wanted by remaining silent.''
I found out the next day that I had made some new enemies. My speech slash tantrum did not sit well with a lot of people.
Peter was just too popular and too handsome a boy to be displaced by a fanatic of a girl. He was a boy of the people after all. By the end of the day I was not so sure I would get any votes.
''We'll vote for you,'' Abel said to cheer me up. ''You're driven. A bit bossy sometimes.''
''Incredibly bossy,'' Isioma added.
''So bossy that even your parents have to follow your silly rules in the house because you are an advocate for green. You have good intentions Habibah. Your passion can be easily seen.''
''Like your unnecessary two thousand word essay on endangered animals in Africa,'' Isioma chimed in and I rolled my eyes.
Abel touched my shoulder reassuringly. ''Anyone who would not vote for you must be a fool.'' I still believed it would take a miracle for me to win.
The following morning brought me mini panic attacks when I entered the hall. I soon realized a lot of people were staring and smiling at me.
''What happened?'' I asked an excited Isioma. She hugged me and then held my hands.
''Remember when you disturbed your grandpa for some trees to plant in school and you made Abel and I help?'' I nodded. ''Remember Abel made a video of you that day?''
''I remember. He kept asking me questions.''
''Well your weird speech about the ozone layer and oil spillage has been helping you get votes?''
''What do you mean? I asked him to delete it because I started dancing and...'' I stopped talking when I heard it loud and clear from a phone.
I had been so embarrassed after watching the video Abel made that I asked him to delete it. Apparently he did not.
In the video after my lecture on pollution (I had just read up an article online that morning and was eager to talk) I had done some silly dance moves with a tree sapling in my hand
while I yelled 'for the love of green!' repeatedly.
''Green girl,'' someone dropping his vote teased me and in return I gave him a thumbs up. Abel walked up to us and I hugged him tightly.
''Thank you,'' I said.
''You deserve it.''
After the votes were counted and I emerged victorious, it did not seem like such a miracle anymore. It was everything falling into place.