Heart of Arts

From Stroke to Stone!

Toyin Falola


During the tranquil moments of a Spring dawn, the course of existence has the potential to undergo a profound transformation within a mere moment. The month of February, typically characterized by tranquil beauty brought by nature and contemplative introspection, served as a testing ground for my resilience and ability to endure. This narrative transcends the realm of mere medical survival, delving into the intricate interplay between the delicate nature of human existence and the unwavering determination to overcome adversity and acquire wisdom. This narrative delineates a personal account, commencing with a cerebral infarction but subsequently evolving into an odyssey of intellectual growth, culminating in the dissemination of 21 major lectures to a public audience.

On a typical day, resembling countless others, an event of inconceivable nature unfolded. The occurrence of a stroke, a frequently discussed topic in medical literature and whispered about in discreet conversations, manifested itself unexpectedly and abruptly, defying any prior personal contemplation. During those tumultuous hours, wherein each passing moment became a fierce struggle between the preservation of life and its imminent demise, the prospect of the future appeared as a remote and indistinct apparition.

However, it is commonly asserted that the period of greatest darkness occurs immediately prior to the emergence of daylight. The path towards recuperation encompassed not only a formidable physical endeavour but also an arduous cognitive endurance test. Every passing day presents us with novel challenges, serving as a litmus test for our determination and an encounter with the inherent fragilities that define our human nature. Instances of profound despondency arose, wherein the forthcoming expedition appeared insurmountable. However, amidst the profound realms of ambiguity, a glimmer of resoluteness materialized, an unwavering commitment not merely to endure but to flourish.

My existence became intricately intertwined with the realm of academia, a domain characterized by the diligent pursuit of knowledge, rigorous investigation, meticulous analysis, and fervent intellectual conversation. The primary subject matter of my research necessitates a profound commitment to lucidity of thought and meticulousness, attributes that were potentially jeopardized by the occurrence of a stroke. However, amidst the challenging circumstances, I discovered a revitalized sense of direction and meaning. The skills cultivated through rigorous academic pursuits have proven instrumental in facilitating personal revitalization. The process of regaining physical well-being and cognitive vigour served as a testament to the indomitable nature of the human psyche and the inherent capacity for resilience that resides within everyone. These incremental victories, though individually unassuming, harmoniously converged to weave a narrative of extraordinary convalescence. This temporal epoch was not solely concerned with the restoration of bodily vigour or neurological capabilities; rather, it constituted a profound and metamorphic encounter that reconfigured my comprehension of existence, fortitude, and the quest for erudition.

As I found myself on the cusp of recuperation, a fresh obstacle presented itself, alluring me forward. The moment had arrived in reentering society, not merely as a mere individual who had endured but as a symbol of optimism and erudition. The choice to engage in public lectures transcended mere scholarly pursuit; it represented a triumphant declaration in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges. The decision to engage in public speaking was a courageous transition from the limited boundaries of a healing space to the vast realm of scholarly dialogue. To Professor Nduka Otiono, the President of the Canadian African Studies Association, who offered the opportunity of a Keynote Address in Toronto in the last week of May, I thank him for the intellectual liberation that laid the foundation of a renewed energy.

The lectures transcended the realm of mere presentations, serving as a profound testament to the indomitable resilience and unwavering spirit inherent in human determination. Every lecture, meticulously prepared and ardently presented, constituted a chapter within the continuous narrative of recovery and intellectual illumination. The lectures encompassed a wide range of subjects, yet each one struck a chord with my odyssey. The research encompassed a multitude of technical intricacies, which served as a testament to the meticulousness and transparency that were reinstated during the process of recovery. However, I also explored more expansive concepts such as resilience, adaptability, and the profound impact of knowledge. These themes have become intricately entwined with my narrative.

In the process of preparing for these lectures, I undertook a comprehensive review of my research, approaching it from a fresh and novel standpoint. What was once solely confined to the realm of academic endeavours has now assumed a more compelling and meaningful import. These entities have assumed symbolic significance, representing the myriad challenges encountered in the journey of life and the delicate equilibrium we strive to uphold while traversing them. Like the intricate functioning of society, the human spirit also necessitates equilibrium, stability, and optimal allocation in its pursuit of healing and advancement.

Through the delivery of each lecture, I discovered that I was not merely disseminating information, but rather, I was also offering a glimpse into the personal odyssey that has shaped my intellectual development. The diverse assemblage of individuals, ranging from scholars to inquisitive non-experts, assumed the role of fellow voyagers on this profound quest for knowledge and understanding. The inquiries and exchanges of the participants introduced novel perspectives to the narrative, thereby imbuing each lecture with distinctiveness and intellectual enrichment. However, this expedition was not solely centred around the act of verbal communication but rather encompassed the equally significant aspect of attentive auditory perception.

During these lectures, I actively participated in deep discourse, engaging in a dialectical exchange not only with the audience but also with my intellectual faculties. The conversations served as a profound introspective analysis, wherein I engaged in a rigorous evaluation of my deeply held convictions, personal principles, and the invaluable insights acquired because of confronting and overcoming challenging circumstances. The endeavour presented a series of intellectual and cognitive obstacles, thereby fostering personal and scholarly development within my being. The twenty-first lecture possessed a distinct and noteworthy significance. The numerical representation of lectures delivered not only served as a significant milestone but also symbolized the transformative voyage undertaken, encompassing the profound depths of desolation and culminating in the zenith of scholarly and individual triumph. Like the first lecture, the Keynote presented to the Canadian African Studies Association, the Convocation Lecture at Summit University exemplified a fusion of technical understanding and personal anecdotes, yet it possessed an additional stratum of triumph and appreciation.

The seamless articulation of thoughts and ideas became a clear manifestation of the transformative impact this expedition had on both my cognitive framework and my pedagogical approach. The encounter with the challenges posed by a stroke has endowed my lectures with an enhanced sense of empathy, a more profound rapport with the audience, and a revitalized enthusiasm for the dissemination of knowledge. As the progression of lectures unfolded, each presentation transcended the mere dissemination of information, evolving into a forum for cultivating resilience and fostering optimism. The conclusion of these lectures did not mark a conclusion, as the Yoruba Esu would put it in a profoundly confusing manner, but rather a commencement, serving as a portal to additional inquiry and scholarly engagement, extending beyond the realm of academia and into broader spheres of influence.

The lectures’ influence transcended the confines of an auditorium. They incited intellectual debates, fostered deliberation, and served as a source of motivation for those grappling with their challenges, be it in the realm of physical well-being, scholarly pursuits, or individual experiences.

The compelling account of triumphing over the debilitating effects of a stroke, ultimately culminating in my poise and presence before a captivated audience, struck a profound chord with numerous individuals. It functioned as a symbol of optimism, a concrete manifestation of the potency inherent in human determination and steadfastness. Within the realm of academia, my journey has contributed a distinctive dimension to my position as a scholar and facilitator of knowledge. This scenario presented a tangible exemplification of the recurring concepts that I frequently expounded upon during my instructional sessions. The inclusion of my personal experiences has significantly enhanced the quality of my discussions, research projects, and collaborative endeavours. This valuable addition has contributed a sense of depth and authenticity that can only be derived from firsthand encounters.

The process of recuperation and cognitive involvement has fundamentally reshaped my comprehension of achievement. This observation highlights the significance of perseverance, compassion, and the capacity to adjust and develop amidst challenging circumstances. These attributes, frequently eclipsed by traditional academic measures, have surfaced as essential foundations of genuine accomplishment and contentment. When contemplating the future, one can discern a trajectory that is adorned with novel prospects and formidable obstacles. The culmination of delivering 21 lectures after my recovery represents not merely the conclusion of a particular phase but rather serves as a preface to a forthcoming period characterized by ongoing development, investigation, and meaningful engagement. The vast expanse of untapped knowledge, the boundless reservoir of ideas awaiting dissemination, and the untold stories yearning to be penned collectively constitute a realm of intellectual exploration.

In summary, the transformative trajectory from a state of physical debilitation to one of resilience and intellectual illumination transcends the realm of individual narrative. This phenomenon serves as a testament to the indomitable nature of the human psyche, the catalytic potential of intellectual enlightenment, and the profound influence that an individual’s journey can exert upon others. This statement serves as a poignant reminder that even during periods of profound adversity, there exists the inherent capacity for personal development, intellectual illumination, and an unwavering determination not only to endure but to flourish and motivate others.

PS: This is a statement to close my activities for 2023. For the 2022 statement, see https://www.premiumtimesng.com/opinion/573447-tf-at-70-a-meditation-on-nothingness-by-toyin-falola.html#:~:text=Personally%2C%20I%20am%20transitioning%20to,to%20achieve%20that%20united%20front


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