Nothing on this earth can ever stop a person who has the determination to succeed. Matilda Awiah Wedadibam, popularly called Sister Mattie, is one such female personification of determination.
One will struggle to get an appropriate word to describe her. She defied all odds, persevered, struggled and made her long-cherished dream come true.
Today she is a living testimony to the numerous mothers out there, whether single or not, to always aspire higher no matter their situation.
Matilda is from Navrongo and was married to Francis Kojo Azuimah (Deceased) from the Builsa District and has three children.
She is the third of 12 children. She had her primary school education at Monsignor Abatey Memorial School in Navrongo and proceeded to the Bolgatanga Girls Secondary and Navrongo Secondary Schools for her secondary education.
Ms Wedadibam had stints with the Tamale Training College of Education where she studied and became a trained teacher.
She gained her first degree at the Navrongo campus of the University for Development Studies (UDS).
Matilda gained admission to the Ghana Institute of Management and Professional Studies (GIMPA) for her LLB degree and the Ghana School of Law where she graduated with smiles.
Speaking to The Mirror after graduating from the Ghana Law School recently, she said: “The dream to become a lawyer started with one of my lecturers at UDS-Navrongo campus. During one of the Sociology lectures, the lecturer introduced a very controversial topic: ‘Determinism and Freewill’, which called for a debate. After the class discussion, in which I led the arguments for determinism,’ little did I know that I did well.
The lecturer called me and said: ‘Madam you need to be a lawyer’. I took his advice seriously because I actually wanted to be a lawyer but did not have that confidence. The assurance from the lecturer increased my confidence level and I planned to enrol for the LLB programme immediately after my first degree but that didn't materialise for many reasons but, here I am today, with a dream come true and the rest is history”.
Road to the bar
She said the road to the Bar was a very rough and difficult path, explaining that in the last semester of LLB at GIMPA, she lost her husband -
Francis Azuimah. According to her, it was the most painful and devastating experience of her life.
Her heart was broken. She lost it all. She knew at the time that there was no way she could pick up the broken pieces of her life.
Ms Wedadibam and Francis her late husband
Ms Wedadibam said Francis was to her a bird and its feathers, without the feathers, the bird was helpless. “Francis was the feathers and I, the bird, and Francis’ departure was like all the feathers removed out of my body and rendering me helpless”.
With three young children and no husband, life could not be any less mean to her. She decided to defer the course at GIMPA but to her surprise, some of her friends opposed to the idea and gave her all the encouragement and support to write the final examination at GIMPA.
“It was extremely difficult and hard for me. I buried my husband early in May and in less than two weeks I had to write my final examinations at GIMPA and in July I wrote the entrance examination for the Ghana School of Law. Broken as I was, these were the most difficult exams I had to write in my entire life. To God be the glory, I sailed through each of them. And I must confess even though someone will say she is a strong woman, there is no way I could have achieved this without God Almighty, my friends and family."
“Yes, it is true that the route to the bar had not been an easy one. I was a wife, mother, a worker and the strength of my family. Fortunately for me, I enrolled as an evening student for the LLB programme at GIMPA. I went to work during the day and school at night. The most difficult hurdle for me was my children and my husband.
Due to the traffic situation in Accra, I always had to leave home latest by 4:30 p.m. in order to make it in time for lectures and it was at this same time that the children will be returning home from school. It was always extremely difficult for me to supervise their homework and inspect their books," she recounted.
"The main problem facing law students today is the entrance examination. Once you pass the entrance exams, your dream of becoming a lawyer in Ghana manifests into reality. Of course, I was as scared as everybody. I always said writing the entrance exams is a gamble. You are least likely to win and most likely to lose. So to calm my nerves, I prayed and always told God to let his will be done. Therefore, I prepared myself. if I pass all the better and if I fail, God shall show me an alternative plan”.
“There is no way I could have made it this far amid these troubles without the Almighty God. I am a Roman Catholic and like many Catholics, a keen churchgoer. Even though I did the basics of Christ teachings, I was not a devoted Christian, but when I lost my husband in March 2018, I came to the realisation that I can only walk through this difficult path with my Lord Jesus Christ."
She said she devoted much of her time to praying and devotion to Christ teachings. "I went to church six times a week, said my rosary daily and at the least opportunity I got. I totally believe this is what has brought me this far.
I also believe God works through human beings and so there are many people who made me and my children their primary priority. There was always someone in my life at every point of my need.
They made sure I was financially, emotionally and psychologically stable to enable me to move on in my stages of life. I personally attribute my success to so many people whose names will fill a full chapter if they are to be mentioned”.
She added that it was a miracle that she graduated from the Law School and in addition received an award. Earlier in the week of “graduation”, I went to the school to present some documents for the graduation and decided to check on my raw exam scores. I did so well in Criminal Procedure and Interpretation of Deeds and Statutes but I least expected that my outstanding performance will lead to my being granted an excellence award. All I wanted was to be called to the bar, but God gave me more. He wiped away my tears and put smiles on my face."
"Interestingly, it was my good friend who saw the award listed in the graduation brochure and sent congratulations to me. I had not seen it myself. I asked him what he was talking about, so he took a snapshot and sent it to me. I could not believe it; I was so excited that I started forwarding it to all my friends and family," she narrated.
Ms Wedadibam and her children
My advice to people who find themselves in my type of situation of helplessness is that “if someone can do it why not you?” For her, confidence and determination are all one needs to rise up to where they want to be.
"I am a confident person. However, I lost my confidence when my husband died. I just could not pull myself together until I encountered one of my lecturers. After the encounter, he made it his personal problem to help me rebuild. So friends, no matter your situation, no matter how low you have fallen, no matter how engulfed you are by darkness, there is always light at the end of the tunnel," she said.