News
June 29, 2018
Medical student refuses to give up on his dream

For most people, a violin is simply a small, wooden string instrument.

But for Samuel Toka, the violin is what has kept him going for the past year, after he lost his scholarship to pursue studies in medicine.

The 22-year-old Nigerian student arrived in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) more than three years ago to attend the All Saints University after being granted a scholarship by his government.

However, he told SEARCHLIGHT this week that after a change in the Nigerian government, he was among 13 students who were stranded when the new government refused to honour the commitment.

“This recent government doesn’t want to continue with the plan anymore. We tried to petition them but it doesn’t look like its working. So it’s basically me on my own at this time,” Toka explained, revealing that he had been out of university for the past year.

Samuel Toka (centre) joined fellow musicians Geran Maule (left on keyboards) and Saeed Bowman (on pan) to perform a musical piece at an event last Monday.

The violinist, who has a dual passion for music and medicine, said he has been focusing on music; teaching violin lessons and playing at a variety of functions to make money.

He said he has been playing the violin for 10 years and took the opportunity to complete his Grade 5 and Grade 8 music exams under the tutelage of Ruth-Ann Lewis.

But Toka hasn’t given up on his dreams of becoming an obstetrician and gynaecologist. He is hoping that there are persons willing to help him return to his studies at the medical school.

“I play music most of the time to gather funds, that’s basically what I live with right now. That’s what I use to survive, but that is not enough to cover my school fees and that is more reason why I would like to reach out to people,” he said.

According to Toka, fees for the five-year medical programme that he is enrolled in can range between US$5,000 for basic science semesters and US$7,000 for rotation semesters.

He has two more years left before he completes the programme.

Toka revealed that he is the violinist for the St George’s Cathedral and he plays at the Anglican Church of the Ascension at Sion Hill, where mass for the Cathedral is currently held on Sundays.
Furthermore, he expressed gratitude to the church for granting him a place to stay at Sion Hill.

The violinist explained that one EC dollar is approximately 134 Naira (Nigerian currency), making it particularly difficult for his retired parents to send him money frequently.

“Sending money from Nigeria to here is not an option except if your parents are very, very rich. It’s been quite difficult to survive. If not for music and for the church as well,” the young man said.
Toka, who is from the Southern part of Nigeria, said he wants to be an inspiration to young ones by showing them that they can pursue a degree and their passion at the same time.
He also promises anyone willing to help that “I’m not going to be a waste.”

“I was on the scholarship by merit actually, so we sat different exams and had to pass so that I could be sent abroad to study, so I can promise anyone that wants to help or anyone willing to help, that I will be of good impact to the society as well,” he said.

If he has the opportunity to finish his medical degree, Toka said that he would love to give back to St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Anyone wishing to contact Toka to book his musical services or help in any way may call 1(784) 496-4273. He may also be contacted on Instagram at toks_violin or on Facebook at Toks Violin.