20TH CENTURY, NIGERIA. LITERARY ILLITERATE
The scene opens on a big school compound, where students are being hurried along by sweaty school teachers on a cold harmattan morning. There is tension in the air, and this can be seen written boldly on the teachers’ faces as they harry students about; the students themselves are a combination of bemused, frightened and confused faces.
Inside the classrooms, the teachers clad in khaki shorts, white shirts, and long black ties, are at work. They order the poorly dressed ones to the back, and keep the neat and intelligent students in front of the class.
Soon, the compound is empty and the Inspector’s car is seen bouncing along the drive way up to the Principal’s office. He is probably the cause of anxiety that students, teachers and the principal alike experienced sometime earlier.
The principal rushes out to meet him, and together they enter the principal’s office. They do not spend much time there before heading to SSS 1 where sir Zeruwa is hypocritically strutting about.
STUDENST: (Rising) Goooood moooorning sir.
INSPECTOR: (nods) Good morning, how are you?
STUDENTS: Fine sir.
INSPECTOR: I hope you have been learning?
STUDENTS: (They ponder on this for a while; that sounds like a question and a statement at the same time. Most of them glance towards sir Zeruwa, who gesticulates furiously) Yes sir.
INSPECTOR: Okay, I have a question with a gift to accompany it. (His gaze sweeps through the students, most of whom were notorious and known for writing things on the wall, like: forget not senior Korie, K MAN. He clears his throat) Who wrote “Things Fall Apart?”
STUDENTS: (They are taken aback by the question and look at each other uneasily)
INSPECTOR: Yes, anybody? (The students keep mum) Okay I’ll point. You there (pointing) Who wrote “Things Fall Apart?”
UCHE: (Realises he’s the one being pointed at. He rises like one mourning the dead) Sir . . .I swear I didn’t write it.
INSPECTOR: What nonsense? I know you didn’t write it. Who wrote it?
UCHE: (He brightens up) Oh, you know sir. Thank God. It must be one of the Junior students.
INSPECTOR: (Surprised) Sit down!
UCHE: Thank you sir.
INSPECTOR: (Glowers at the boy) Is there any one here other than this pea-brained boy that knows the writer of “Things Fall Apart?”
STUDENTS: (Everybody begin to talk at once) I saw Ephraim writing it . . .that new boy in jss 1 must be the one . , . the jss3’s are stubborn, they must have written it . . .
INSPECTOR: SHUT UP! (Silence reigns. A pin drop can be heard. Turns to the teacher) What nonsense is this? How can they not know who wrote “Things Fall Apart?”
SIR ZERUWA: That’s how they behave; they’re protecting someone. One of them must have written it on the wall. Where did you see it sir?
INSPECTOR: (Flabbergasted. Turns to the principal) Who . . .
PRINCIPAL: I assure you sir, even though we do not know now, we’ll set up a committee on finding this culprit that wrote “things fall apart.” We’ll find find this culprit that wants to bring the name of the school so . . ,
INSPECTOR: HOLD IT! (Turns to his assistant, incredulous) Can you believe this?
ASSISTANT: That’s how they behave, a student will write something on the wall and none of the so-called teachers will be able to fish him out. It makes me wonder where education is headed . . ,(continues with his monotone. The Inspector’s eyes by now, are as round as saucers and threatening to fall off his face)