Whoever invented school must have been crazy.
I always wondered why I had to spend the first 16 years of my life doing what I just hated.
My aversion to school started from my early days on earth.
Myth has it that I knew how to walk at 8 months but didn’t display the skill until I was just about one.
My refusal to walk was borne out of fear of starting school.
Then I started play class.
I was quite big as a child and my teachers always assumed I was at least 2 years older than my mates
Whenever I wee-weed in my pants, they said I was spoilt
Whenever I slept in class…and snored, they said called me a ‘fatty bombom’
Whenever I built sand castles with the boys, they said I was an ‘agbaya’
Whenever I made hibiscus flower soup in Peak Evaporated milk tins with the girls, they said I was a sissy.
Whenever I tried to tell my mother about the challenges I was facing in play school, I always started asking for a snack and then I’d forget what I wanted to say
Fitting in was hard.
Then I moved to Nursery school.
Fortunately, I met with other children who were my size and age and I didn’t seem as big after all.
But there weren’t many who were as mischievous.
In class, they tried to teach us shapes and numbers but I never really understood the concept except they used food examples.
The teacher would say ‘a triangle is a shape with three sides’
I would repeat the words after her.
When asked to give examples, the only triangle in my head was a sandwich.
I usually got laughed at.
I knew a circle was like a pancake.
I knew a square was like a slice of bread
I knew a straight line was like a koboko which my father used to beat me whenever I was stubborn.
Then I got into primary school.
I started dealing with more complex things like Arithmetic and science.
I was always carried away with the illustrations and stories in the workbooks than the sums inside them.
A question would read like this:
Abdul and Susan have 6 oranges. If Susan eats two oranges and Abdul eats half, how many oranges will remain?
I would read the question over and again contemplating it as if I knew the answer.
Normally, we would have 5 minutes to answer such questions but in my little mind, I’d be asking why Susan (a girl) should eat more oranges than Abdul (a boy).
Wasn’t Abdul hungry?
Why didn’t they finish all the oranges?
Where were the remaining oranges?
I would think about all these questions until time was up and I’d fail my sums.
In my fortnight report card, my teachers would remark ‘Dipo plays too much. He doesn’t concentrate in class. He needs to sit up.’
They were right.
Needless to say, I never really came first or second in class (from the front or back).
I was just average.
I must have carried the same daydreaming spirit into the Primary School Common Entrance Examinations. which was my ticket to Secondary School.
I really hoped that secondary school would offer a better type of education.
The exam had so many questions and the wondering and wandering spirit took over again:
Health Education: Add 10 spoons of sugar and one teaspoon of salt to a litre of water and what do you get? I was tempted to say replace the salt with garri and groundnuts and you have yourself a meal.
Social Studies: A nuclear family is made up of Father, Mother and Children. I would start wondering how parents made children
Arithmetic again: If Abdul and Susan were to share 12 biscuits in ration 4:2…I would wonder why Abdul couldn’t beat Susan and just have all 12?
Anyway, my wondering and wandering had consequences.
I didn’t really pass any of the entrance examinations.
And if I didn’t I would have to repeat Primary 6.
That was my wake up call.
I couldn’t repeat.
I couldn’t endure another year of Abdul and Susan in their questionable food scams.
I prayed for a resolution and it came.
A missionary secondary school had a few slots, which I miraculously qualified for.
My parents had given me lectures about secondary school.
They said there were no fortnight report cards; that our reports would be given at the end of the term.
It was a boarding school, so they would only see me 3 times in 13 weeks.
I would wash my clothes, eat with other students in a dining hall and sleep on an iron bunk with springs.
“Quelle est la date d’aujourd’hui?”
That was what the French Teacher said during our first class in JSS1.
She said it meant ‘what is today’s date’ in French
I thought it was the name of an age group in Ebonyi State.
Our French teacher had an Igbo accent.
When I matched what she said with what was written, I knew we would have a problem.
The wondering spirit had returned.
Our English Teacher had tribal marks.
Every time he taught us how to pronounce words, I couldn’t but notice how the marks on his face would stretch.
Our fine art teacher was a Yoruba man with the ‘H’ factor and a false American accent
Every time he pronounced ‘Art’ it always sounded like ‘Heart’
And his love for art overshadowed his language skills.
While invigilating an exam, he once cautioned us by saying ‘If I caught you cheating’
Needless to say, I wrote that exam kneeling down in front of the class.
Our Bible Knowledge Teacher was an enigma.
As an ambassador of Christ, he called himself Mr. Perfect.
He always wore a white shirt and black trouser, signifying the constant battle between good and evil.
Good always won…
What fascinated me most about him was that he always showed off his future wife by bringing her picture to class.
He would brandish the image in front of the class and tell us that he was blessed with a fine wife material.
We always asked when she would come and visit.
He said ‘God’s time was the best’
We later found out that that picture was Naomi Campbell’s.
Our literature teacher was an NYSC, popularly known as Corper
She was a young, chic with a well formed body
If you asked me to describe her shape in food form, she would be a pear.
I once made a made a passing comment about how much time God put into making her and I got rewarded with an afternoon, kneeling down under the sun.
All through the years, each teacher came with their antics and idiosyncrasies.
All through the years, I managed to get promoted from class to class.
And then in final year, we wrote the mock exams and I got feedback from my results:
Moths – P8
English – C6
Bible Knowledge – C5
Economics – C5
Agriculture Science – A1
Hausa – F9
When I got the result, I started wondering why they used alphabets and numbers to rate us.
I wondered if there was anything like A9
I presented the results to my parents.
My Father wanted me to be an accountant.
My mother would have preferred Law.
My mock results could only fetch me an opening in the seminary or on a farm.
For the first time in my life I sat down and took stock.
Why was I average?
Why was my mind always wandering?
What was I always wondering about?
What if I got stuck in secondary school and never graduated?
For the first time, I decided to take the initiative.
I went to WAEC office and bought all the past questions I could lay my hands on.
I studied. Hard.
I passed. In flying colours.
By the time I got the university,
It didn’t matter that Lecturer A suffered from amnesia right in the middle of his lectures
It didn’t matter that lecturer B who taught Playwriting had published just one play in his career
It didn’t matter that lecturer C who taught electronic production had never seen a DVD before
It didn’t matter that I had to share a hostel room with 21 other inmates (sorry roommates)
It didn’t matter that we staged theatrical performances without learning our lines completely
I didn’t matter that the student union encouraged us to boycott lectures at the slightest provocation
I just wanted to learn:
How to deal with the Abduls and Susans of this world who would constantly have to share oranges and other things.
How to start a business and run it profitably
How to deal with rejection
How to handle relationships
How to make the best of relationships
How to package and position myself
My teachers may have had their baggage but I learnt something from them all.
My Bible Knowledge teacher taught me never to have false expectations…for they might never come.
My French teacher taught me to be confident…even if everyone laughs at me.
Lecturer A taught me that you can never lose your experience…even if he forgets ever so often.
Dear God, I know I’m wobbly and twisted help everyone in my sphere of influence find something tangible to learn from me in Jesus Name. Amen.