July 15

I have this vague memory from primary school.

A girl had done something bad. It wasn’t too bad but it was bad enough that it warranted caning. But she was not the type who could withstand such punishment and I’m not sure why the teacher said she can only be left off the hook if someone took her place.

I volunteered.

I don’t think I was ever really being friends with the girl or particularly liked her, but for some reason I can’t remember, I felt empathy and found myself volunteering to be caned instead of her. The memory makes me cringe and smile at the same time. Such selflessness… I wonder where it all went to.

Fast forward to many years later, I happened upon her on twitter and followed her to strike a conversation but she was uninterested. Courteous but still uninterested. One day she said something and I commented on that and she subbed me, talking about how this person from her primary school days was chasing her or something. I just laughed at her feeling of self importance and went my merry way.

I didn’t remember then what I’d volunteered to do for her till the point when I decided to pen this down. I’m not even sure what this all means. I’m just writing because…well…it’s fun.

*

It’s frustrating to be a student in a Nigerian University. I’ve not had a lot of run-ins with evil lecturers and I’m sure my case can be thought of as small compared to some others. But here’s what happened.

I had stayed up all night on Sunday to study for a test on Monday. Then I hurried to the lecture room where the test was to take place. I was tucked in (which I hate) but without a tie because in the rush to get to the venue on time, I’d forgotten my tie.

I felt it didn’t really matter. The lady lecturer wasn’t too big on hounding us over our attire. She was more concerned that we didn’t read wide and instead for knowledge (my kind of lecturer).

We proceeded to start the test and she dictated the two questions (which were really five questions) and they were mildly tricky. They involved a level of application of what had been taught instead of mindlessly listing shit and cramming (my kind of questions).

I immediately started scribbling away instead of jotting down points first and structuring how I’d answer because I have this thing where knowledge flows into my head just to flow out. It’s like when you cup your hands and try to drink water; you have to do it fast or else the water would drip through. Jotting down helps retain some of it, but I thought I’d be having smooth uninterrupted access to my bowl of knowledge.

Everything was going fine for the first two minutes. Quiet class, with the silent scribbling of pens and sometimes a whispered conversation behind me. Then it all went to shit.

A lecturer whose neck had been in a brace before (probably from poking his head into other people’s bidneezz) poked his head through the door and exclaimed, “So this class can be this much!”

He strolled in, while talking about how he couldn’t believe what he was seeing and how we never attend lectures. I ignored him when he first interrupted, but as he progressed into the class, my focus on the test began faltering and I began getting annoyed. The man began mentioning how most of us are improperly dressed i.e. we aren’t choking ourselves in a regularly stuffy classroom with ties. Heck, 90% of us were tucked out.

I still scribbled on.

Then he started deducting marks from every one of the improperly dressed males in the room.

Dafuq?!

This wasn’t his test! The audacity of it all! Who did the wanker think he is?

While doing so, he kept talking and I kept getting frustrated because my concentration was slipping and I wasn’t being as articulate on the paper as I wanted to be.

Needless to say, he deducted marks from 90 percent of the males (his right testicle be cursed), and then proceeded to spew some regular Nigerian garbage. It went along the lines of how being well dressed will take you places and at least even if you don’t have anything upstairs, people won’t immediately know because you’re well dressed. You see why this country won’t move forward? Taking stock of someone basically just because of the way they are dressed – seriously?!

I agree that being properly dressed (which is really relative) helps to improve people’s impression of you, but to put that as a MAJOR criterion of someone intelligent is stupid. It’s basically Nigeria’s obsession with the superficial in a nutshell.

I’m not saying we should dress anyhow or improperly and I completely agree that we were at fault because code of conduct did give us a dress code of some sort. But where it starts to take over actual substance (worrying about what we are wearing and considering it an ideal cover-up for stupidity), then it’s a problem.

They constantly say character over learning, and apparently, character also involves who we are. Never mind the fact that some of the biggest thieves in this country are the best dressed. Dressing doesn’t mean squat!

Besides I think we’ve got shit all wrong. We like to coat the nastiness on the outside and make it look pretty. But guess what, it’s still nasty. How about we change the inside first, change how people think. It’s sure to seep out and influence more solidly what is on the outside. Unfortunately we don’t think very much in this country.

And yes, my mark deduction is paining me. Have I cursed his right testicle yet?

Written by IBK

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