Saturday, 14 May 2016

Another Strike Story

        It's been a grueling one-month stay at home after the school had to be shut down on April 11th, 2016. I daresay that in this one month I've gone through all the stages of grief.


        First was the denial phase. On that fateful day, exams were slated to begin. I had no papers that day and so I slept pretty well the previous night. However, my beauty sleep was cut short. I was awoken by a loud noise. The atmosphere was charged and chants that the VC "Lale must go" rent the air. The protest started off peacefully  and unsurprisingly metamorphosed in the blink of an eye. I was confident that everything would be abated in a matter of minutes. The last time a protest , this one violent from the get-go, had tried to be staged, law enforcement officials were called in. Although school activities were suspended for that day, the next day was business as usual. 

       This was my initial thought on the morning of April 11th. I had a rude shock as after an hour, the intensity of the protest only seemed to increase. I and some people recounted stories of how we had once been chased out of our classes with machetes, cutlasses and sticks, yet order was quickly restored. Minutes turned into hours, there was still chaos everywhere.  I started to feel like a Hala Gorani. I attempted to take some pictures and record some videos with my phone. In retrospect, that was not one of my smartest moments. A guy with a stick chased me to make me delete whatever pictures I had taken. I escaped unscathed. 

      Law enforcement officials eventually made their way into school - hours after the students had put all campuses on lock-down by shutting the gates; hours after the protest had resulted in vandalism and flagrant destruction of buildings, and hours after in the name of protests some people had broken into the ICT building and made away with laptops. In the spirit of truth, I can't verify if laptops were actually stolen. 

       One by one, students started to leave school in dramatic fashion. It was a scene straight out of a CNN coverage on refugee camps and people fleeing war-torn regions. People carried heaps of boxes on their heads and arms and walked long distances. Cabs were very rare to come by. At this juncture, I realized it may truly be game over. But I'm an optimist and so I settled into my bed and started to watch a movie. I couldn't accept the stark reality that looked right at me. 

        I knew it was game over when a drama ensued at Choba. It seemed the presence of law enforcement agents only exacerbated the protest. I don't think anyone is quite sure of the events that followed leading up to the death of a student. Only thing that is sure is that it is a truly great tragedy that a life was lost that day. It's what some might term an unnecessary death. 

       I was angry for some time. I was angry at the forced holiday. At times, I was angry at Nigeria. I quickly realized that the statement that "vex no fit fry egg" is very apt. I sunk myself into my favourite past-time, watching movies. Next was my bargaining stage and my depressed stage. I resigned myself to fate. I steeled my heart and prepared for the worst, a six month shut-down like the time of the fabled ASUU strike.

       After all has been said and done, everyone has to step back and evaluate what could have been done better. How do we prevent this kind of occurence from happening again? It is certainly not the time to start laying the blame at anyone's feet. It takes two to tango. I might be in the minority but I was always against the protest. I must still extol the fact that youths could come together for a perceived common grievance. It bodes well for the future of Nigeria. I only wish the protest had been peaceful. The story would have been different. Exams will come and go, we will graduate but we would never forget this period. Just one of the experiences of the Nigerian educational system.

       Finally, I am at the acceptance stage. I have spent slightly over a month out of school with possibly some more weeks to spare. Last last, I have tried. We have all tried. I'm starting to forget that I'm a student.


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