The Raw and Unscripted: Pt.2

In the classroom, everyone is equally treated, but of course there is always ‘an apple eye’ of the teacher amongst the student folk. Like a herd, the teacher is the shepherd of the class. But even in the jungle, the herdsmen do not dwindle the welfare of the bulls, and the grazing of cows. The former for protecting the herd and conjugal duties, while the latter for milking. Inevitably, there are always those that will lead the class in exams, in tests and even in disturbance, the important thing is not be caught on the wrong footing all through your time in school.

In reaction to this incident, the entire class revolted on their colleague for being so indiscipline. “You must leave this class, and apologize to the teacher” the class prefect vehemently told him. Henceforth, the teacher enjoyed a full-blown respect from the entire class, but also neither absent nor late for that class. After all, his insolence paid dividend. To be rude doesn’t really benefit, but to be critical does. The student might had acted rudely but he was being critical too. Perhaps he should had done it politely. Often, teachers and school administrations are overlooked, overrated, and seldom hold accountable for their shortcomings. Reasons for this may varied but an unchecked leader is prone to legion of failures. “Our Headmistress is an iron lady,” one of the student told his colleagues from another school. “She reprimands teachers for lateness and undue absenteeism” he continued. “Likewise the students, she never hesitate to send you home to call your parents” interesting narratives as students gathered to gossip about the earlier incident in their class. The moment students approach Upper Basic, Junior School as popularly known – everything changes. As students become more exposed, more inclined, and more studiously curious, their lives are stuffed ranging from what they’re passionate about to what they find important.

“I can recalled, my first day at Junior school, I was a total stranger, everything and everyone look so different, and new at the same time. But, all of a sudden I belonged, and never have I ever dream of today, that everything would come to past”. Teacher told some students who where all newly intakes into the seventh grade. “You will make friends, foes, families and love ones too, probably. And It will be a long ride, sometimes smooth, other times hard like a rock, and most times interesting and worth the while. Like all of us, you would be face with challenges, disappointments, and failures – as well, there would be blissful moments and exciting ” She added. “Now it would be your ultimate task to remove the chaff from the grains, and whatever that means to you”. She concluded her speech. Although, students in the city do have constraints just as those in rural setups. E.g. some students in the city struggle to secure transportation to school, particularly children of the middle class, while those in the rural areas trek to their schools, except for those lucky to own bicycles, more like a dichotomy. Thus, stories untold, the raw and unscripted life of students in this part of the world is overwhelming. Learning is a fulfilling experience, but a bitter sweet journey too for many that undertake it. You ever wonder why people who are so learned seldom pompous? because true knowledge calms you; you become collected, thoughtful, and less of a talker.

Students in the seventh grade may still be a little premature compare to those in their tenth grade. But just as a recruit in a military, you remain the subordinate to those that senior you, in the case of the school system, the seven is subordinate to the eight, nine, eleventh and twelve grade. At this stage, you’re more like a baby, who is being nurtured into becoming an adult until such time that you’ve also climb the ladder. You will be bullied, discriminated, made foolish, and maybe unsolicited to sit with your seniors. “I got chased away the moment I sit beside them, in fact, anytime I sit beside them” a student complained to a fellow in the school. However, these discriminations, the biasness, and all that in between is not insidious, neither belligerent nor prejudicial but an antic of school life. The anti school subcultures; the stubborn, the wild, the rude, the aggressive, and the self-upright students are like ingredients that spicy up the raw life of a student – as it brings out the worst in students.

In the classroom, everyone is equally treated, but of course there is always ‘an apple eye’ of the teacher amongst the student folk. Like a herd, the teacher is the shepherd of the class. But even in the jungle, the herdsmen do not dwindle the welfare of the bulls, and the grazing of cows. The former for protecting the herd and conjugal duties, while the latter for milking. Inevitably, there are always those that will lead the class in exams, in tests and even in disturbance, the important thing is not be caught on the wrong footing all through your time in school.

All that matters through all the years spend from Lower Basic, Senior Secondary, to Tertiary level, boiled down to how much a student score in a test or examination, which remain the sole target of our teachers, and the students, rather than preparing students into becoming real life problem solvers. Hence, the search for knowledge mostly become significant to most students when we’ve become matured learners. i.e. when we begin tertiary education, as it is when we realize our individual potentials, carrier goals, strengths, and weaknesses. It is the target at Lower Basic (primary level) qualifying to Upper Basic. Likewise at Upper Basic and High school, although there are few exceptions, those that will be left behind for numerous reasons, those that would always fail, those that would always dropped out, and those whose parents are constrained to meet their financial commitments. In hindsight, no matter the size of your dreams as a student, often your goal is trimmed down to a passing grade to the next level. Notwithstanding, there are students, who would not settle for less, who like to win enormously, and excellently. Just as in real life, there are those that aim at wealth accumulation, and they would hustle and struggle for every penny and dime to make that million. Tertiary education provide an opportunity for students to horn their career goals and prepare for the changing world ahead. At this stage, most of the students already approach growth, puberty, and maturity with a carrier ambition. Suffice it to say, most students now days realise the significance knowledge, and its centrality to their livelihoods, upon enrollment at a tertiary institute.

However, tertiary education, for example university, is the highest learning institution in any country. Students at this level of their education are expected to be matured, responsible, and more proactive towards education. To be enrolled into university education is one thing, and to graduate is another. Some attend university to grab a certificate for promotion at work, others go to university to become a graduate, a specialist, or an expert in their domain, while others are just entice by the hype (even though that’s little among the lot who sign up for University education) of University life. For whatever reason, life at university is a more complex, demanding, and multitasking endeavor in the entire educational cycle of any. You would meet your father’s agemate, some your agemates, and others older than you – all struggling to get a degree in a bid to elevate their selves and their close affinities. “I do not get it what these old folks are going to with a university after they’d exceeded their prime lives” a student engaged his friends in a discourse. “You’re not okay, these old folks as you referred to them, are more conscious of what they want than you probably did”. A colleague responded swiftly. “Some of them have wealth of experience in their domains, they’re here for the paper – the certificate, and not to compete”. He added.

Learning is stages, and the younger you’re, the more vibrant you’re able to learn, more over, this world is a mysterious place. Also, nature is diverse, we all may have similar goals as far as education is concern, our stories are unique as per each individual’s reality. Thus, you’ll do yourself a great deal of good when you ceased to be judgmental, bias, inconsiderate and proud. “Be a bridge and not a wall; be hospital, upright, courteous and discipline at all times and towards everyone you meet in here, because tomorrow is mystery, and only divine power can ascertain the future”. Another colleague admonished him. They retired to their class to attend the final lecture of the day. By end of the day, they were given a group assignment, fortunately for them, the assignment was related to the work of one of their elderly student. Sooner than later, a student realised how he had been arrogant towards that guy. So now, he was forced to either swallow his pride and work with the man or exit the group, he was literally unhinged. It occurred to him that he is neither an island nor an omniscient.

The Raw and Unscripted: Pt.1

At school, various and all kind of life exist, and there is never an equilibrium, things have always work one’s favor in one way or another. You see children come to school rough, tired, hungry and sometime unfriendly. Yet ambitious, brilliant and focus. While others come with flashy shoes, stuffed with school materials, and appeared all civilized and neat, yet reckless, non-challan, and dull. More over, the dissent in class, between, among classmates and schoolmates is terribly exciting. Students tease each other on things such as who’s more of a eater, more of a slumber, more chaste or more of the opposite.

To have been there, seen it, feel it, and liven it, is the wholesome of any experience. Going through school, one could not be oblivious of the raw, ugly, beautiful, the dark, the light, the passionate, the petty, the kind, and the cruel life of it. School life is an interesting, exciting, and important endeavor in a lifetime. At most, everyone in our generation have one way or another do some school life. while many may have it on a silver plate, many others have it the hard the way. “I recalled I brought my own table and chair to school at my first grade, it may sound weird today but it was a fulfilling experience.” An old man said to a school going boy by the road, dressed neatly, and smart In a light blue shirt and dark short trouser uniform. The boy smile at the old man and say “things have changed Dad” the school boy responded with a soft speech, and his head bowed down as he walked passed the old man.

Conventional schooling used to be a forbidden fruit in provincial African societies. Today if you are not schooled, and educated in the rigorous ABC and 123 , you’ll probably be an outcast or some sort in their midst. Despite, It’ll amazed you to learn that lessons are taken under the shade of mango trees or on marts with school children sitting with legs stretched on the marts like traditional initiates in rural setups. Unlike most schools in the city, they’re electrified, classrooms have fans fixed on the roof blowing on the students as lessons are on, grotesque of inequality, poor governance and centralized development. A persistent flaw in leaderships of our governments yet unable to rid-off, and like a cancer it continue to eat at us. Conventional schooling was reserved for the privilege, and particularly male children in the 1960s towards the 1990s. Girls, women and females were limited to household chore, neat into boxes of kitchen and mothering. Until the 21st Century, when boys, girls, men and women wear skirt, trouser and tuck in their shirts, and bore their bags.

At school, various and all kind of life exist, and there is never an equilibrium, things have always work one’s favor in one way or another. You see children come to school rough, tired, hungry and sometime unfriendly. Yet ambitious, brilliant and focus. While others come with flashy shoes, stuffed with school materials, and appeared all civilized and neat, yet reckless, non-challan, and dull. More over, the dissent in class, between, among classmates and schoolmates is terribly exciting. Students tease each other on things such as who’s more of a eater, more of a slumber, more chaste or more of the opposite. Unequivocally, unpleasant notification of hunger in frequency is annoying, and very discomforting for everyone but exceptionally especially for school going children. Fortunately, many children in rural Gambia haven’t experience much of the aforementioned, school feeding has been here since the early 1990s. Yet, few still suffer this predicament in some part of the country due to poverty and bad governance.

The uniform symbolizes uniformity and equality in the school system, hence the pupils/students are like park of wolfs, with different strength and weaknesses but the same objective. School make us accommodating, tolerant, and human enough to appreciate and treat a colleague next to equal. One among many good values school inculcate in you; is to learn to unite in our diversities. It build us into better social beings, transformers, change makers, problem solvers, and leaders. Notwithstanding, beyond uniforms live characters, morals and values. As pupils/students come from diverse communities, homes, and families. Each with their flaws, morals, beliefs and values that define us. Some are insolent, arrogant, and outspoken. Some are shy, respectful, and reserved. It was on a Wednesday morning, pupils were all in class, and the teacher walked in. He was late, and quickly apologize for been late. Suddenly, a student asked “why are you late?”. The teacher was shocked as no students has ever ask him such a question. “Well, it’s personal” he tries to be gentle, linear, and polite. “I think I deserve to know, after all is our school fees you’re being paid with, we basically pay you” the boy added. “Leave my class please, now!” The teacher asks him out, to his dismay, the student refused.

_To be continued.

Pride meets Wisdom In Glory

Pride chose to never return to school since then, and even though the committee had not decided any verdict on his case. “He just couldn’t let go of arrogance. He lacked the fortitude for humility. That is what pride does, it consumes you alive, arrogant, and made many loss it all in their endeavors”. Remarked Wisdom.

Once upon a time, there lived an old man named Wisdom in a small village called Glory. He was seventy years old. Each day during the summer, he spent his days at a school if not at the farm working. Glory was a very populated village despite its size. Every morning, people trekked to work as it was about seven hundred meters away from the main high way. Likewise school going children, except for those privileged to own bicycles, they had to woke up as early as 6:00 am to avoid being late for school. Until Glory had schools. Wisdom was a caretaker at that High School where Pride was a student. He had four children, three female and one male. His boy, the eldest is a lawyer and a state council. His other two daughters are masters degree holders and owned a charitable foundation that sponsor needy children. But Wisdom never wanted to be a lazy man, hence he refused to resign from that caretaker work where he had spent almost his entire life alongside farming. “I was not lucky to underwent conventional school, because at the time we weren’t fortunate to had schools here. Not anywhere close either. He told Pride.

The young man was sincerely shocked how eloquent wisdom spoke, and that made him listened somehow for a brief moment. “I was enrolled into a school called home and graduated at a university called the Farm.” The old man told Pride upon their encounter at the school gate when Pride came late to school and found Wisdom at the gate and it was locked. Then he called on wisdom to open it. In a very insolent manner, as he peeped through the small opened window. “Hey old man, won’t you open the gate? In fact why do you have to lock it?” This was exactly how he addressed the old man. Wisdom calmly opened the door without uttering a response to him. He again rudely entered the school without even greeting the old man, walked straight to his class and sat. All of a sudden, the class teacher entered and asked to go and kneel down in front of the class. He couldn’t imagined the magnitude of shame that he was about to be subjected to. Because, he was famous both in the school and in the entire village as brilliant, handsome and rude. On this very day, he tried to exhibit his arrogance to Wisdom. But he had wished he never did.

During break time, he came to the old man’s spot and started yelling at him, literally insulting him because he was punished for being late. Then Wisdom grabbed him by the wrist. He continued speaking, “While at Farm, each day I had learned what it means to be patient, discipline, hardworking, honest and most importantly humble. Notwithstanding, your father never go to farm, was schooled in the conventional school system but he was not only knowledgeable, he has wisdom, a humble man. Not as if he wasn’t brave or some sort but he was very respectful and patient. He was going to the market to help his father in his textile shop where his school fees was paid from.” He scolded him now and made him subdued. “And it is because of him, in as much as I felt seriously violated and disrespected right now, I cannot do anything but to advice you” he concluded. Pride tried to misbehave but he was man handled by the old man. “You know nothing about my father, old man” he responded swiftly. “If your father was just as impatient, rude and arrogant like you are apparently, he may not have even live this long to have a chap like you insulted me” Wisdom told him as he lessen the grip on him.

Intermittently, he jumped on himself and started shouting, then all of a sudden, the entire school gathered at the gate post of the school campus. It was already a scene. Pride started screaming and the old man let loose him. And he was all over the place. “I will tell this to my father, you will know who you are messing with” he ran, took his bag and left the school. In the following morning, he came to the school with his father. As the father stepped into the school gate and saw Wisdom, he ran to embrace him and both exchanged pleasantries. Then Pride realised he had screwed up big time. And thus, the beginning of another story. Wisdom was later called to the Administration to discuss the issue of the boy, Pride.

Interestingly, It turned out that the old man was the chairman of the disciplinary committee. He was a very respectable man in the community and in the school, in particular. Besides that, he was part of the pioneers of the school in Glory. Most importantly, his daughters’ foundation were sponsoring over thousand students in that school. “I am truly sorry for this gross indiscipline” said the father of Pride while addressing the meeting. He furthered asked Pride to especially apologize to Wisdom. Yet, he refused and decided to walked out of the meeting. Pride chose to never return to school since then, and even though the committee had not decided any verdict on his case. “He just couldn’t let go of arrogance, because he lacked the fortitude for humility. That is what pride does, it consumes you alive, arrogant, and made many loss it all in their endeavors”. Remarked Wisdom as the meeting ended. Thereof, Pride went to enrolled into a private school.

After four years down the line, one day, he was called to answer to a job interview. As he entered the office, he sat and waited to be called in. He dressed majestically smart as he was a handsome young man. “Next” from the receptionist, then he stood up and walked in. Before he could take his seat, one of the interviewers called him by his name. He looked up and realised it was one of his classmates – one he had an unpleasant history with. “Hi Humble, how are you man”? he greeted the interviewer. “Hi Pride, I am fine thank you. Welcome to Key Enterprise, please take a seat”. He sat down. The panel of interviewers began to introduced themselves.

Suddenly, Pride abruptly left the interview room and went straight home. “I cannot imagined, Humble is the Chief Executive Officer of that company that called me for interview earlier today, Mother.” He sat with his mother and jealously told her this. “Okay, that is a great news then, consider that job yours”. The mother responded gladly. “Mom, are you serious right now? I will never ever work under that family member, no matter what. I rather stay unemployed than work for or under Humble or anyone associated with Wisdom. Unbelievable! listen to yourself. This is the only reason you are still unemployed. It is not only about your knowledge Pride, your character too matters my son. You have always been egocentric and if you do not get rid off that trait, I’m afraid you might remain like this for a lot while than you could ever imagined.” His mother stated to him vehemently. “Maybe you needed to be told the truth about Wisdom and his family. When we first came to Glory, that old man assisted your father in several endeavors and ever asked nothing in return. His daughters even paid your school fees; from your Junior school to High school.” The mother paused and hugged him. She continued, your father’s first appointment was facilitated by him. Pride, you meet Wisdom in Glory. So get yourself together and give his family their due regard.” his mother concluded and walked out from him. “I am heading out, your sister shared the lunch and yours is on the stove, help yourself whenever you wish. See you, bye”.

The Invincible Foe: A Lethal Virus that Stroke Humanity|Covid-19

A lethal virus has stroke humanity while left us imagining our world anew. It is the world’s newest threat and most ferocious enemy – ravaging three third of the world’s population. A potent mass murderer that has claim thousands of lives, jobs and restrict normal life. As heart-rending as it sounds, global poverty is expected to increase for the first time in more than two decades. According to recent analysis from the World Bank, “about 49 million people from Sub-Sahara Africa and South Asia will be push into poverty”. These is one among legion of impacts this invincible foe has cause humanity.

An Excerpt of my Submission to the Covid-19 Short Story Competition held June/July 2020 organised by Writer Association of the Gambia (WAG) and National Center for Arts and Culture (NCAC)

For the first time in a long time, the entire world shut down for months. Approximately one hundred and sixty days, three thousand six hundred and fifty hours, twelve thousand nine hundred and sixty seconds, the world remain under lock down. Businesses halt, normal life interrupted, economic and social activities disrupted. This is the story of an invincible foe. This foe referred to here is a virus, a highly contagious and deadly virus.  According to World Health Organisation – Regional Office for Africa, “Corona-viruses are a family of viruses that includes the common cold, SARS and MERS. The most recent outbreak involves a new strain that previously had not been identified in humans”. The emergence and spread of this virus is unprecedented and quite catastrophic. The first case was reported to WHO Country Office in China December 2019 as a pneumonia of unknown cause detected in Wuhan. Subsequently, in 11th February 2020, they announce a name for the new corona-virus disease: COVID-19, little did we know we are face with a mortal enemy of 21st century, until 11th March, 2020 when it was declared a global pandemic.

A lethal virus has stroke humanity while left us imagining our world anew. It is the world’s newest threat and most ferocious enemy – ravaging three third of the world’s population. A potent mass murderer that has claim thousands of lives, jobs and restrict normal life. As heart-rending as it sounds, global poverty is expected to increase for the first time in more than two decades. According to recent analysis from the World Bank, “about 49 million people from Sub-Sahara Africa and South Asia will be push into poverty”. These is one among legion of impacts this invincible foe has cause humanity.

The social impacts of covid-19 goes beyond the social distancing intricacies; the restrictions has stop the economic activities of daily income earners in the informal sector. Social distancing has forced companies and job industries to embrace virtual working spaces; working remotely from home. Meanwhile, it close schools, football fields and markets.

Furthermore, it has triggered economic crisis and financial fall-outs across the globe. Since the onset of the pandemic, thousands of jobs are lost, unemployment escalates – especially in the informal sectors. While thousands are ask to work from home or shift duties at work in observance of social and physical distancing, informal workers are left in dilemma in a debacle. According to International Labour Organisation, “about 1.6 billion workers have suffered massive damage to their ability to earn a living”. In hindsight, just as covid-19 attack populations, so does it to the economy. Job industries such as tourism, airlines and hotels are the most affected, as they’re left are at a standstill for more than three months. Economists and analysts have argued that, the world could be witnessing the greatest financial depression since 2008.

More disturbingly, food insecurity has threatened third world countries if the lock down is not ease for economic activities. World Food Program (WFP) has warn global leaders, that 2020 would bring the “worst humanitarian crisis since world war two” as already, an estimated 135 million people face starvation globally. In Gambia, food scarcity is expected to ensue if the lock down continues without stimulus packages for consumers, especially those in the informal sectors. This invincible foe has affect lives and livelihoods unimaginably, thus, humanity and the world in general, may never be same again.