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From primary to tertiary: My recollections (II)

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BY Dapo Thomas

Two years after enjoying the magnanimity of what the school authorities called “PROMOTED ON-TRIAL”, I never cared to find out what it meant. That’s their problem- promotion is promotion. All the same, I was curious to know the meaning. I wanted to find out if I was entitled to the gifts given to those that passed. I wanted to know why my name was not on the list of gift beneficiaries after all, promotion is promotion.

So, when I got home that day, Iya Ibadan was sleeping. The joy of being promoted (on- trial again) overwhelmed me that I had to wake her up just to give her the “Good News”. Iya Ibadan was very elated that her great-grandson was on the upward movement to becoming a community scholar.

I didn’t know I was courting trouble when I suggested to Iya Ibadan in Yoruba: “ṣe kí nlo pe Alfa wa?”. She wondered what for but she consented. Immediately, I gallivanted with evident triumphalism to Alfa Ligali’s house at Oyerokun Street I was so excited that, for now and for once, GOD had given me victory over one of my celebrated enemies. Not only that; he was going to join in the celebration of my promotion. There is nothing that gives one joy than being celebrated by your adversary. We didn’t go to my house together. He said he would come after his lunch.

On my way back, I can’t really recollect the number of people I told about my promotion. I had become an agbolé celebrity because of this ‘prestigious promotion’. Some of them even thought mine was special because of the “on-trial” phrase. Most people did not even know the meaning. (I will tell you more on this shortly).

Needless to add, the entire community was agog with joy for me as if that was the first time I was being promoted. At least, I have had two remarkable promotions, from Primary one to primary two and from primary two to primary three. Progress is progress. Merited progress is not different from celestial progress. Advancement is advancement.

When Alfa Ligali arrived, Iya Ibadan gave him my report card to admire or to scrutinize. Alfa Ligali opened it and he instantly opened his mouth simultaneously. I froze in fear thinking Alfa Ligali saw what myself and my team of “On-Trial” inheritors did to the report card. After receiving the report card, Bidemi Humber, Gbaike his cousin, Yinusa Lawal and my humble self went to a corner of the school to clean off the “On-trial” phrase, after all, promotion is promotion. But from Alfa Ligali’s exclamation, he saw something else: “Biro pupa se wa pọ ninu report re bayi Dapo?”. It was true. Almost all my marks were recorded in red ink indicating that there was something awkward between the red ink dominance and the overall remarks-PROMOTED (Remember that “we” had dealt with the “on-trial” phrase with clinical excellence). Well, Alfa Ligali should know that GOD works in mysterious ways. The way GOD works is a puzzle.

In all of this inquisition, my mind was clear that my promotion was not my invention. The Headmaster announced it with contempt (that’s his problem) in the assembly. I gave a victory smile when Alfa Ligali told my great-grandmother “e ku orire iya wa”. What followed next was so disturbing that the joy of promotion vanished unceremoniously. The previous night, I had a terrible dream in which I was being pursued by an army of “Ara orun kenke” (egungun masquerade). It was so frightening that I didn’t waste time to relate it to iya Ibadan when I woke up.

After the discussion on the report card, my great-grandmother now told Alfa Ligali about the dream. His immediate reaction was, as usual, in Yoruba: “Iṣẹ awọn aye niyen iya wa. Gbere la o sin fun”. I could see that it was always commercially profitable and professionally convenient for Alfa Ligali to always attribute every semblance of evil to the machination of one’s adversary knowing that it would be rewarding for him monetarily in the long run. He never bothered about me, the unfortunate recipient of his commercialized lacerations whether on the head or the face. Nor did he ever give me a single sweet in his entire life for my unsolicitous assistance in the expansion of his blade business as neighbours now patronized him seeing that his incisions were working for me.

For GOD’s sake, how could a cleric turn me to a “software” souvenir for the gods all because he had a gullible customer that did not want her great-grandson to die in his infancy? Why should a cleric decide to re-configure a creation of GOD that has been fearfully and wonderfully made by subjecting me to NACET(OUS) tyranny any time there was a negative development around me. Is life only about positive developments? Are dreams, hair-raising or soothing, not part of human activities? Did Alfa Ligali think that the NACET blade was made for such a fetish enterprise? I don’t understand why a man of GOD should be moving about the neighbourhood with scalpels of blood, terrorizing innocent children with gbere materials neatly packaged in a black cellophane bag which he tucked in his armpit with alfaric arrogance.

Why should a man choose lacerations of humans as a means of livelihood? No wonder every child in the neighbourhood, obedient or disobedient, ran away from him anytime they saw him around. Nobody wanted to attend his Ile-kewu because of his tarnished personality and fetish persona. But I showed him pepper during his next “gbere ceremony” for me that he had to call me Abiku. (To be continued).

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