Garage blues – an Undergraduate tale

The day was extremely hot as was usual© in Belye. I went to the garage to resume duty. I was hungry but who cared? I had to go to my job. Wow! Sometimes I wonder if my degree was worth it after all. After having spent five academic years that were equivalent to ten years in the regular strike written dates of the Naijarian calendar. So high were my hopes then. A degree and the sky would not just be the limit but the starting point. Ten solid years of headaches and five years of academic frustrations! Four specified and mandatory years for my course and an extra jara dashed by my lecturers – haba! What had they called it then, again? Yes, spill over, that was it. I had spent a lot of money on that course. Forget my school fees; forget all the dues and the various levies imposed on us then. Forget the money for all those compulsory hand-outs (even though they had been banned). Did I just say hand-outs? Forgive me, I meant lecture notes. Strangely, they look, feel and are exactly like the hand-outs and what is more, people still buy them. Baptism was always a quick route and easy resort in this country. It reminds one of the famous story of the Reverend Father who caught his butler (abi na house boy?) eating meat on Good Friday. The Priest asked his boy why he was eating meat on that day (of all days).

“It is fish.” The accused quickly defended.

“Are you trying to say that I am blind?”

“No, Father. You see, the time wey I came here, they bin de call me Obinna. You pour water for my head and I turn to John. Na so me maself, I pour soup on top the meat head change am to fish.”

Oh yes, and so goes the story of the lecture notes. But like I said, let us forget my finances. Let us also forget the suffer-head and midnight oil burnt to pass papers and get marks which scarcely came.

I finally found my way out of school with a gentle man’s degree; a two-two or second class lower. I was very happy because as I said before, it was the beginning of a hope where I would reach beyond the stars. Naturally, after that came the job hunting saga. What boundless opportunities awaited me over there, wow! It was smiles all through for me. I guess one could see my ‘ear to ear’. The general saying I got accustomed to soon enough was “In Naijaria, everyone is a graduate”. This was obviously an indirect way of telling me that I was one of thousands with education and no job, stranded in the job market. “Notin’ for you!” That pointed out to me that the whole cramming and learning just to pass in the university was for nothing.

Oh well, I thank the Almighty for my upbringing. Growing in Warri, the most notorious acclaimed agbero town of my country had taught me a lot. The street gospel had blessed me. I am a worthy ambassador of Warri so I decided to become self employed. This did not come spontaneously though. No, did it? If you think it did, you are wrong. I chanced upon a friend who had a master’s degree and yet was a bike man, an okada man. I was shocked, thinking that the sad plight of joblessness was only for the mere degree graduates like me. He gave me his version of this ‘national anthem’. He did some preaching and I was changed. I saw the gains of self employment and that is where I am now – a conductor, a bus conductor in Belye.

© Su’eddie Agema (2010)

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