How You Became Gainfully Unemployed

Hello people!! Welcome to today’s post on The Graduate Monologues.

I missed putting up posts here! But…. *drum roll* we’re back!

Today, @ifemmanuel will be doing the talking. He takes us through his post-school life, wielding the sword of prose, deftly striking us where it hurts most. I hope you guys recover- I’m still reeling…

Enjoy!

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>             Where do you want to work after school?

At fifteen, your dad arranges for you to work as an apprentice to a mechanic. A workshop is chosen on the roadside in Apake, Ogbomoso and a start date is set. You dad gives you a stained overall that smells of camphor to use as work cloth. The night before the start of your apprenticeship, your mother walks into the house with a scowl on her face.

“My first son will not work as a roadside mechanic.”

You bend to her will, despite the fact that you want it and think you’ll learn a lot from the experience. You do not question motherhood logic.
You start work at a pharmacy instead, dusting shelves, cramming drug brand names and working as a cashier. You leave the pharmacy after three months and start to sell phones. You go on to work in a factory and intern in one of the country’s top engineering firms. In school, you design magazines and posters as a hobby. Working is not a problem for you. It’s always been a matter of choice between options.

Then you graduate.

>              What will you do after service?

You think of NYSC as a waste of time, although, to be fair, it serves as a gap year that gives folks who are clueless about the direction they’re heading an opportunity to align their rudderless lives. For you, it is going to be a time to recharge and prepare for life as an adult. A month before leaving for Anambra, you travel to Lagos to meet your former employers to enquire about work.

“Hey man, don’t worry. Just drop your CV with the HR manager and come back once you’re done with service. We’ll have a place for you”.

Three months before the end of the service year, you return to the office. The air is still as cold as it used to be. There are well-dressed bodies in white cubicles, bent over black HP screens. One of them looks up, smiles and offers a handshake.
“Welcome. Are you done with service? It would be good to have you back.”
You used to be a whiz kid as an intern.

You see new faces—lots of new faces—in the cubicles as you walk to the office of the managing partner in charge of recruitment.
“Are you done with service now?”
“No, I’m not. But I’ll be done in three months.”
“I’m sure you saw a number of new faces in the office”
“Yes I did.”
“See, we’re careful about taking in more people now, because of the elections coming up next year. But do come back once you’re done. We’ll see what we can do.”

March, April, May… five months after service and you’re still waiting to see what they can do.

This is one of the first lessons life as a graduate teaches you: learn to search, ask and wait; and never put your career eggs in one corporate basket.

>             What are you doing now?

At the start of your service year, you begin to write as a way of making sense of the changes around you. Some of the writing finds their way online and friends like it.

“You’re good at this”, they say.
You decide to make learning the craft of writing one of your goals for the year. In the process, you rediscover your love for literary fiction. You also take Stephen King’s write-a-thousand-words-daily advice. In a land so different from home and among strangers who speak a strange language, your love for the written word blossoms. You learn that, in writing, you are a late bloomer, so you read a little more and write a little more every day.
“I’ll like to write something and probably get it published”, you tell an elderly person who wants to know your future writing goals.
“But isn’t that just a hobby?” he says.
This makes you stop talking to people about your writing.

Writing is still your way of making sense of the world around you, but sometimes, the desire to put words on paper starts to feel like the death of you. Well, it’s now the death of your bank account; after five months of focusing on writing more than your search for a well-paying job.

>             Where are you now?

You never share details of your life on Twitter. It is where you spend the bulk of your unproductive days, but they are a strange lot. They all graduate and fly out of their parent’s nest into an exciting independent life. Living alone is expensive, as you soon learn. You eat two meals a day and almost never leave your table, but even that life costs a lot of money. Your family lives in three cities, so you’ve chosen a place where you’re always alone on weekends. It’s perfect for brooding over your under-achieving self. Your parents don’t mind. If they had their way, you’d spend the weekends—and every other day—with them.

You now believe anyone who graduates and returns to his father’s house will always be a failure. This is what ideas and opinions like the ones bandied on Twitter do to you. They are like venom. You can try to resist their influence, but they work their way through your psyche, poisoning your mind, killing your innocence and tainting your decisions.

>             What is happening to you?

Your friends have made it their duty to keep tabs on you. At moments when you question your intellect, they’ve remind you of how smart you used to be, how smart you still are. With them you can be open, sincere, yourself.

“So, what’s up with you?”
“Honestly, I don’t know.”

Sometime in May, you read Coetzee’s Disgrace and Plath’s Bell Jar, in that order, in three days, part of a week when you do not even open the blinds. You start to stare at a dark place when, out of nowhere, one of your friends calls you. You hesitate and let the phone ring twice before picking up. She is worried. It is like telepathy.

“Perhaps writing is bad for you” she says.

You agree with her and decide to take a break. You go out, meet old friends, watch movies and smile a little. You feel better at the end of the week. You realise, once again, that friendships are the greatest form of love.

>             Are you back for your masters?

When people see you in Ibadan, they ask if you’re back for your masters.

“The contract I signed with UI is non-renewable” you reply.

Graduate studies have become a way to lessen the effect of unemployment and you think it’s a silly development. During your service year, you lost the desire to school abroad because GRE was cancelled in the country.

You have now changed your mind about graduate studies.

Within an hour of paying for TOEFL, you meet a dude who wants to apply for an MFA in creative writing and another girl who has UK visa issues. “UK people dey fuck up” she texts to her friend on BBM. Everyone wants to escape from the filth that is Nigeria.
You talk about your new found verve for academics with a friend and she says, “This is the you I used to know”. Yeah, this is the you you used to know too.

>             Who are you?

Employment is not your greatest problem after graduation. You even turn down a few offers. Your problem is finding a definition for yourself.
Sometimes you think about people who don’t believe in God. They must have it tough in life. At moments when things stop making sense, closing the eyes and saying a word of prayer is your saving grace. Of all the things you are, being a follower of Christ seems to be the only constant—the centre that holds the falling parts together. You still can’t answer the question of identity without tripping over words, but you’ve become deft at answering the other questions people ask you.

“What is happening to you?”
You start to talk about your migraines, ulcer and other aspects of your fragile, ajebota health.
“What are you doing now?”
“Eating, sleeping and waking up”
“Where are you?”
“In my father’s house”
“What about work?”

The answer to that used to be a rambling story; now it’s simple: you’re a gainfully unemployed graduate.

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You see! Did I not tell you? You haven’t recovered yet, right? Please I want to know, leave your replies and feelings in the Comments section below. I’m sure you had such fun reading this piece, you just want to follow our blog, to do so, click on the Follow/Subscribe buttons (so you won’t miss any post) 

The writer, Nihinlola IfeOluwa has a degree in civil engineering, spends his time reading and trying to write. Read more of his work on ifenihinlola.wordpress.com

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Faith’s Tale.

Good day, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to today’s post on The Graduate Monologues.

We are sorry that we had to take a break. You see, there’s this thing called adulthood and it’s one heck of a scam, but it places unique demands on its members. One of such demands is this thing known as a job, and another is called responsibilities. Together, they have a way of taking one’s time so much that one cannot run the blog one loves the way one wants to.

Forgive us. We are back with what is quite the sizzler.

In today’s post, we will be exploring the theme REGRETS AND LESSONS.

Have you ever looked back with regret at something you did? Do you ever feel embarrassed at your naivete and immaturity? Do you later connect the dots and realize how much said experience has affected you and made you grow?

Today’s post was written by the amazing Faith*. I have known her for 4 years, and she is one of my best friends. I’m honoured she chose to participate, although she constantly refutes all claims that she is a writer.

It is a true life story, and is presented as is. Other than formatting and other minor corrections, this post has been unedited. You will understand why as you go along.

Due to the sensitivity and extremely personal nature of the issue being discussed, I beg you to be moderate in your comments. Feel free to address the issues raised, but please, do not attack the author. Whether you agree with or you condemn her, please be moderate. The last thing she wants is a bitter attack on her person.

Thank you

Enjoy.

*Faith: may or may not be her real name.
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When Tolu suggested the graduates monologues idea to me I was excited, even more so when he said I could participate and write something.

5years is a long time to be in a place, you learn so much and the experiences are vast. I have a million and one things I could write about but couldn’t pick one. But when I went back to school for the last time I decided it was time I made peace with some of my demons, and this platform afforded me the opportunity to do so.

I did so many things in my life at university, some good and others bad but the worst was…can’t even bring myself to say it, lol…well it was having an abortion. I’m not gonna justify my actions- all I know is that one single decision changed my life forever. I thank God I’m done with school and whereas my family and friends are mighty proud of me I ask myself “would they feel the same way if they knew the price I paid to be here?” I doubt that very much.

I had the choice, I could either keep the pregnancy and get kicked out of school (it was that kind of a school, religious and strict) or I could “get rid of it”. I chose what I thought was the “easy option”. I murdered my unborn baby, at just 6 weeks. I don’t even know if it was a girl or a boy, I’ll forever wonder.

I remember the day I had the operation done, far away from school and anyone who might recognize us (the baby daddy and I). He was supportive of my decision to terminate the pregnancy probably because it was convenient for him too. When I said I’d not keep the baby I literally saw a little skip of joy in his eyes, without any protests he arranged the whole operation with the “doctor”. On our meager student funds, we took the best deal we got.

The day before was the worst day of my life. I tossed and turned all night, couldn’t not able to get any sleep. I woke up early the following day and my accomplice and I took the 3 hour journey to the “doctor”.

In a tiny, poorly lit room, I lay down butt naked on a rickety old bench. I could hear the footsteps of my accomplice in the next room as he paced up and down, probably willing the whole nightmare to end. The “doctor” prepared his menacing looking instruments with alcohol and the stench of it filled the room. My heart was pounding fast and sweat literally poured out of me. The reality of what I was about to do hit me hard and I started sobbing, I didn’t know if I had the strength to go through with it.

The “doctor” called in my boyfriend, and admonished him to persuade me, and stop wasting his time. My boyfriend restocked my resolve and reiterated what at the time was the best reason why I had to for getting rid of “it”: I’d get kicked out of school, I’d bring shame upon my family, we were both not ready to be parents because we were “too young”, etc. He went on and on until finally, my resolve restored, we called in the “doctor”.

He came in and gave me an anaesthetic and told me I wouldn’t feel any pain. I had hoped he’d give me something that would knock me out but he said that would be dangerous.

And so the operation began. I watched as he spread my legs and inserted a cold metal object inside me, with another sharp object he started poking at my insides. I have never known any physical pain greater than that, it was painful and cold. He kept at it for what felt to me like hours, but apparently it was just under ten minutes. The pain was too much to bear and I simply passed out. A couple of hours later I came to, covered in a thin clean but old and stained little bed sheet.

It was hot outside but I felt cold, I was shivering and sweating all at once. The “doctor” came in and reassured me that it was a “success” and I had nothing to worry about. He showed me a thin long glass tube that contained the remains of what would have been my baby.

That was the worst thing I’d ever seen, and a part of me died that day. I could not even cry. I just got up got dressed and uncomfortably limped out of the room.

What had I done? I realized that while my action was most convenient, it was probably the worst decision I could have made. It was selfish and cowardly but mostly more shameful than if I’d chosen to keep the baby.

Things like that change you. I went back to campus with the problem solved but with me sad and ashamed. I went through the motions for the next few years of my life. I was the same happy go lucky, life-of of-the the-party kind of girl but it was all a lie. I had to fit in and act like all was well, but it wasn’t. I walked around with a huge load of guilt and shame that I could not explain to anyone, not even my accomplice. In fact he and I broke up shortly after because we could no longer be together, he was the only one who knew what I’d done and I could not deal with that. Every time I was around him I felt judged and the shame and guilt just made it hard. We broke up and when he completed school (he was a senior), boy was I glad! I thought that would make it better but it didn’t; I still had to live with myself knowing what I’d done.

I’ve had a million and one conversations with myself about my actions that day. Were they really worth it? I still can’t bring myself to believe that was the best decision ever, but it was the decision I’d made and it brought me this far. Should I be proud, happy, sad? I don’t know what to feel. All I know is that no day ever goes by without me thinking of that little person I terribly wronged. Would it have been a little girl with my eyes or a little boy with his charm? I’ll never know, that kills me every day and I embrace the pain it brings. I remember and still feel the pain I experienced in that tiny alcohol scented room. Sometimes I feel as though I’m holding on to that pain because it’s the only connection I have left to what could have been my baby. He/she would have been 4years now. I wonder about him/her daily and that part me will forever be in tears.

May be I’ll get the chance to see that little being one day in heaven, maybe I’ll get the chance to apologize for my actions. It would be nice, but if I never get that chance I probably deserve every inch of pain I feel for that cowardly decision I made. I could say I was young and foolish and deserve to be forgiven but I doubt that. I was selfish in the worst way possible and no reason could ever justify my actions.

If I knew then what I know now I’d probably never have made that decision but then again I probably would never have learnt to take responsibility for my actions. I probably would never have learnt to be strong and smile even when I’m crying inside. I’m not proud of what I did, but I’m grateful for the lessons.

And to my baby I’m sorry. I could have given you a chance. Losing you the way I did proved to me just how little faith I had in God who could have definitely taken care of us and it proved to me how much I cared for what people said and not what was right. I’m sorry my baby., iIf you can hear me somewhere in baby heaven please forgive me, and I hope to God to be able to apply the lessons I learned, I hope my giving up on you was not in vain.

I’d like to believe I’m older and wiser, and I’m thankful for my life in university. I did not learn these lessons in class but the varsity experience has taught me well. I know better now, and I hope to God to be a better citizen out in the world, out of varsity.

Of all the lessons I’ve learnt, the biggest I prolly learnt is that choice is a privilege that is usually free but often has costly consequences that we have to live with,I made my decision possibly the worst by far but I’ve learnt to live with it. Every time I’m faced with a choice to make I know that no matter the outcome, I’ll only have myself to thank. Or blame.

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Please leave your comments below

The Tenterhooked Dreams

Hi! 

🙂

Today’s ‘Graduate Monologues’ entry is a poem from a friend of mine, the man himself, Jones Ntaukira. A little introduction, first of all.

Jones is a Malawian blogger and social and environmental pragmatist. After busy schedules at Empower Malawi- where he is Executive Director- he still finds time to write.

 I met Jones in January 2010 in Kampala during one of the most enjoyable periods of my life. We hit it off immediately, and today, I am guaranteed a place to lay my head if ever I am stranded in Malawi.

This is a short account of some of his (school) life experiences, presented unedited.

***

 

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Once a jailbird I was

With scores of rights, with countless freedoms

Golden jubilees of full moons – give or don’t seize,

Imprisonment to degree with hard labour

Carrels were my pen

Sowkowski was my warden

The Labs my chapel

If acetic acid was our holy communion,

Then Friday Lab reports were my silver and golden offering

I learnt that reduction is actually gaining

 

Glee took over,

Seminary saintliness versus realism,

Like a keyed up electron

Like the other end of a magnetic pin

Room by room in search of love

Spoke in strange inflection, imitating those that speaketh on big screen

Learnt to intoxicate my medulla oblongata,

My lectures about life in the red light district

Saying…‘come kiss me if you can’

Of the campus beauty and the brains, no mention

Still 4-nil the match was lost

 

Clock by clock days hide by the gate

The pardon came as a matter of fate

Full of oomph to face the wild

Before realising my graduation shoe no longer needs polish,

Little ones already decorated me Uncle

Frustrations fissioning like uranium particles

Next thing she is whispering the ‘good’ news- she is heavy with child

Phone ever silent as a chicken incubating its eggs

And yet the postmaster knows me by nomenclatus

 

I’m my own lead

On my own drive, on this pool road

With only one post, a danger warning sign

“Welcome to the world

Where pure agony is…,

Realising dog eats dog

*******

wpid-img_20140815_152136.jpg

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If you liked the poem or you have anything to add, please leave  your comments below. 

You can get in touch with Jones on Twitter (@realjonz), on Instagram (@j1s_cn) or on Facebook (Jones Ntaukira). He talks about the environment, life in Malawi and his other passions on his personal blog www.environgentia.wordpress.com

See you next week!

Transitions

Kaud Mund (@kaudresi). 

Kaud is a Ugandan doctor and an awesome friend, one person with whom I have honest, open conversations. I met her for the first time in January 2010 in Kampala, Uganda. She doesn’t know this yet, but I’m planning another meeting, and soon.

In this post, in the typically concise fashion of a busy doctor, she talks about the hustle and pressures of professional life, love and heartbreak, and the importance of vacations.

N.B. this post was initially written in late 2012.

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Lying about one meter behind me on a brown, ragged mattress was a young man of teenage age. Charred flesh hung in tatters off his chest, and from his arm, blood dripped out, mixed with a thin yellowish fluid. His incoherent mumbling and incessant tugging on my coat distracted me as I tried to stitch up the scalp of my patient, a female accident victim brought in by good Samaritans. The shouting and commotion in the hallway didn’t help, and I couldn’t wait for the day to be over.

Our days as interns included 48 hour work shifts, being pushed around by nurses, and frequent running around in search of test results, blood, drugs, etc. Combined with us averaging one meal a day and very little free time, we didn’t need to visit a gym to keep in shape. Sometimes I wondered if I went through the rigours of medical school to get abused by cleaners, treated with undisguised contempt by lab attendants, and be bullied and intimidated by Senior House Officers. Sometimes it simply got too much.

In spite of these, there were some good times. Nothing beats the satisfaction of having patients coming up to you to say “thank you”, or having a  baby who was convulsing the night before greet you with a toothy smile in the morning. I lived for the moments when a boy who had been in a coma for three weeks woke up, and for the smile on a mother’s face on seeing her new baby. I could go on and on: the joy and relief of a man paralysed on his left side being able to walk again, the light in a woman’s eyes, who, after recovering from a bout of amnesia caused by cryptococal meningitis recognizes her husband. Those moments made the stress worth it, and convinced me I was on the right track.

When internship ended, my colleagues delved headfirst into their professional lives. They began the pursuit for licenses and registrations, and went searching for jobs. Not me. While they experienced the bureaucratic process and suffered through countless interviews, I took a trip to Kenya. I reckoned one long year of internship merited lying on a white sandy beach with a glass of coconut juice in my hand and the sun on my face. It was to be a thrilling, daring, reconnoitring experience. I spent a few weeks travelling around with rude people on long bus rides, eating food that appealed to all five senses, and taking matatus& that were mini discos. I shared one bed with three people, had insomniac spells, visited strip clubs, and had shopping sprees. Most importantly, I learnt about life, and had fun.

In medical school, I learnt about the heart, its structure, how it functions, and the diseases which affect it, but nowhere was I taught about Cupid and his arrows. Nobody told me about butterflies in the stomach and loss of appetite. I wish I was taught about heartbreak and irrationality. It’s something I had to learn the hard way from my experiences and that of my friends. I can only hope I have learnt enough.

I think of life as a series of transitions. It is constant and yet it is fluid. This paradox has made me realize that it is futile to try and understand life. It’s been just 5 months since the end of my internship, and already, so much has happened. Sometimes I dread to think what the next five years would bring, but I relax myself, because I know that everything happens in due course and I don’t have to figure out everything right now. It took me a while to accept that, but now I do, and I can rest easy.

Matatus: minibus or van to carry passengers. Think Danfos

****

If I were to write what I truly feel about this post, I would end up writing another blog post entirely. This resonates with me in so many different ways that it is scary. 

If you, like Kaud, worry what the future would hold or are scared of (or recovering from) heartbreak, raise your hands like this \o/ 

If you did raise up your hand, please go HERE

If you would love a vacation, go here

Thank you Kaud for this.

If you want to get to know more of Kaud, you can follow her on Facebook (Kaud Mund), or on Twitter (chuckles) at @kaudresi.

Next week will be for lovers of poetry. We will be featuring Jones. Don’t miss it. Subscribe/Follow the blog and get notifications of all new posts and upcoming events. Something big just might be happening soon.

Don’t forget to leave any comments you might have below, and share this post with friend and enemy alike.

Adios. Hasta pronto

I Remember

Ronke Adeleke (@0_tega)

Welcome to the fourth post in The Graduate Monologues.

When we graduate from school, we are filled with euphoria, and all we have playing in a loop in our heads is ‘It is over’. But what happens when that euphoria fades away? What happens when we look back and recall our days of youth?

Ronke Adeleke is a writer but is better known for her spoken word pieces. She leads us into her thoughts, so let’s take a walk with her, shall we?

 

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****

Sometimes when my busy schedule allows me to sit down and breathe, I remember a time when I had all the time to breathe, and wonder why I didn’t take all the breaths I would need.

My earliest memory of being an undergraduate is walking into the University of Ibadan campus and staring at the statue of a fresh graduate armed with degree in hand and set to race for the hills of a new life. Oddly enough, that statue is also one of the last things I remember about that school.

But I remember other things too. Vaguely, but I remember.

I remember matriculating with a navy-blue cap and gown. There weren’t many to go round in my set but I remember I got one that was rumpled. I don’t remember who I took pictures with or if I took pictures at all. Maybe I did, but I don’t remember.

I remember how Hall Week celebrations always kicked off with a carnival. Everyone got dressed in ridiculous pieces of clothing and walked around the campus till their feet hurt or bled. People danced, sang, screamed and painted their faces, having fun because it was the one time they could be silly and childish and no one would make fun of them because everyone else was doing it. I remember, don’t I?

But I don’t remember being a part of the craze; painting my face, wearing God-awful clothes and all the time having fun looking like a mascot or masquerade. I don’t remember screaming till my voice was hoarse,  or walking and dancing till I couldn’t feel my feet and all the time laughing and being laughed at.

I remember how the school environment would come alive with every big event that happened. Shows would be sold out, venues spilling over with large crowds because the program was probably free and no one wanted to miss out on free stuff.

I remember how clubs and organizations and fellowships would organize welcome parties for the ‘fresh meat’ on campus, calling it “Freshers’ Welcome” and each one of them would try to outdo the other in a desperate bid to snag the majority of the freshman population to join their fold and increase membership. I remember how these freshmen gatherings were most times adulterated with not-so-fresh sophomores and juniors only there for the refreshments.

I remember the drama presentations and film shows at the Arts Theatre and how there were people who lived for those moments to feel something thrill them besides the loud crashing of thunder outside their windows, or gist about people they didn’t even know passed along the rumour mill.

I remember, yet I don’t remember. I don’t remember getting a chill down my spine watching some enthralling Theatre Arts presentation at the Arts Theatre; I don’t even remember what the Arts Theatre looked like from the inside and the outside.

I remember how departments and faculties would come together in somber reflection and commemoration, everyone wearing black or something close to black to pay respects to a classmate, course mate or friend that had just passed away. I remember how they would all hold lit candles, the fires glittering softly in the gloom of dusk and the procession would move from the department/faculty of the deceased to the hall of residence where prayers would be said and a moment of silence would be observed in honour of the fallen comrade.

I remember how people who had no idea who the deceased was would join the procession along the way, also trying to pay their respects because to them it did not matter that they did not know who the dead was. The dead had been a student of their school and that was reason enough.

I remember the silence that pervaded the campus as exams approached and students realized that they were not prepared for whatever questions their lecturers would ask. I remember how during these times it always seemed like the whole school had moved their lives to the corners, crevices and corridors of Kenneth Dike Library, gathering at all times of the day to read, gist, cram, chew and snore.

I remember how that silence before exam was different from the silence when school was on vacation. How you could hear everything and see everything on campus because there were no longer so many people to drown out the sounds and obscure your vision.

I don’t remember what most of the entire campus looked like; the trees that had been standing for years, maybe centuries; the architecture that always left people spellbound and awed at the sight and the knowledge that they had been there for a very long time.

I don’t remember the people, or my classmates. The food vendors in various corners of the school that people always patronized, the cab drivers, lecturers and non-teaching staff in Department and Faculty offices or even the halls of residence. I don’t remember most details of the “hey days.”

Even in this hectic post-university life, sometimes I remember. I remember all that I should have felt that I never felt. I remember that the students that paid adequate attention during classes and ended up having the best grades, also ended up being snatched by multinationals and big companies with fantastic job offers. I remember that while I staggered back to my room after classes, some colleagues strode off with boyfriends and girlfriends (some are now happily married to each other while some others broke-up as a graduation gift). I remember that my classmates who joined international associations such as ANUNSA, AISEC, JCI, L & D and SIFE were always much happier and till now, have not regretted those decisions. I remember the commitment and joy with which some people spent long hours in the campus fellowships, and I remember considering them very foolish but now I know better. I remember that my friend who used to write poems and articles in freshman year ended up representing the university at several literary competitions, and was eventually offered jobs by The Guardian newspapers and Forbes Africa magazine. I also remember that her brother who spent all his Saturday mornings on the Tennis court is now gearing up to join the Nigerian Lawn Tennis team for the next Davis Cup. I remember so many things I should have done, people I should have met, books I should have read and places I should have gone. I also remember reaching a conclusion that I made many mistakes so that every young person I talk to will graduate with (many) more honours and laurels than I imagined.

As the memories gush over me in wobbled sequence and I feel the burning sensation of desire for that-which-was rush into my cheek, I acknowledge that the feelings of reminiscence would never be comparable to the bliss of fantasies that I once cherished.

But still, I remember.

 

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So what do you think? What (good or bad) do you remember of school? What do you wish you had done differently? Do you have experiences you want to share? We are eager to know, so please tell us what you think in the Comments box below.

Ronke writes on www.ronniesblog20.wordpress.com You can read more of her works there or follow her on Twitter @O_tega.

The next post  comes up on Friday, 12th, September, 2014. To avoid missing any posts, kindly subscribe to the blog by clicking the ‘Follow/Subscribe’ buttons on your screens. Thank you 🙂

Graduate Monologues

Design Credit: Ethan Obasi| @TortiObasi | Email: torti.obasi@gmail.com

 

Things I Learnt in UNILAG and Things I Didn’t

Hi guys.

Welcome!

Today, we have writing for us the (insert multiple superlatives here) Osemhen Elohor Akhibi. She’s one of my favorite writers and her writing has always touched heart and mind (she’s also one person I secretly admire, but shhhhh. Don’t tell her).

In typical Osemhen fashion, she doesn’t beat around the bush, and here, she talks of her life in the University.

Enjoy!
Graduate Monologues

Design Credit: Ethan Obasi| @TortiObasi | Email: torti.obasi@gmail.com

 

Five Things University Taught Me

1. How to learn. I have a whole blog post on how I managed to convince people I was (am?) smart, even though I don’t think I’m smarter than the average Joe. I learnt how my mind worked in university. I apply this skill at work, taking the time to sit down and plough through a stack of technical material. I work for a company with a policy of “on-the-job-learning” and being able to digest technical documents on the go is a priceless skill. In addition, all those hours spent writing lab reports in university prepared me for writing technical reports, and also taught me that researching a topic to write about it is a quick way to become an expert at it.

2. How to stay open. It’s funny, people think university life is academic, and has little to do with the practicalities of life. I think this is true to an extent, but not necessarily. As a student, I followed IEEE trends, read every novel that crossed my path, could recite the capital and currency of almost every country in the world. I was the queen of trivia. I was a sponge for every bit of information that crossed my path. These days, I have to struggle to pay attention to anything not work-related. It’s so bad that I have to schedule time in the day to read a novel, just to de-clutter my head. I fear I’m getting boring. My New Year resolution is to return to that place where I am voracious for information, no matter how irrelevant. It helped me stay balanced.

3. How to be prudent with money. I didn’t have a lot of money in school. And now that I earn, it’s hard to kick old habits. For instance, I never buy more food than I can finish. I don’t buy stuff I don’t need. Once in a while, I’ll indulge but most of the time, I save my money.

4. How to walk everywhere. I walk a lot. Even though I own a car now, I walk and use public transport about 60% of the time. I do it for exercise and I do it to stay grounded in reality. I do it to think. My thoughts are a lot clearer when I walk.

5. How to be self-confident. I went to the University of Lagos. Despite its flaws and the stereotypes, UNILAG is a good school because of the people who go there. My classmates and friends shaped me a great deal, and I like to think I was an influence on them as well. I entered university at 15; I was very impressionable and I’m glad I got good “impressions”. I learnt to be comfortable in my own skin, to be street-savvy, to bluff, to have good grades and still be able to enjoy a good party. I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world.

 

 

Four Things University Didn’t Teach Me

1. How To Use A Computer Effectively: I was in 4th year when I learned to use Microsoft Excel by myself. This is utterly unforgiveable. I wish I had been given assignments from 1st year that required me to use tools like Excel, Access and Powerpoint. I didn’t enter the job market at a disadvantage because I learned by myself quickly, but I could have easily been left behind.

2. How To Be Socially Conscious/Responsible: Volunteer work in university wasn’t emphasized, and I think for many people, it was a missed opportunity. I learned a lot from being a volunteer but I almost didn’t become one. Volunteering helps you expand your worldview beyond your tiny self-centred world, it makes you feel good giving back (or paying forward, as the case may be) and it looks damn good on your CV.

3. How To Have Rights (or opposing opinions): Let’s face it, many Nigerian universities are run like prisons. You do what you’re told; deviations attract dire consequences. There were lecturers who dictated to us how to wear our hair (my sister was banned from attending certain classes with her Afro out) on one hand, and then there were lecturers who demanded we approach questions from one angle only. A new school of thought, a new approach? God forbid. It’s something I struggle with till today, toeing the fine line between compliance to rules and thinking outside the box.

4. How to ensure a relationship doesn’t derail you. Nutshell: I wish I had stayed single all through university. My grades didn’t need the suffering. And the truth is: it was only after leaving school that I could fully appreciate what it meant to be in a relationship. Relationships requires attention and work that honestly, very few people can balance successfully with the attention and work proper to studying.

 

Whew! This was long overdue. Hope it’s worth it to someone out there.

 

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Do you have anything to add? What did university teach (or fail to teach) you? You can write your experiences as comments below.

You can learn more about Osemhen by following her Twitter handle @OsemhenA or enjoy her writings on her blog at eurekanaija.wordpress.com. You can also check out the stories she wrote for Klorofyl digital magazine (for example, “A Memory of Warri” http://t.co/0FI7GzA925 ) by downloading the free magazine or reading on the blog at klorofyl.com 

Next post comes up on Friday, 4th September, 2014 and we’ll be having @O_tega’s post then. You wouldn’t want to miss out on the awesome posts coming up, so just click the ‘Follow/Subscribe’ buttons on your screen.

Don’t forget to tell us how much you loved this post (and us) in the comment box below.

Keep being awesome!

🙂

Message To Mma

Welcome to the first post in The Graduate Monologues. If you have not read the introduction and want to find out what this series is about, go HERE

 

Today’s post is by Gustavo Iyke DeGraves. A little introduction, first of all.

God’spower Obinna Igbokwe goes by the pen name Gustavo Iyke Degraves and is a graduate of Mass Communication from the University of Maiduguri. He is primarily a poet, but has an interest in writing other genres. In December 2011, his poem ‘I Rise’ won the KorlueNow Prize for poetry in Port-Harcourt. He is currently working on publishing a collection of some of his poems-Whispers and Whistles.

He is a really good poet, and I’m rather surprised he chose the medium of prose to explore his theme. But it works, and this piece is spring-loaded with tightly-coiled emotion.

Enjoy.

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Dear Mma,

I shouldn’t be writing this letter, but I am, and I hope you read it and understand its contents. Forgive me for not starting with the traditional ‘how are you?’ I am not expecting you to reply this letter so you might as well save the response. And please do not perceive my introductory lines as meaning that I regret writing this letter; on the contrary, I am content with penning these words for your reading displeasure. It’s just that in this age of Information and Communication Technology, where everybody owns a car on the Information Superhighway, it is awkward that I should be writing you an epistle when I could be sending you short messages, e-mails, or pinging you on your BlackBerry. Well I’m sorry Mma, the words in my heart are so strong that sending them via any transient medium would shrivel them to mere fonts and emoticons- kilobytes less than a grain of the sand I gathered to build this message.

Besides, I don’t know how long it will take to finish writing this message, maybe today, or maybe not. It is our story- yours and mine- and may therefore take a long time to complete, if it ever will. But I am ready to try. I will write with every pen and pencil I can find, not minding its shade or colour. I will write with charcoal and chalk, with a marker and stylus. And when I am short of writing materials, I will use my nails- finger nails, toe nails. I may also have to break off each rib, dabbed in my sweat, blood or both, to scribble paragraphs of this message to you.

Mma, I want this message to remain with you forever. I want it to haunt you. It will follow you everywhere like a birthmark; it will muzzle and replace the tick of your timepieces- hurling stones of memories at you by the second. Those memories will wither your laughter and freeze your tears; they will cast your face in the mud of confusion.

If I could rewind time, I would take us back to that moment before you met the serpent, before things fell apart and life squirted pain in my face. You were that pain.

I was happy, Mma, before your intrusion into my life. But somebody was selfish when you came, you wanted me all to yourself. So my hangouts with Salim became as snow in summer and you stole my time so there was none to spend with Wild Kid. Big Jo became a story I could share only with myself. Your made me seem a rice field with a scarecrow in it to the women. Those who were courageous enough to keep their mirth, you threw behind bars of hate.

I should have seen the signs that said you were programmed to be my doom, but I would listen to no sane advice. You were a dream come true, and there was no need to tread with caution. I thought it was bliss.

Then you began to reveal yourself, and I knew the true colour of night. You weren’t, after all, the golden morning sun. You were the chronic night crawler and terrible addict. Remember how when I first realized, you went down on your knees to beg? You pledged your undying love and to be of good conduct. Remember how I sought to call it quits, and how you pestered me to change my mind? Against all sound reasoning, I gave you a chance to gamble with my heart. You did, and you lost.

I’m not sorry for taking a vengeful course by making out with your sister. It was expedient to soothe my wounded heart. I’m not sorry you saw us. If you think I write to apologize, you are wrong. I write to gloat.

You thought I’d be distracted and frustrated by your being so loose and eventually fail and fall to the bottom? Think again, my darling. You failed and I graduated alright.

I started writing you this letter to tell you how much I detest you now, and how I wish you a million times the pain you caused me. I want to go on and on, but I am tired, and suddenly, I realize you are not worth the effort.

Tata for now. I wish you hell.

Yours Spitefully,

Dele

 

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Did you enjoy Gustavo’s tale? If you did, you can learn more about him on his Facebook Godspower Igbokwe (Gustavo Iyke DeGraves). Don’t forget to like and comment on here too.

The next post, by @OsemhenA, comes up on Friday, 29th August, 2014. To avoid missing any post, kindly subscribe to the blog by clicking the ‘Follow/Subscribe’ buttons on your screens. Thank you 🙂

 

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Design Credit: Ethan Obasi, @TortiObasi, Email: torti.obasi@gmail.com