Here I was in year four, I dropped my pinafore already and I resumed in skirts, it was exciting, I was fatter and skirt fitted me more, I continued in ‘D’ class but had to part with some friends. Now in S.S.1, a new level of maturity set in, so I dropped the dirty and I-don’t-care Attitude of junior days. I also decided to be responsible for a junior student, so I got a school daughter. Did I forget to mention the responsibility that came with being an S.S.1 student? I was allocated to the Toilet for morning duty, I tried my best to shy away from it, but it didn’t work. Fourth year went so fast and I couldn’t wait to get to the fifth year.
I resumed school with smiles in my fifth year. ‘Yes, as a semi-finalist student’ (just like I put it on my exercise books), now I got to a level where I could show some seniority *winks* (you get what I’m saying). However, that year (precisely in the third term), my hopes were dashed; I lost my mum and the excitement disappeared along the line. The rest of my fifth year wasn’t that interesting. Oh, an highlight was the eclipse of the sun that took place, it was so exciting as we students watched it happen live. My friends tried to make the remaining part of the school year fun though.
I resumed 6th year with some level of excitement (being in my final year was a compensation for the loss I experienced in the previous year). The year was just so interesting, I remember getting engaged with this ‘penpalism’ of a thing, it was exciting and a means of distraction from my sorrows. I made newer friends in the junior class, I got so close to a lady with the whole FEGGO syndrome thingy called ‘itchulizing’. The parting gifts part of year six was just so interesting, a lot of gifts received and a whole lot given out. Rushing to the dining-hall was no longer the norm, a full-fledged lady was emerging and some excesses had to be curbed, such as putting-on Dunlop slippers, wearing rumpled house-wear and church-white etc
A lot of things remembered that can’t be put down, a lot of memories, lots of mixed feelings, lots of tears, lots of laughter with dorm-mates and classmates, lots of fights at the tap-area, lots of bad-dress days and so on.
It was in January 2002, all relatives and friends were so happy that I got admission into a Federal Secondary School (Federal Schools were most sought after by parents back then). The night before my resumption I couldn’t sleep, I was just so excited about my new school (having done my first term in a state school in Ibadan), I had a lot of dreams about the new school, had a lot of imaginations, strategies and plans. One would have thought I was going to school outside the country.
My mum and I arrived at the prestigious Federal Government girls’ College, Owinni hills and behold it was a very big school, a school built on the hills in a serene environment, a sight to behold, very green and it was just one place I couldn’t wait to tell my brothers about back home.
We went to the Administrative block of my new school to find our way through to my new hostel. There at the Administrative block, I got a Guardian and my mum said “Faith, this is your new mummy” then I gave her this very annoying look like ‘hey mum, ain’t having a new mum here’. I got the black house, sarcastically my mum responded.
We got to Olori House (being the newest hostel as at that year), during the siesta period, and the matron put me in Dorm 6 where I got the neatest senior as my bunk-mate and the journey began. Well before my mum left, she made sure I wore my black checked house wear and she made this very sarcastic statement ‘omo dudu ni nu hostel alasho dudu’ (meaning black girl in the hostel with the black colour of cloth). I climbed the bunk in her presence just to ensure that I could find my way to bed in her absence (then I think so she could go back and tell my brothers how her short girl climbed the bunk). It was time for her to leave and I wept bitterly, it felt like I was not going to see her again.
Prep time came and I journeyed to class in my big black checked house wear with my name written boldly with yellow emulsion paint on both sides, I got to ‘D’ class with my new bunk-mate and she helped me get notes from the students that had resumed before me and I started copying notes. The following day, I was introduced to the class teacher as the ‘new girl’. It was time for break and I was expecting that we will be called to the dining room for break-time food (my imagination about the school), but no, each student had to find her way to the tuck-shop to get snacks. My first time at the tuck-shop was so funny and hilarious. After I bought everything to eat, I missed my way, I kept going back and forth looking like a JJC (well, I was one that time) and I landed at the staff quarters.
Days and weeks passed by and I adapted to the early ‘momo’ joggings, the rush for bath space, the rush to dining, the rush to class, the hustle at the tuck-shop (my tiny stature helped me survive the ‘fanyogo’ hustle), the rush for lunch, the rush to do little laundry before siesta starts, the rush to class for afternoon prep, the rush for dinner and the rush to get back to the hostel at night to be able to do meaningful things before lights out.
It was the next visiting day and my brothers and parents were around to see me, ohhhh, I put on the newest of my big house-wear, I couldn’t wait to tell them what hostel life has been like, I just kept telling them about the whole school activities, how seniors used to shout “a junior girl”, and how we all responded and a whole lot of things. My brother made a statement that day ‘but they said a junior girl, how will all the junior girls go, is it that you don’t understand English?’. It was time for them to leave and I wept again (don’t mind me I cry a lot and I hate to part with people). I decided to try what my brother said about the ‘a’ in the seniors’ call for junior students and when next (the following day) a junior girl was called, I didn’t respond and I got a punishment in return.
Fast forward, I got into the second year and this time, my parents felt I was getting used to the life and the weekly visits stopped, I only saw them on visiting days. Second year in FEGGO was so awesome, thanks to my new found school mothers (just a year above me), they did everything for me, washed the clothes, and did the fetching and a whole lot more. Something happened in my year two that had to do with our imaginations, some of my classmates and I thought we saw ghosts one night like that, and it was a very fearful experience and we prayed like our lives depended on that night’s prayers.
Year 3 came and my school mothers didn’t resume with us, then it dawned on me what it was to be a junior student. It was smooth to an extent at least now I had juniors calling me ‘Senior Faith’. Now, I was able to go home and come back to school on my own. The extension part of my third year was the most interesting, where we used iron to make vegetable in the hostel (*looking around*, did I just say we cooked? *covers mouth*)……. Hmmmmh, we broke the rules.
*JJC (Johnny Just Come): Newbie, recent arrival, naive newcomer.
*Early momo: FEGGO slang for early morning.
TO BE CONTINUED>>>
Thank you for reading!
PS: The writer Faith, my good friend back in Junior days, also graduated with the Class of 2007. I remember some of the escapades we had as junior students (back of dining-hall things…lol) together with a 3rd Friend, Toyin. These two were like God-sent angels to me, when I was chronically starving in my SS1 3rd term. Merci, mes amis! I’ll feature the rest of her story soon.
It was Friday evening; I had just completed my portion of weeding the grass behind our hostel for the weekly manual labor. I decided to maximize the 40 minutes or so before dinner, so I took out my school uniform and socks and began to wash. I’d barely finished rinsing the items when the “Clarion Call” came. “A Junior Girl! A Junior Girl!!” Senior Damilola shouted from her corner.
I dropped my wet socks on my locker and ran inside the dorm along with 5 other junior students trying to beat each other to it. We unceremoniously formed a queue of six in front of Senior Damilola’s bunk; I was the 4th on the queue. The idea was that the last person got the toughest task while the first got the easiest.
Starting from the rear, she said “Chioma, take my shirt and socks, wash and bring them back when they are dry.”
The next person got her house-wear and skirt to wash. Then it was my turn. “Eunice, quickly go to Emotan house dorm 6, ask for Sade Oke, tell her to give you my Geography note.” Of course my face dropped, I was hoping for a milder task, one that didn’t involve leaving the hostel because I had unfinished laundry to attend to.
“Are you mad? Are you stupid? Who do you think you’re “boning” (frowning) for? In short, kneel down and fly your arms.” She said with a hiss. Then she called to the next girl, “Kemi, you go to Emotan house for me jaare.”
(Photo credit: Web)
… … …
Well, that was how life was for junior girls in FEGGO. It felt like we were always at the mercy of our seniors, and their wish was our command. Most senior students lived as nobles, while we juniors served as peasants. We had to perform all sorts of tasks ranging from sweeping to ironing, washing, scrubbing, making their beds, getting water, going to the tuck-shop etc
Although significant measures were taken by the school authorities to combat bullying, some form of it still existed. Thankfully, I wasn’t much of a victim.
I particularly detested being asked to get water, especially when there was water scarcity. Fortunately, Tinubu house where I was, had running water most of the time. I still recall those nights when we’d be asked to “donate” one or two or three bathing bowls of water for one senior or the other. I don’t know how other junior students felt, but to me it was outrageous. On some of such occasions, I would disappear from the dorm indefinitely and return whenever the coast was clear.
How can I forget occasions when students had to “suck” water from the tap-heads in front of the dining-hall? Although gross, it was all part of our need for survival. The other option was to use our fingers to bring out the water but that wasn’t always as productive, plus having one or more sore fingers wasn’t fun.
Then “tapping” of water was common too. “Who tapped my water?” was a cry heard in the hostel everyday. Put a full bucket of water in front of your bunk and step out of the dorm for a few minutes, you’d be lucky to find half of its content on your return. Some Feggosians would say “Tapping is a game, but when caught…it’s stealing.” And so some students habitually tapped biros, pencils, cutlery etc We sha now know that stealing is stealing!
(Photo credit: Web)
Morning duties were also part of our daily activities in Feggo. Each student had a specific chore to carry-out every morning. Only SS3 students were exempted. At the beginning of each new term, the House-Captain and her Assistant would draw a Morning Duties Roster. It was usually something like this:
Here are some of the duties I was assigned during my time: dusting the louvers, sweeping the court-yard, cleaning the box-room, washing the gutter, sweeping the dorm and the most horrible of all chores,washing the toilet. Being a toilet-worker wasn’t only gross; it also came with frequent punishments and flogging. Thankfully, I survived.
The journey I’m about to take you through, commenced some 15 years ago. The story won’t be complete if I don’t chip in some of the events that occurred prior to my attending Federal Government Girls’ College Oyo (FEGGO for short).
(Photo Credit: Tomisin Ayelaagbe)
I was in Primary 6 and the common entrance exams were just around the corner. It was with high expectations that I anticipated life in secondary school. Back then, my Parents had this idea that Federal Unity Schools were the best. And one way or the other, my siblings and I had to pass through that system. My mom attended Federal Government Girls’ College Bakori (now Katsina state). And my sister and I went to Federal Government Girls’ Colleges Akure and Oyo, respectively. My brother on the other hand attended Federal Government College, Ikole-Ekiti.
Towards the end of my stay in primary school, my parents had decided that I was to attend Federal Government Girls’ College, Ipetumodu in Osun state. The school is just about an hour’s drive from the outskirts of Ibadan where we live, so it made practical sense.
However, it so happened that on the day the Common Entrance forms were distributed in class, I came up with a different idea. My best friend Toyin, along with a number of other girls put in Federal Government Girls’ College Oyo as their 1st School of Choice, and so I followed suit. Interestingly, I didn’t inform my parents about the change I made.
In those days, it was customary to interview all applicants into Federal Government Colleges. Because we were resident in Ibadan, my interview centre was Federal Government Girls’ College Oyo. After having a rethink I guess, on getting to the interview, I indicated Federal Government Girls’ College Ipetumodu as my 1st School of choice. Few weeks later, I was given an admission based on merit. To my dad, that was a big deal.
On the day of resumption, my parents took me to the school-Federal Government Girls’ College Ipetumodu, only to be told at the gate that the resumption date had been postponed, so we returned home. On coming back the following week, lo and behold a new list of admitted students was out and my name wasn’t there. The scene was full of commotion and confusion. To say we were disappointed would be an understatement. The major thought on my mind was the explanation I was going to give everyone who knew I had left for school. What a shame. We returned home eventually and I wonder how my parents really felt. Surprisingly that evening, Toyin’s mum came to our house to inform us that my name was on the Admission list at Federal Government Girls’ College Oyo. The interview results had been canceled. I can’t exactly recall how I explained the mix-up about my choice of school to my parents.
My mum went by the school some days later, to confirm my admission and explain the previous admission offer I had. Since I had all my house-wears sown in pink, I was put in Tinubu House. I eventually resumed some days later and the amazing journey of 6 years began.