I walked into the empty dining hall and i could hardly see a grain of rice on the table. Baba Alfa had already done his duties of cleaning the tables and clearing the hall of the regular mess.
No. I had my doubts and beliefs that there was still to be lunch that Sunday afternoon. Noone misses Sunday lunch unless on visiting days or act of God. Jollof rice with beef, the regular menu. Alas, i saw a grain of jollof rice. My shoulders sloped as reality slapped me.
It was my first major assembly hall gathering other than the regular Friday/Monday morning assemblies and in all naivety I went for the Valedictory service. Chased like cattles, room heads, officials and captains – or were they acting then – I made my way to the hall with so much expectation putting on my white and green cotton shorts. I didn’t even know the meaning of Valedictory.
The hall was filled with various classes of people – Students, Staffs, Parents and another set with a unique dress style, later to be identified as the recently graduated set. This was the 1st term of the 1998/99 academic session. I knew no member of the set being celebrated. I was just a new boy.
As usual, the junior boys and girls occupied the terrace of the assembly hall using their pinafores and shorts to attain sanitary status for the dusty floors. The two entrances were manned by two officials who later sneaked away as the program wore on. The few senior students occupied two rows downstairs but had the luxury of roaming about exchanging pleasantries with the celebrated set.
I really didn’t understand what the service was about but one thing was sure I was hungry. Time was ticking away and no food yet in the assembly hall. I can’t remember how the service ended but I remember heading to the dining hall.
I was disappointed. I was hurt. I could imagine how Baba Alfa swooped his multi – purpose broom, clearing the table and sweeping the floor, cursing along and chewing his legendary syick with a no-smile face. He may have thrown his broom like a javelin to a boy who refused to leave the hall after the massacre.
Yes, there was a massacre as reported. Those that missed the Valedictory service were hungry and became impatient. Their impatience grew in leaps and bounds. No official was available. One thing led to the other and pots were opened and the infamous massacre began.
Pot covers landed on the floor creating a massacre rythm – jaga-jaga, buckets surfaced from beneath tables, boys were doing effective mass transfer and taking off in various direction out of the hall. Those that had no buckets took off their shirts and used them as bags for carrying the jollof rice away to a comfortable place. Others used polythene bags while a few carried the pots along.
It was sad. Playing the scene in my head was enough for me to proclaim that “I will never go for any Valedictory service in FEGO again”. I kept to those words till i left.
Thank God i had a good supply of zape. I zaped away my grievances and sorrow, cursing the officials that enforced our attendance. I smiled and congratulated those that enjoyed the Massacre.
That was the beginning of many massacres and as for Valedictory service – Never.
Do you remember that day? Share your experience.
By Chibuzor Amos (@AmosCP)
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