Onyinye OyedeleWednesday, February 5, 2014




t was about mid-morning when the driver meandered through the potholes and open drainages. Thankfully, it was not raining heavily late in November. He manoeuvred beside awkwardly parked cars, trucks, and finally found the private school tucked away in a street corner in Lekki. At least, it was not a residential building converted into a school! He approached the high tower, electric barbed wire fence, and red gate with a sign dangling, "Halogen Security."

Pom pom pom (Horn blaring)

The gate opens slightly from the pedestrian section, and a head wearing a cap pops out..... (As if they had just interrupted his nap)

Driver: "Abeg open the gate." He says, slightly winding down his window.

The security guard adjusts his cap, stiffens up and comes out dressed to interrogate and intimidate. He peers intently at the licence plate, sizes up the vehicle, and walks towards the driver's side.

Ikenna: (His name is slapped on his badge; gracing his heavily starched navy blue khaki uniform, matched with his black combat boots). "Na who you wan see"?

He asked the driver, "ignoring" his passenger. (The car is tinted....manufacturer's design)

Driver: "Madam" (He turns and looks at his passenger)

Ikenna: "Ah, good morning ma."

Madam: (Stretching her neck so that Ikenna can see her clearly) "Abeg, I want to see someone in Admin or the English Department."

Ikenna: "Please ma, do you have an appointment?"

Madam: "No, but I phoned and they said I can come and see somebody."

Ikenna: "Wait here please." (He goes in and comes out with a small writing pad for madam to fill in the visitor's slip.)

(He looks at it, satisfied, then flings open the gate into the "Royal Palace")

Madam: "Thank you, o."

(Madam has a "triumphant" smile. This is the fourth school she is visiting that day and could not have imagined appearing there in an Okada or on foot.. .... "Executive Job hunter" she thought to herself!)However, at one school, she did not go beyond the security post!

Ikenna smiled and directed them to the visitor's parking lot.

The school environment is breath taking! Very different from the "Maximum security prison" concept visitors see from outside!

....The lush green lawn, immaculate and prim buildings, a neatly lined parking lot and a well manicured garden. The Students are smartly dressed and courteous. The large expanse of land houses both the Primary and Secondary School complex, dormitories, a sport's field, and even a mini teacher's quarters.(However, The expanse of land is still not comparable to those on which Federal Government colleges are built on... those are like villages!)

Madam: (At the "Embassy" style reception draped with pictures of the President, The Queen of England and the school Principal). "Good morning. I spoke to you earlier on the phone. I am Mrs.....Please, I would like to see the Administrator or the head of the English Department to enquire about Creative Writing."

Receptionist: (A very petite and pleasant lady, dressed in a black skirt suit. She is swallowed up by the polished concierge desk.)

"Good morning ma. Oh, yes ma, I remember. Please sit down. I will give her a call." (She dials the intercom)

Receptionist: "Okay, Ma. You will come over on your way to the Lunchroom. I will inform her."

(Madam scans the environment...the elaborate Oak concierge desk, a "Cway" water dispenser standing in a corner; the waiting area is cool, classy, and comfortable)

After about 10mins....A lady walks in hurriedly. The receptionist stands up, mutters, and signals to the madam in the waiting area)

Madam: (Stands up, stretches out her hand to receive a hand shake and introduced herself and her mission). "Good morning, .........Nice to meet you too."

Administrator: "I hear you are enquiring about Creative writing, so how can I help you?"

Madam: I am visiting schools in the area and I would please like to know about your Creative Writing program. Do you have one?

Administrator: (Speaking the Queen's English....) Hmm, not exactly. It is part of the Literacy curriculum, taught along with English Language. But we do have a Literary and debating Society every Thursday. Maybe you can visit us then, see what we do, and discuss how you can help us there.

Madam: Okay. But do you have any plans of having Creative writing as a subject in future?

Administrator: "Well, not at the moment. But the English Department would handle that if we go in that direction.

(They chat for a little while about class and age groups in the school and the goals of their education style)

"It is so nice of you to drop by Mrs......., please do leave your Resume with us, we will keep in touch."

(Madam nods her head in agreement, hands her Resume and a Creative writing Coaching advert. She quickly thanks the receptionist who receives the Resume and "shoves" it into her pile)

The Administrator heads towards the hallway and they exchange goodbye pleasantries. The "Job Hunter" walks towards the car, her stomach churns with a familiar pang of "Empty Promises."She opens her door and the driver quickly snaps out of his nap!

"Welcome Ma." He blurts out, rubbing his eyes.

As he drives towards the gate, Ikenna runs to open it. Grinning and waving goodbye.

Madam: "Please, turn on the radio."

"Make una go register to vote oh. Make we choose the correct ogbonge man and the Party wey go move this country forward." The radio host on Wazobia FM chimed." And then the show faded into jingles.

Madam looked at her Magazine Directory of Private schools on the Island and ticked off number 12. Then skimmed through the next, hoping she had enough time to beat the traffic at the toll gate and beyond! Anticipating the long drive, she grabs her Tuesday Punch Newspaper and flipped to the Literary section.....

...... Watch out for "An Encounter with the Police...Olopa!"

Continued in Part 2