"Class of 2021, Finished 2022, Convocated 2023"

Now if you are wondering how this is possible, I can bet that you aren't a Nigerian and I would be correct. Sadly, the public educational system in Nigeria is dysfunctional so it is normal to hear stories of people spending 6 years to get a 4 year degree. Today is my convocation and I won’t deny I have been filled with the nostalgia that comes with such a memorable day like this one. As expected a lot of my friends and coursemates did not travel down for the ceremony, as we have mostly moved on and don’t see the need for embarking on this, considering the financial expenses, time consumption and security risk, especially in this “ember” period.

As much as I love to troll my University and sometimes my department, I am forever grateful for having the opportunity to pass through the four walls of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN). Now you might have wondered why I chose to go from Port Harcourt where I grew up, to school at a place I have never been. I did this for three reasons and I will explain the rationale behind them.

  • I wanted a calm place: Cultism is something that is present in almost all schools here. The only difference is the level at which it is practised. The two major institutions here then were popularly known to have a high rate of cultism. I try my best to avoid problems as much as possible, even to this day, so I figured I should consider an institution that didn’t have a lot of news about cult-related activities.
  • I was heartbroken: I guess this is self-explanatory but I will explain further. I was a boy fresh out of Secondary school (high school) with a broken heart, thanks to the high school love of my life. I needed to be away from her and there was a high chance she would attend a university in the city of Port Harcourt. Also, the guy who sort of contributed to what led to the heartbreak was an undergraduate at Rivers State University. For me to get payback, I was going to attend an institution that was more prestigious than the one he was attending. Now I think about it, it’s a cringe thing to do, right?
  • I wanted a place I was unknown: I spent most of my early formative years in Port Harcourt so most of the friends I had were in Port Harcourt. I was going to see more of them in the university and to me, I thought knowing that many people would be a distraction to my studies (lol if only I saw the future).

Based on the reasons above, UNN was the school that had what I needed. And to top it up, the school had unlimited wifi for students. I knew it had to be UNN or nothing. So I filled it during my JAMB registration and I was able to pass the exams related to it and I got my admission in 2017. Coming for my post-UTME was the first time I stepped on the soil of UNN. To be honest I was a bit disappointed. Was this the prestigious University of Nigeria I have heard people boast about? Was this the one that I read about in Purple Hibiscus thanks to Chimamanda Adichie? As someone who had been at the campus of the University of Port Harcourt, UNN didn’t match up to it in terms of infrastructure. It was easy to spot the high number of abandoned projects in UNN, a story for another day.

I was given temporary accommodation by the good people of the Nigeria Federation of Catholic Students (NFCS) at St Peter’s Catholic Chaplaincy. I stayed there for my post-UTME exam and when I resumed school after my admission, for free. I will not forget their kindness. Staying there made me come in contact with similar students in my situation, with some later becoming my friends. During that period of resumption, it was the norm for various organisations to host orientation programs for first years. One happened to be organized by a fellowship, Student Christian Movement (SCM) and my guys were like we should attend as we had free time. I ended up being a dedicated member of the fellowship and to me, it was more than just a fellowship, it was a family to me on campus and even now that I am done with school.

I can remember the first and only time I ever got attacked. I was walking through the usual stadium path that leads to the music department around 7 pm. Only for me and my two female friends to be jumped on by two guys carrying a bottle. I and one of my friends were lucky to run to a safe distance in a split second but unfortunately, the two assailants had the other friend on the floor, and they were struggling to snatch her bag from her. Now how I was able to rush in and free her while struggling with both assailants as my other friend screamed for help remains a mystery. Everything happened within a minute as people were rushing to assist, so the assailants had to flee. I concluded that adrenaline was an amazing thing and that love can make you do crazy things, as I was in love with one of them.

I was privileged to serve my class as the Public Relations Officer for our entire stay in school and it was an interesting experience. One that made me learn so much about human interaction and made me better at it too. I wasn’t always this outspoken as I am now. I can remember people waking me up from my sleep randomly. Just to ask a question that could wait till it was morning. If you were fond of this, I hope you have changed. I had an awesome time thanks to my amazing flatmates, coursemates and schoolmates. I have a ton of moments at UNN. From the high points to the low points, which more than half of my Medium blog is filled with. It has been a beautiful ride, one I would do over and over again. So this is me saying happy convocation to all of you. Today is a day that won’t repeat itself, so savour it as it lasts. So in my tradition of celebrating moments in life as they come, I will be going out to have fun and I encourage you to do so, in the way you can.

Happy Convocation Class of “21

Credit: Photo by Chong Wei on Unsplash