1. Is For The Beginning

“…because every great story has a beginning.”

I will not miss this school. I was not sure why I was crying at this stupid party but I knew I will not miss them. I had to put on a show and pretend I was feeling anything other than joy. I mean I was their head girl and classmate and we were graduating.

Head girl. That is a fancy name for student representative/president for the entire secondary (high) school I attended. It was a job I didn’t want but I fought to keep, and now, I was glad to be leaving it behind. During the course of my one year tenure, I was ganged up on by the entire student body, was at the center of a tribal riot and I was basically treated like a leper by most of the teachers and ALL of the students except few really close friends. It was hell.

Let me talk about my appointment. Yes, I was not elected to be the student representative/president, I was appointed to be one by the new school principal. For the sake of peace, I will not mention the state I schooled at in Nigeria but I will mention that I am an Igbo girl and the school was not in the East.

My parents sent me to the school because it was a unity school and one of the best ones in Nigeria. A Federal Government Secondary (High) School in Nigeria is called a unity school because it was founded to unite students from all over the country and be open to all tribes for a discounted tuition/fees.

As a little girl from the outside looking in, I loved the school. I had wanted to go there since I could talk, and given that my favorite aunt went there, it fueled my drive to get accepted into the school. I got in on my own merit and for five years, I endured the excessive bullying, the constant harassment, the forced manual labor, the hunger strikes, the mental, physical and emotional abuse from both teachers and older students, and the filthy living conditions. It was torture, but every single semester I went back stronger than the last time. I think most of my strength and endurance came from having a sisterhood to go through all of that with. My classmates and I encouraged each other and united, we stood through it all.

The last year (12th grade/SS3) brought about fresh air and finally, control. We were the Queens (oldest) students at the school and we were on top of the world. Now every boarding school appoints prefects from the senior class. It is usually a unanimous vote from both the teachers and the outgoing senior class on whom to chose for what role. For example they needed to appoint the dining hall prefects, health care prefects, different dormitory prefects, library prefect etc.. The most prestigious post/role was that of the Head Girl (student body president/representative). By now, if you grew up in Nigeria, you can deduce I went to an all girls unity school. Well, you are right! #FederalGovtGirlsCollege #FGGC

Before the prefect appointments for my senior class was to take place, we got a new principal. And for the first time the principal was from the Igbo tribe. One day, I was walking home from the library and I saw this little girl from the lowest grade in school (Js 1/7th grade), sitting on the grass, her hands and clothes were dirty, and she was crying her eyes out. I approached her and asked her what was wrong. As we were talking, a strange man approached us and also inquired from us what the problem was. Together, we all walked to the little girl’s class to help her with her dilemma. During this walk, I found out the man who was dressed very shabbily was Igbo just like me and a new teacher. I assumed he was an Igbo language teacher since the school hadn’t replaced the last Igbo teacher that left. Except he wasnt a new Igbo teacher…

A week later, during the general assembly of the students which doubled as the announcement and badge pinning day of the new senior class prefects, I was there, screaming and cheering for my friends who got called up by the Vice Principal as prefects. The Vice Principal then said, “I will let the new principal announce the head girl”. We were all excited to see the new principal since no one has seen him/her before.

He stood up and came forward. My eyes nearly dropped out of my sockets. The new Igbo teacher was also the new Principal? I couldn’t believe it! I was so happy. I thought, “Finally! An Igbo person is in power.”

But I did not have a lot of time to process my thoughts. The new principal took over the microphone and introduced himself in the proudest thickest Igbo accent I was very sure I did not hear the first day I met him. “Change has come,” he said. “One Nigeria!”, he also said. “Meet your new head girl. Udoka Q…”.

It was like a bomb exploded. The silence was deafening… I could feel my heart racing. I closed my eyes tight, because I felt, surely I was dreaming.

Pro Unitate 🤝

For Unity