In Nigeria, the words ‘tertiary institution’ brings to mind huge buildings, sagging boys, skimpily dressed girls, corrupt lecturers and sometimes, but very rarely, education. For most parents, it is a period when you get scared to pick your child’s calls, because you are pretty sure he/she wants more money. University, Polytechnic and College of Education are words that they see in their nightmares; by the time a parent has paid for three children in a tertiary institution, he seriously starts considering committing himself to a mental home. But let’s forget about the parents; after all, it is their fault, they should have let the boy go into music or the girl go into modeling.
Our focus today is on these young adults who have been forced into tertiary institutions. If you are currently considering taking this very dangerous step, let me share with you these truths.
Entering a tertiary institution has its advantages. You will seriously improve your culinary skills, after you have almost died of food poisoning. Also you will come to learn that contrary to popular belief, as long as the kerosene stove is not totally dry, it will cook exactly two indomie super packs, and even soften yam to an eatable texture. You will learn how to mask the inviting smell of stew by turning the cover sideways. You will get very good at hiding food, and sustaining yourself on one type of food for years at a time; plus you will learn the importance food combinations, because some foods, when eaten alone, will simply not take you through the day.
Socially, you will learn that even though your father paid for the room for you stay alone, at any given time, you may have four or five squatters, so that on some days, you wake up to the sound of someone using your bathroom, but you are not exactly sure who. You also learn that contrary to popular belief, everything can be borrowed, so that you walk into school one day to see your shirt on the back of someone you are pretty sure you do not know. You will also learn that not all colors can be worn into the school campus.
Educationally, you will learn everything, only to find out sometime in your fourth year, that out of everything you learned from your first year, the only thing you can remember is the meaning of condensation.
Out of all this, you will also learn the key phrases you have to use when calling for money, phrases that will ensure that you get the money, phrases like ‘will not write exam’ or ‘will fail’. So that your father at home picks your calls sounding like the undertaker. And hey don’t worry, that alert will come sooner or later.
Written by Chika Jones, tweets at @chika_jones