The country is Nigeria. The city is Lagos.
It was Saturday and I had slept my eyes out. That was after hours of practising make-up application because I had watched some videos on YouTube. It was also the second Saturday in a row I wouldn’t be going to school because students had protested the no-light-no-water situation on campus (never mind that it’s a nationwide problem). So I had spent a few hours after make-up practise reading theories on the Novel. It’s over a year now and somehow I still haven’t mastered shuttling work and school. There was nothing to master really. It is simply done; weekdays working, Saturdays schooling.
That Saturday however as the sun finally hits low ushering in the end of another day, a voice outside the window pulled me from my sleepy recline on one of the sitting-room settees. It was my neighbour’s daughter; dishing out greetings to everyone she caught sight of as she entered the building through the main gate painted reddish-brown. She had just returned from writing the Common Entrance Examinations which will enable her get admitted into secondary school next year. Right after, there was a knock on the kitchen door which also happened to be a back entry into the apartment. Before I could drag myself out of the sitting room to get it, Kenny, my sister, who was in the kitchen at the time opened the door.
Excited whispers filtered towards me as I heard the little girl who had come back say something to Kenny. As if on cue, my sister shouted “Ehn?” in shock. The amebo in me couldn’t resist as I hurried to the kitchen to find out what information the girl had passed on to Kenny to warrant that reaction. Then Kenny told the girl to go upstairs to her parent’s apartment to drop her exam things and come back downstairs when she’s done. Soon as the girl left, my sister said;
“Can you believe what … just said?” Not waiting for my response, she continued, “She said answers were dictated to them at the centre.”
“What answers?” I asked, wanting to be sure it wasn’t what I was thinking.
“The Common Entrance Exams answers”, Kenny replied. “She said the School’s Principal begged invigilators to ‘help’ them some thirty minutes before submission time.”
With my jaw literarily on the ground, I thought “So this corruption has got to the children too?”
“Our children are in trouble”, Kenny muttered as we slowly, sadly, let the implications of the seemingly ‘innocent helping’ of the children sink in.