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Esco: Teacher No Teach Me Nonsense

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I love all teachers. Teaching is the most selfless profession in the world. Maybe, other than a night-soil man (agbekpo coordinator).
It is fair to say that I would not be the man I am if not for the wonderful teachers I have had at all stages of school life. Let me take you on an odyssey as I remember some of the teachers I have had.

In Primary school, Ghanaian teachers were the proudest with their mini-afros and Safari suits with the huge collars and boot cut pants, looking like they had just stepped out of a 70s discotheque. They also spoke a unique blend of English with some crazy pronunciations “Do yer werk” (They pronounced “work” like “twerk”)
They were also strict disciplinarians too. Mr. Kwame wielded the cane of life, which he garnished with tatatshe and suya pepper until it looked like our Senate President’s mace. By the early 90s, most of the Ghananian, Liberian and Sierra Leonean teachers had returned to their countries, as economic conditions there prevailed over Nigeria’s. Ghana bread also disappeared from the streets, sadly for me.

There was Mrs. Nwama whose son was also in my class, so she was especially hard on him in other to diffuse any notions of partiality. She would ask a question, and if nobody volunteered the answer, she made him a scape goat. If he gave the wrong answer, she flogged him hard with a cane. If he gave the right one, she flogged him for not standing up to answer on time. I hear he is a psychologist now in Yankee.

Mr. Ganiyu our Primary 4 teacher loved to put the whiz-kids students in the front desks, and place the slower learners (whom he repeatedly called olodos) in the back desks – away from sight – which has always been weird to me. Don’t the slower learners need more attention in the front? Me, I chilled in the middle rows playing footsie and biro game with my crush Ejiro. What’s up, ex?

Then there was my teacher in primary 3, Miss Otolo who seized snacks from pupils eating in class, and added the food to her lunch stash, a bit like our government did with the Abacha loot. She snatched my Nasco Wafers from me, but I did not bother to forewarn her that I had been licking the cream in the insides. Fufu flavour.
Then there was Mrs. Olaiya (not real name) now deceased who was our primary school headmistress. That woman was the epitome of class and grace. She never raised her voice, or her hand. Even when she scolded a child, it was with language that the child could barely comprehend at that age, but that the child would recall years later and weep in remembrance.

Chiding two pupils who had been caught thieving someone’s Math-set, she said “there is no honor amongst thieves.” Oh yes there can be.
On the school assembly stage, she would make the reader of the address repeat the pronunciation of the word “theme” until they got the “th” sound. She could not stand any one pronouncing “theme” as “team.”
And I remember her also reprimanding our football team because they were yelling for penariti (instead of the word penalty). She boxed the goalkeeper in the ear for using the wrong word, and he ended up conceding goals like Rufai at France 98. We thought she was being pedantic at the time, but thanks Mrs. Olaiya.
Rest in peace, Matriarch. You were indeed a Fountain of knowledge, and I wore your school stripes with pride as a youngster.

Then there was Mr. Nnaba the music teacher with the buck-tooth scowl and the thick heavy ruler which he used to smack the heads of any student who did not master the music table or who clapped out of sync during rehearsals. His singing voice was like a rat’s squeal, but you dare not tell him.

Then there was Mr. Ogun who adorned the Father Xmas outfit at the annual Xmas concert which was always a blast and an annual fixture of the local social calendar, attended by pupils of other schools, parents and members of the Surulere community. I remember us chorusing that Yoruba Christmas tune, which feels nostalgic right now “keresimesi tu made o”
Mr. Ogun, all 150 pounds of him was a lekpa. For the pageant however, he used stuffed pillows to create Father Xmas’s pot-belly and cotton wool for a beard. The nursery school kids were not that easily fooled as they recognized his toney-red shoes with the Boy Alincoesque pivot heels, and shouted his name throughout drowning out the performance at the nativity play.

He tried placating the mischievous cretins with Jemka chewing gum and Gogo, but it was like trying to control ants with St. Louis sugar. It was bribing little children, which is a bad precedent to set at a young age. Kids are the leaders of tomorrow, just not this election or the next or the one after that.

In secondary school I remember Mallam Damisa the Commerce teacher who shelled repeatedly like a trigger happy Boko Haram commander. He pronounced English words like he was spewing bitter kola and mixed up male and female tenses. To compensate for his bad English, he used big words, but ended up brutalizing the sentence. Once he had caught a bunch of students tossing bangers (fireworks) at night. He made them “kneel down and hands-up” as punishement, before he rebuked them publically “How can you threw such an explosion, for the purpose of a joy.” Question for BH, too.
How could I forget Ma Ogunfe the Mathematics teacher who believed that ‘boarders’ were the scum of the earth, but that day students could do no wrong. Someone had laid a massive ostrich sized egg at the back of the class which stunk the place out. Ma Ogunfe automatically blamed it on the boarders, and made them pack it up, while the day students watched in laughter. Not cool.

By the time I got to the University, the game had changed to a whole new level. Teachers, now, lecturers were less involved, more aloof and had more power to hurt your short term future.
There was Professor X who we nicknamed such for his default propensity to fail students by playing tic-tac-toe when marking answer sheets. There were usually lots of x and zeros when he was done. Like Terrahawks.
Then there was Dr. Ajene, the proletariat, who loved to “humiliate” well-off students by picking on them in class, and sending them on errands to do menial tasks like buy his lunch of moi-moi and pap from the old Buka. You did not have much choice in the matter – you needed to take and pass Philosophy class. Man is born free, but everywhere he is in shackles.

Then there was Roscoe Pound, another lecturer who got off catching cheats during exams. He was a sneaky little so and so. He had probing eyes and was as prolific as a rat trap garnished with crayfish. He caught cheat after cheat after cheat – it was ridiculous. When he pulled out “micro-chips” (a small piece of paper with carefully written answers) from one girl’s bra, she bit him hard in frustration like an ensnared catfish. He wore that bite mark like a badge of honor.

Despite the different characters and personalities of the teachers I have had from nursery school to university, all have played a part in my life and for that I am grateful. Shout-out to the biggest teacher of all, my mum who made me recite the times-table and master counting with table-tops. Look, I made it ma – I now use Excel spreadsheets and pivot tables!
A teacher’s reward is in heaven, but they deserve lots of Naira and Kobo here on earth too.

There were empires in Africa called Kush/
Timbuktu, where every race came to get books/
to learn from black teachers who taught Greeks and Romans/

Nas (I Can, 2002)

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | A J Cotton

Fellow Nigerians, it is with the utmost pride and sincerity that I present these memoranda as a living testament and recollection of history in the making during our generation. Preamble: Esco is a lampoonist, content provider for hire, and convener of the blog Literati: Satires On Nigerian Life www.woahnigeria.wordpress.com, which is a symposium to project the conditions of every Nigerian and inspire young people all over the world. He is currently working on his memoirs “The Great, Wonderful Adventures of Esco”, which will be available in 2016. Esco can be reached for scripting writing, ghost writing and editing work by email at [email protected] Oh, and he occasionally tweets at @Escowoah.

21 Comments

  1. Teacher28

    March 25, 2015 at 8:13 am

    Thank you for celebrating us.

  2. thathausachic

    March 25, 2015 at 8:49 am

    Very nostalgic for me…..as you made me remember my younger days too. Thanks Esco and to all teachers out there sorry as we may never say how much we really appreciate you. May you all be rewarded here too-Amen

  3. zeenie

    March 25, 2015 at 8:56 am

    beautifully written, loved the humor too, made me go down memory lane… i remembered all my teachers too, the ones i liked and the ones i didnt. Thanks for celebrating teachers, without them we will not be where we are today.

  4. Croniii

    March 25, 2015 at 9:01 am

    Hnmmmm…. Nice write up! Thanks for celebrating us….

  5. Ada Nnewi

    March 25, 2015 at 9:14 am

    LMAO!!! Primary school sha…the fear of Mr Pepra’s ruler was the beginning of wisdom…Mrs Thomas knocks will always be legendary, Mr Annan and Muson memories….

  6. Bleed Blue

    March 25, 2015 at 9:18 am

    This Ensco of a brother! I’m leaning more and more towards fishing you out for lunch and a conversation. Not so much the meal, more of the talk.

    I mean, the way you write!!!!! The way you juxtaposed your impression of your childhood influences with the current situation of the country…all those subliminal metaphors….ugh! Brilliant!

    And I actually felt sorry for Mrs. Nwama’s son. Like, a proper heart ache for him happened. Psychology makes sense. The poor guy certainly needs to study the human mind.

    BUT WAIT OH… how is it that you said Mrs. Olaiya “never raised her hand” and then she still boxed the goalkeeper in the ear… abi was it figure of speech that got lost on me? Or am I just as pedantic as the lady herself? 🙂

    • Bleed Blue

      March 25, 2015 at 10:50 am

      Kai! Esco it is…not “Ensco”…biko no vex….

    • Esco

      March 25, 2015 at 2:48 pm

      Bleed Blue – No offence taken. Besides Ensco is the name of an oil service corporation, no? Not bad at all….

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      March 25, 2015 at 5:03 pm

      @Esco, jack-up and submersible tinz, abi? You sabi better thing, my brotha… 😀

  7. blow

    March 25, 2015 at 9:24 am

    Waoh! Nice read.
    Love the humour – laced political innuendos strategically strewn all over the article.
    1st line of the 11th paragraph, “to” is missing between “got” and “the” (Sorry, I am a natural critic, and I have done editing before, so I just see these ‘lil things…..)
    Both of my parents were teachers,
    And a big shout out to my secondary school teachers Mr. Jegede and Mrs. Ogunride.
    And as for Mr. Egunjobi, my English language teacher in SS3; how do you even sleep at night? Do you know how many lives you Ve destroyed? How could you have a total of 3 classes in all throughout SS3 whilst you knew we were preparing for SALE and in a rural area for that matter where we get to speak English in school only? Yet you punished us when we reported you to the principal. …….I am sure your kids are in some posh private school., we could a gone to such if our parents had the cash
    May God forgive you o….
    P’S. …. i dedicate all the gbagauns” to Mr. Egunjobi aka “one eyed Sunday”, yep! That’s the title of the only chapter we read in intensive English textbook….go figure!

    • Coolcat

      March 25, 2015 at 12:45 pm

      Now I know where I got the tendency to always correct errors in grammar and use of english. My mum was a teacher (may her beautiful soul RIP). I couldnt help but notice some errors in the write up but fortunately it didnt stop me from enjoying it. So funny and interesting, i couldnt help laughing out loud at my desk that my colleagues kept asking what is amusing me so much. Big ups to you Esco, I loved it but please use spell check for future articles that I can’t wait to read and enjoy.

    • Blessmyheart

      March 25, 2015 at 8:39 pm

      Yeah, me too. My mum is a teacher and was always a stickler for correct grammar. To this day, incorrect grammar, especially in speech is like a neon light, I can’t but take notice.
      Shout out to my wonderful teachers, especially my mum!

  8. blow

    March 25, 2015 at 9:26 am

    *SSCE* auto correct changed to SALE……and waoh! It felt good finally letting that out!

  9. tutu

    March 25, 2015 at 9:50 am

    Please where is Isio Knows Better??? For two weeks straight without any warning or acknowledgment. Its not fair!!!

    • BellaNaija.com

      March 25, 2015 at 10:39 am

      http://www.bellanaija.com/2015/03/10/isio-knows-better-forgiving-even-when-someone-sets-out-to-hurt-you/

      “Side note: (*clears throat*) I have decided to take a one-month hiatus from creative-writing. Make una no vex. I love you all eh. Even you, madam gidi-gba and minions. Not because you said sorry, but because I don’t have a choice. Life is a fleeting moment. Your sorry will never be good enough, but I forgive you anyway.

      Kisses!”

    • Nonamespls

      March 25, 2015 at 1:28 pm

      She warned us she would be taking some time away counting down till she returns, two more weeks i think.

  10. nammy

    March 25, 2015 at 10:13 am

    me likey! I remember Jemka chewing gum.
    Dear writer, are you telling your mum that all the times-table she made you learn are now wasted cos u have microsoft excel? just hope she reads this, maybe she’ll make you learn 10,000 times-table.

  11. DAME

    March 25, 2015 at 10:15 am

    Esco always delivers…
    i remember my headmaster , we called him UNCLE H.M …Ghanian mafia something..he could teach like hell…you cannt go to pry six and fail common entrance…GOD FORBID….God bless him
    Was so sad i went back like 15yrs later a graduate and i saw Uncle H.M still there wearing threadbare shirts…was sadddddd.
    My mom and I did the little we could…i was glad i did because now i heard hes late.

    There was also one other ghanian teacher we called “uncle drink-water” LMAO…i swear that was the name he told us and we believed …till today

    GOD BLESS ALL TEACHERS

  12. sarah

    March 25, 2015 at 11:16 am

    This is beautifully written. I love the bits of humour and metaphors you used here. Reading this made me remember some of my favourite and funny teachers.

  13. Zayt

    March 25, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    Thoroughly enjoyed this piece! thank u Esco…God bless our teachers. 🙂

  14. Abby

    March 25, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    Roscoe Pound was a Nazi!hahahahhahaha.”He caught cheat after cheat after cheat – it was ridiculous. When he pulled out “micro-chips” (a small piece of paper with carefully written answers) from one girl’s bra, she bit him hard in frustration like an ensnared catfish. He wore that bite mark like a badge of honor.”
    Teachers!hate them,love them!It seems the Ghanaian teachers left a huge impression on Nigerian students before “Ghana must go” happened.Nice one

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