“Congratulations! I write to offer you admission to read English and Linguistics at the University of Ghana.”
Yesss!! A sense of pride and extreme joy shook my bones and caked my face with smiles.
The happiness exceeded bounds that Wednesday morning because I knew I was going to study the best things; and with the best ones.
Although I received an admission text from the University of Education, Winneba (UEW) same minute, I chose the nation’s premier university for obvious reasons – UEW offered me Information Technology (IT). I didn’t know its essence then, however, I’d still not trade English for anything in the world.
Very fascinatingly, I had made up my mind to be in Accra. Yes, I wanted it and they gave it to me squarely in no uncertain terms. After staying in my village near Cape ‘3’ Points for almost two decades, I finally landed my feet in Accra for higher education.
The registration processes started early and I was already dripping in sweats, chasing hall masters and tutors for accommodation after missing the infamous online residential accommodation slot – the android phone I inherited from an uncle crawled on the site until all the rooms were full in less than five minutes.
It was an Infinix device that had a cracked screen, with almost half of it filled with ‘ink’; so, I usually had to cover the upper part of the screen to block the sun rays to get a better view. The phone’s case was nicely wrapped with a rubber band that almost looked like a design; it went unnoticed, probably because I could play the hide and seek game well. Maybe, the phone could have been more useful if I had known how to navigate the UG site that crucial hour.
My dad, after accompanying me to campus, had to leave for the village to tend to his farm. With virtually no friend or sibling to assist me on campus then, I sought solace in the University of Ghana Computing Systems (UGCS).
A gentleman I never met again till date registered all my courses on the MIS Web for me. I could manage the manual registrations at the various departments; just that most of the shirts I received as part of the souvenirs did not last for even a year – they were inferior goods. Haha, the fact that I came from a village did not bar me from knowing quality things.
My woes began, and what was to become a dream school turned into my nemesis. Memories of the serialised hardships always get me emotional and teary.
A good samaritan offered me a free wooden structure in Level 100 first semester. I had been managing my own affairs until she brought other ladies to join me in that cramped structure.
With their appealing and sweet-smelling perfumes, each night came with a different sense of feeling and an attraction I could not resist – they overmastered me as we sometimes tended to undergo bad, messy and rocking funny moments. I had my share of the awkward and the uncomfortable airflows that decorated the room during late hours.
I talk about two charming damsels who were age mates with curvaceous statures and exuded deep, desirable sensual energies. They succeeded in attracting not only my eyes but the full being. I lost focus sometimes, and even though I did not like the situation I found myself in, their wild and erotic ‘boobs’ alone revealed some mental concept of something hot.
I also missed most of my 7:30 am classes due to traffic because the area was quite far from campus. I had to compulsorily study in the Balme Library after lecture hours before leaving for my abode. Don’t be quick to say it is normal for students to study there…when I go home, I wouldn’t get a convenient study environment.
In a room with these ladies, it was pretty annoying I always had to exit the room after they had taken their shower. Although they didn’t necessarily ask me to leave, I had to stay away from temptation; or would you have had me stare at the half naked fair ladies while they dressed up? We used a white bulb so I could see things clearly. I eventually made friends with the mosquitoes outside. Fortunately, I didn’t fall sick.
Lest I forget, another woman came to join us with three children, whose agenda for each day were to use my hard-earned textbooks to play. I complained one day and regretted ever doing that. The landlady conspired with them and rained insults on me for two days, successively.
To the extreme, they called my parents to tell them I am stubborn. I had to start looking for another place to stay. What was my crime? I had beaten the children for destroying my books. The tables turned and I ended up weeping bitterly as those lads mocked me. Well, I couldn’t afford the expensive hostels so I had to hope that things would get better. The funny thing is, society will not understand if one fails because all what people know is that you are in Legon, therefore, make it count at all cost. This internal motivation kept me going!
Don’t be carried away to think this is hyperbolic or fictive. There was no single day in the early two years at Legon that I didn’t break down emotionally and psychologically because I felt not belonging and not fit for the new environment. I saw people dress nicely, wear nice shoes for classes but I had none! The money given to me by my farming parents dried up bi-weekly – strictly food and nothing more.
I did not spend more than ¢8 daily. Due to this, I ate once in a day…it was a fixed plan – wait till 4 or 5 pm to enjoy a heavy meal and go to bed. My family went to the extreme to ensure I was provided for. It wasn’t enough; however, I made due with what was given. Such is the reality when dad could have landed a well-paying job but financial barriers thwarted all efforts.
I am the first in the family to have completed university. The lady who comes after me has graduated from high school, while the remaining two boys are nearing JHS completion. Well, pressure begins to mount on me as the firstborn then…we shall cross the sea gradually.
A change in narrative
Living conditions improved significantly in Levels 200 and 300 because I could get a place to stay on campus. I involved myself in some debating activities, academic discussions and had the opportunity to hold several portfolios in organisations I joined, including my campus fellowship.
I remember my days with the University of Ghana Debate Society (UGDS) where I improved my public speaking and critical thinking skills. I could not take debate higher due to some unforeseen constraints. However, my volunteering work at Radio Univers filled in some potholes and honed my communication skills.
Those Friday Campus Exclusive (CampEx) meetings seemed to be a fly-in-the-ointment. There were days I joined the meetings with poorly-produced topics that gave me ‘wahala’ – those editors and seniors knew how to rebuke and scold us well.
I rose through the ranks to become one of the editors in levels 300 and 400. I feel I could not do much and wish times could be reversed; yet, my two-year stay with Alhaji and the entire team provided a platform “sine qua non” to wit “an essential condition” to build my journalism career.
V-Matesss! Shaarrp!! With its unabated culture of Vandalism, the City on the hill has been a home to thousands of prominent Ghanaians in, and out of Africa, who are effecting lasting changes in societies and various fields. The Commonwealth Hall, where I resided, fortified and instilled in me moral and ethical values such as perseverance, parsimony, among others which are recipes for societal progress.
I recall how we used to line up at the Basket Market to buy Mansa’s beans – the Almighty ‘gob3’ did wonders! Other sellers like Sherifa, Amazing, Franca and Variety treated us with good meals. How can I forget ‘Cee’ the bread and egg seller who always fought us – the good old days, indeed!
Course mates and fellowship brethren liked my personality, they saw some characteristics of a ‘dada ba’ in me because I was charming, spoke pretty well, was active in class and won the admiration of my lecturers who became more like my friends. I got many friends, most of them ladies. Having many girlfriends came with its own advantages and disadvantages.
I remember vividly all the amazing and awesome encounters, the spontaneous hookups, the sleepovers and the romance. Some were unplanned because the rationale for visiting was to study – the attractions ruined any effort to open the slides. Some of those ladies had boyfriends but memories of those gentlemen disappeared whenever I was in the picture.
I messed up, except that no penetration was recorded – I am still good friends with them but the distance has become wider. Others opened amazing opportunities for me and helped me improve myself. As for food, I ate some from different kitchens and cooks!
As someone who held positions like Music Director, News Editor and Public Relations Officer, I had limited time to chill. I mostly did not spend time at hall week celebrations, except for work purposes. Oh, I wasn’t having a boring life, after all. But my background and vision prevented me from engaging in certain activities and adventures. I saw my presence at UG as an opportunity to change the narrative back home.
I took a high interest in church activities and singing in the choir and maintained a beautiful relationship with my roommates and fellowship members. I was only interested in leaving a good mark wherever I found myself. I can’t blow my own trumpet but there is no doubt I was, and still am brilliant.
I took a lot of interest in research and discussions with colleagues. During any exam period, I could spend more than 12 hours a day leading discussions – without food. But you would see some participants chew assorted biscuits and enjoy nice meals. My mother had warned me against taking money for lending a helping hand; I could have made very good money. But my conscience would offer me no sleep.
The discussions helped a lot! Unlike Level 100, I had ‘As’ in chains from Level 200 through to Level 400, especially when Covid-19 forced online classes and exams on us, when we were not ready for anything like that. I read seven courses in some semesters and recorded B+ as my worst grade…some English courses like Phonetics, Phonology, Grammar and Pragmatics – just to mention a few – would always thwart your GPA goals…hahaha.
Reading English was a dream come true for me after my initial plans of going to the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) failed. The courses were tough and challenging but I sailed through successfully. Despite the difficulty, I graduated with First Class honours. This tells me any goal is achievable; you only need to be principled, diligent and consistent to excel.
I never saw myself to be all-knowing so I mostly tapped into other people’s knowledge and expertise. There were times some lecturers directed American and other exchange programme students to me for assistance. Like seriously? What an honour. I did not allow my terrible experiences and grades to destroy my future triumphs and successes.
Although I couldn’t get the crown as a Valedictorian for my college, the mention of my name as a First Class student during the January 2022 virtual graduation was an impeccable and unbridled victory. It took me hours to believe I had graduated.
The future looks great. I hope to give my children the best treatment they can ever have from their father. This should not suggest that my parents did not do much. They were with me throughout the emotional rollercoaster. Even when they did not have, they borrowed to keep me going. May God bless them with good health and long life. I celebrate them on this day for the great work they have done for me, and I promise not to disappoint them.
‘We’ are still battling with the accommodation issue even after school but know all is gonna be alright. I’m hopeful to get a comfortable abode in Accra after National Service. We trust the process, at least.
Like they say, this feels like a soapbox rant over. I am confident life has got very beautiful offers for me. We have all it takes to beat the odds. Here is a story half-told and I know you are encouraged that all is possible so far as you have life.
Here is to say a hearty congratulations to all the great personalities I have met, who contributed, and continue to contribute to my growth. All the disappointments and the wins are well celebrated today.
Never cast aside the bad days, they end up serving you a lesson to make one a better person – even a first-class graduate. Till we meet next time, chao!!!.
The author works with The Multimedia Group Limited. Views shared in this article do not reflect the position of his employers.
You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or here.
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