Day One; “…Finally the long night was over, it was dawn and I could not wait any longer. It was Friday 18th October 1996.
My parents had spent the whole week combing the nooks and crannies of the Jos Terminus Market to ensure the Prospectus of their soon-to-be boarder was exhausted.
That long awaited day came. It felt unreal, when my dad started the car engine heading towards the hills of Kuru, to a school so prestigious and exclusively reserved for the greats. I wanted to be part of its illustrious history and story.
I was blushing like a naive little babe in love with a toaster. Kuru toasted my heart, I could not wait to set my feet on the soil of Government Science Secondary School Kuru.
It was a long, long journey-a journey from the heart of Jos City to the Hills of Kuru that felt like one from Lagos to Maiduguri.
In a little over 35 minutes we arrived, at about 10:05am. What a dream I thought! I would tap my self to wake up but it was real. A dream-come-true.
Welcomed by a strong but chilled breeze, dancing trees, overgrown Elephant Grasses and serious looking faces rushing to catch-up with breakfast.
I went through the laborious screening and registration routines and I was done at about 01:00pm. I was taken to Ngolong Ngas (G.N) Hostel. A hostel I will later discover was situated around where most of the school’s major activities took place that required certain adaptive features like mental and physical alertness, smartness, “terrestrial buoyancy”, toughness, intelligence and endurance.
It was the hostel arguably with the highest Visual Connectivity.
If you take North you see G.G House-always assembling juniors what for I don’t know. East is the Dining Hall of activities -a place that mattered to the mighty, the weak, great and the small. To the West was E.K House-a no go area considered a den of brutality, and to the South where all academic activities took place. It had it all.
It was in close proximity with the “holy ground” (The Check Point), where major sins before the day’s classes where wiped- to prepare your minds to accept the gospel of Science.
The assembly for General Work, Assembly Hall, The Black Market all had proximal link with the Ngolong Ngas Hostel. It had it all.
Taken to Cabin 7 Up Stairs with two Seniors- Dominic Onyeke and Friday Williams (both Sub-Prefects then). After the usual introduction and pleasantries, I bade farewell to my dad.
It was a moment of transformation for all Johnnies where their feeble hearts of lamb would eventually become intrepid.
Everyone both the Seniors and Juniors seem to be nice to me the first few hours, everything was going to plan it felt like utopia until the first reality check.
It was in the evening of that Friday at about 7:30 pm (Prep Time- to be observed in classes), I was carried away by the euphoria of boardinghouse, lying comfortably on my tear-rubber new 6-spring mattress on the upper bunk when suddenly I heard a growing chaos.
Buzzing whistles like swarms of bees heard from afar kept growing in decibels. The pandemonium was on the increase. Students seemed to be running helter-skelter.
Could it be rapture? Fire inferno? Raiding armed robbers? I laid apprehensively on my bed alone with no one to answer these questions.
Alas! The buzzing whistle was here,”…before the count of 3, in fact bang!” …lashes heard within touching distance.
At this point I got! I knew I was in trouble.
It were prefects on duty chasing students who were trying to get themselves ready for the dreaded Friday Night Roll Call in preparation for the almighty Inspection the following morning.
As they approached my cabin, seeing a naive apprehensively looking lamb, who had broken all the rules and regulations there is, began the rain.
The rain that will eventually become a norm developing a thick skin for. It was a rain of lashes, of belts and strokes of cane all over me that left me traumatized.
The prefects speechlessly rained the strokes until I understood the message and ran out of the hostel to the direction others were heading to-the classes. It was Prep Time and considered sacrilegious to be found anywhere but the classes.
I headed for the classes with neither shoes nor books yet I read for about 2 hours.
Preps was over and I could hear from afar sounds of bells from respective hostels. Suddenly students started running towards hostel. The kind of haste you’ll liken to one trying to catchup with the last available flight.
I asked, “What is this hurry for?” The response was simply, “Roll Call!”
They ran and ran as if their lives depended on getting to their respective Roll Call grounds.
I eventually joined in the run with my bare foot back to my hostel with no idea what Roll Call meant.
The Roll Call was my second reality check- another cleansing ground and a more holier ground than the Check Point, where sins for the day are washed away, to keep you in reconciliation with the angels in your dreams.
Those who didn’t turn-up for the afternoon General Work were fiercely punished. Pre-inspection defaulters of all sorts (dull white uniforms, bed sheets, socks, no belts, absenteeism, truancy etc.) where all put in their place.
I was not left out in this reality check. From afar ensuing my hostel, I could hear a loud count, 1 to 10. “1,2,3,4,5..” I wondered what the count was for. I increased my speed and ran faster. “6,7,8,9,10.”
I was late for Roll Call. A taboo and an unforgivable sin I will get to know. The Johnny in me was not pardoned and was lashed equally with the old timers. What a sudden hell my Day 1 had become. I cried but was angrily hushed on the ground-for it was unforgivable to behold the sight of tears.
In another scenario that same night, I will get countless slaps from one Senior Mark Ngbashi (can’t remember the spelling exactly) for demanding my pen back after he had finished using it. What a Kuru World!
After the Roll Call, I went back to my Cabin, laying prostrate and sobbed uncontrollably wondering this is Day 1 (18th October, 1996) of 6 years and how I will survive the forthcoming Tsunami.”
Was this the Kuru that produced great men of yore? Will this Day 1 experience allow me achieve my academic dreams and prepare me for life’s hurdles ahead?
These were all the thoughts I could remember lying prostrate in my 6-spring mattress when I heard a loud sound!
Gbang! Gbang!! Gbang!!!
It was the Rising Bell, Inspection Morning!.”
“Culled from my Odyssey- I Answered The Call- Obaje Samuel S.
Kuru boy do you have a story???