Friday, July 11, 2008

There's fire on our mountain oh!

“Keep quiet, keep quiet!” the exam invigilator kept saying. The noise level in the examination room was rising and it was not an open book exam.
We were taking professional exams. Exams that will usher us into the path of leadership and management excellence in Nigeria. Yeah. Right.
The test takers paid no heed to the invigilator. Instead they urgently called out more questions and replied with louder answers, as if to do the deed before he lost his patience. Which he did:
I don’t want to hear any noise! If you have anything to say, write it down and pass it!”
Huh? What did you say?
The class erupted in incredulous chatter and chuckles. We had just received an open invitation to cheat from our invigilator.

There’s fire on the mountain
And nobody seems to be on the run
Oh there’s fire on the mountaintop
And no one is running*

It seems to me that the silent mantra in this great country of ours has become:
Do whatever you can, say what you must, by hook or by crook, just stay on top.
We cry foul at the man-know-man job market. But the truth is, if I owned my own business, I too would give preference to candidates I meet through acquaintances and friends; people who can be vouched for. What use do I have for an embellished resume or a graduate who bought rather than worked for his certificate?
But again I don’t blame the individual…I blame the system that breeds and protects the individual. What is scary is that we will reap what we sow.
*Back to my story…
So being the opportunistic lot that we are, a self-appointed class rep rose up in class the next day and announced that he and his seat mates decided it would be wise for everyone in the class to contribute some money to give to the invigilator…so that the day’s exams will go smoothly! “Just something small for her to use to buy Fanta you know, then she can use the change to credit her phone.”
I thought (and hoped) they were joking, until one of them showed up to collect my contribution...

One day the river will overflow
And there’ll be no place for us to go
And we will run, run
Wishing we had put out the fire
*Fire on the Mountain—Asa/ Cobhams Asuquo


  1. I'm so against cheating, even when I'm told "everyone does it" or "it's the way to work the system". All that you described happens here too and I try my best to avoid it. I agree though that if I owned a business I would do my best to help "my people" before looking to the outside world for employees.

    Of course the question on everyone's mind is: did you or didn't you contribute? ;)

  2. Things are bad in this country.

  3. I love that song!!!

    God give us the strength to make Naija a better place.

  4. lolololol! I'd have loved to see the look on ur face when that announcement was made, especially cuz u've been away from naija 4 a while and are not used to d "system">
    Sad as it is, that's jus d way things work in Naija. I really wonder where d change wants to come from!

  5. sometin similar happened to me in 95 when i wrote GCE and its soo appalling!in proff exams for that wa.

    hey wassup and how u de?

  6. OMG, there is so much truth in that Asa's song. And one day the "system" is going to come crashing down. I get angry when Nigerians just shrug and say "that's how the system works here" when you point out something that is blatantly wrong. It's so sad. Why can't someone just stand up and do what is right, instead of conforming?

    Erm, so did you....?

  7. @goodnaijagirl,those who are against cheating are actually the weirdoes, the minority, it's crazy...ah, you'll have to wait for the conclustion of the gist;)
    @aloofar, they are dear, they are.
    @isha, yes, I love me some asha and cobhams
    @mizchif,it really is the way things work in Nigeria,I felt so...flaberggasted.
    @bunmmy, I dey girl, u nko? Have you finished those juicy stories??
    @favoured girl, dadan dandan! I'll tell very soon ;) Totally agree more of us need to stand up to the erosion.

  8. I remember when a similar thing happened when I wrote PolyJAMB many years ago. Imagine them asking a 15 year old for 50 naira (in a room of about 80 people) way back when....I don't even recall if the 50 naira note was out then. I said no, and they looked at me like I was mad, told the invigilator who then gave me the evil eye. I'm sure that guy threw my papers away cos I don't remember getting that result...Oh well, it didn't really matter.

    Its sad the way people take/accept cheating in Nigeria. Thankfully, there are still a lot of people that don't believe in cheating.

  9. Hey! Still in the 9-5 world here in the good ol' U S of A. Killing time waiting for 5 and "stumbled upon" your post after like 3 hours of browsing lol... would love to pick your brain....send me a message cos we need to chat

  10. sad........

    but this is how we do.........

    thing though is.......

    did u benefit.......

    and some parts of naija its not about what ur docs say...its what u can do......

    a lot of people understand the system is crooked....but bottomline is if u dont wanna be part of it.......its cool!!!!!!!!!!

  11. fire on the mountain ! run! run!

  12. well backtonaija, point of correction, those who actually dont want corruption, look like weirdos but they are not the weirdos. those who love corruption look normal in naija, but are the real monsters .

  13. Am sure that contribution will not reach the invigilator...afterall she did not ask for money before giving the go ahead...