Life and circumstances come in the same package.

In fact, life itself is a circumstance.

Really, we all go through situations. In varying degrees of severity. However, there is no standard measuring scale for determining severity. Each person has the right to determine how severe a situation is to them. You can’t start arguing with someone about how severe (or not) a situation is supposed to be to them. Is it your situation?

Situations are in different classes. There are those you can do something about. There are others that one just has to wait for them to roll over. It is those in the latter category that I wish to address in this piece.


In my few years on earth, I’ve been in a few situations that I really tried my best (within the limits of my understanding) to neutralize and terminate.

I did everything I could. From the logical to the spiritual, from the pragmatic to the ideal…I prayed and hoped, I thought and planned, I adjusted and made moves. Nothing changed. I got tired and even became a skeptic at some point.

Over time, I realised that there were some challenges I just had to wait till time took care of them. No matter how hard I tried and how sad I became, it didn’t change much.

However, that posed another challenge too. The frustration of not being able to do anything to change things and the fact that you still had to function normally, seeing that life won’t excuse you on the grounds of ‘special situation’.

You still had to wake up in the morning, do the regular, go to work, smile at people, take care of yourself, watch the road when crossing, and behave decently.

At such times, even the regular and casual things require mustered energy.

So, for those in such situations, I encourage you to keep going and not give up. Time will sort things out in your favour. Keep encouraging yourself and stay hopeful. Drag yourself on if you have to. Occupy yourself with worthy things. Look for things to be grateful for, because there are always things to be grateful for. Sometimes, you can even encounter unexpected positive developments in the midst of it all.


Overall, you are closer to what you desire than you realise, and you may even found out much later that everything still worked out for good.


May God HELP us all.



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Time and again, I have realised how powerful indoctrination can be.

A set of ideas or beliefs that are taught or believed to be true.

That’s the succinct definition of the word ‘doctrine’ by the Merriam Webster dictionary.

Thus, to indoctrinate is to teach (someone) to fully accept the ideas, opinions, and beliefs of a particular group and to not consider other ideas, opinions, and beliefs.


Cutting across several arenas of human endeavour, there are so many phenomena and events that testify to the power of indoctrination

From religious groups to armies, from families to cultures, other social groups, in government circles and in the larger society.

As is the nature of power, it can be used for both good and bad ends. Hence, one has to really pay attention to what one believes, and what one is taught (or has been taught) to believe.

This is because when people really believe a thing, and act from the point of belief, they usually go to the extremes. Whether good or bad.

A lot of good has been done in the world through doctrine. Worthy sacrifices have been made, charities, great individuals raised, great cultures and organisations built and great causes fought.

Soldiers are ready to die for the cause they are fighting. Martyrs see what they believe as more important than their lives. Suicide bombers act from the point of belief. Tradition, be it family, societal or governmental, is sustained by doctrine.

Majority of the most significant and landmark events, positive and negative,  in world history stemmed from doctrine and belief.

Everyone has, and should have the responsibility, of screening and reappraising what they believe, because what you believe determine your sacrifices and fantasies.

It is okay to believe something now and then not believe it anymore later, especially when you realise it is not good for you.

That it is believed does not mean it is true. It simply means it is believed. Beliefs can be appraised for correctness, logic and sanity.

Those who have made themselves a medium of spreading doctrine may sometimes take advantage of underage individuals, the mentally ill, the unenlightened and the poor. That even makes it worse.

Take responsibility for what you believe, for your own good and for the good of others too.

There will always be beliefs and indoctrination, and they can be good. However, there is usually a very thin line between when it is used for good and when it is used for evil.


Let us be careful.


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Nigeria is a unique country located in West Africa, and widely regarded as the most populous black nation on earth.


Someone has said rightly that history always repeats itself because men never learn from it. The only lesson we learn from history is that it repeats itself.

From a quick survey of the history & evolution of the Nigerian state, there are certain lessons I have identified. Mistakes that keep recurring.

1. Nothing is new. What has always been still is. How things were is still how things are. It all seems like a cycle.

2. One wrong has always been used to correct another. Hence, what we have had is a vicious cycle of one setback after the other. We need to learn that to correct one wrong with another sets us back and multiplies trouble.

3. Inter-tribal suspicion. It has always been every tribe for itself. Tribe first before country. Everyone is suspicious that his/her tribe is being dominated by the other’s tribe. Consequently, each tribe makes self-preserving moves that paradoxically confirms the paranoia of the other tribe.

4. Selfish Ambition. The affairs of this country should revolve around me. I should hold all power. I should become the ultimate winner. The national cake should be baked in my kitchen. Everyone should bow to my interests. I should be rewarded with this juicy office because I contributed to the power game.

5. Ineffective governance. When people occupy office simply because it’s their turn to do so. They warm the seats as they ‘occupy’ it for the sake of occupying. No serious-mindedness to their approach. They waste and abuse power. The only consideration for appointments is cronyism, politics and patronage.

6. Outright stealing and dubious diversion of public funds. This is done to shamefully massive and primitively careless dimensions. We’ve been robbed and raped over and over and over…even into the future already.

7. Religion. This also blinds us to the real issues. We occupy ourselves with satisfying our religious fantasies as a way to overcome the frustrations of the society, or seek to assert the dominance of one religion over the other.

As I said, these issues outlined above keep recurring through our history.

We have had our moments in which we thought our deliverance had come and things would now change for the better from then on but, in retrospect, we would either be proved wrong or there would be a setback.

This is why I try to keep two perspectives in mind to the present moment. The present perspective and the history perspective. I interpret the moment for what it represents but also keep in mind how the moment will be seen 30 years down the line. Will the euphoria be justified? Will the gains be consolidated? Will the hero now remain hero then? Will the villain now remain villain then? Is this just a cycle again?

I hope we can break the jinx of errors in this present dispensation.

History will tell if we did.


God help Mr. President.

God help the Federal Republic of Nigeria.


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SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS/Stories from boarding school Pt.7

Back then in FGC Idoani, hostel life was neither here nor there. All depended on how each person saw it. However, I know that it formed a major part of the bond of brotherhood that developed amongst us as we sailed through school, and through life after, up till now.

Our school was a mixed school. There should be no overlooking that. Even though most of my stories is told from the experiences I had as a boy in the school.

The boys’ hostel was made up of five C-shaped blocks that were arranged in a zigzag fashion on undulating ground.

Because of the C-shape of the blocks, each hostel had a central space that was used for a number of purposes. Majorly playing football and lining up for early morning distribution of duties by the House Prefect.

Each block had four rooms in each arm of the C-shape. There were also what we called inner rooms that were reserved for prefects and respected seniors.

In the part of the building linking the arms were locker rooms, both inner and outer. There were four inner locker rooms as there were four outer locker rooms.


You see, from what we saw when we were there, these ‘locker rooms’ used to be bathrooms and laundry areas. Each inner locker room was formerly a row of bathrooms now turned ‘inner cells’ and each outer locker room was formerly a washing area, with slabs.

I remember my first week of resumption in JSS1 which ran between Tuesday, November 12 and Sunday, November 17, 1996. I was so lonely. God! I was withdrawn into myself. I think my entire physiology resonated with the struggles of my soul that first week because I didn’t, or couldn’t, move my bowels for a week. The environment seemed so strange and harsh to me. Oppressive seniors. Sharper mates. Tough weather. Eerie myths & fables. Far away from home & family. Poor living conditions.

There is the story of BushBabies that are short beings that carry lanterns and mats and roam around the hostel at nights. I never saw one.  I heard of Madam Ko-Ko-Ka, whose high heeled shoes made noise as she walks through the rooms at night. And other mysterious fables. I’ve always been curious about the origin of these stories and if they were ever real.

Behind each hostel, there was a piece of cemented land fenced around with an opening left for entrance…and a tiny gutter running through the center of the fenced area. That was our bathroom. Fifty people can be having their bath at once. All the bath soap that some need is just to rub the bath soap on their heads like thick crayon before going to the bathroom; it is that soap they’ve put on their heads that supplies the soap needed for the whole bath. You could be bathing, with soap in your eyes, and your bucket of water disappears from your front…or water is stolen from the bucket….especially by those students who are late for breakfast or Assembly ground and still don’t have water for bathing. Bad boys. Later in the afternoon, when the hot Idoani sun has dried the bathroom, it becomes a cooking arena.

The toilet was also close to the bathroom. Pit system….with vertical slabs partitioning the pits. I’ll spare you the more horrible details.

At least twice or thrice, the basis for dividing students into hostel blocks was changed. Initially, it was each House to each hostel block while the fifth (but centrally located) block was reserved for JSS3 students, and thus called JSS3 Block. At another time, we were divided into blocks based on our classes…and each House given two rooms in each hostel block. Later, the system was reverted back to the former system of House by House.

I cannot remember the precise year, but I know I was sleeping in one of the rooms (room next to Prefect Michael Elue’s inner room) in Owena house, when the JSS3 Block caught fire in the middle of the night. It was Mrs. Ifelola, wife of our Senior Boarding House Master, who was supplying detergent which we mixed with water and sand to quench the fire. It consumed the locker rooms. I still don’t know what started the fire….or maybe I knew then but can’t remember now.

I was the victim of several punishments by seniors and prefects. One that readily comes to mind is when I was absent on an Inspection Day. Inspection days are Saturdays…and every student is expected to be present. I chose to ‘stab’ on this particular Inspection Day. I went to hide in class. I got back to the hostel and all the students of my block were asked to line up outside. Somehow, those of us who were absent for Inspection were fished out. We were asked to squat. I can’t remember very clearly who the particular prefect was. Boy! My legs were shaking from squatting. I had to bend my knees forward while keeping my back straight and stretching my hands out in front of me. After about maybe fifteen minutes of doing that, the prefect began to propose a deal: that those who preferred to be flogged with the belt can opt out of the squating ordeal and be ‘belted’ instead. The more you squatted, the less flogging you got when you couldn’t squat anymore. I chose to continue squatting till I was later released. My knees were weak and I was sweating, but grateful to be released. I used to be very scared of being flogged.

How about mounting bunks while your behind and your back are being beaten to redness and wheals.

For a period of time, I and some of my friends, formed the habit of drinking garri together. Garri mixed with sugar, milk and groundnuts. Shared from the same bowl, or bucket, as the case may be. It was a special delicacy. We would go to the borehole area in the evening and enjoy ourselves. Everyone contributed something. We took it almost every night like a cult. We even named our group ‘DruGaze’. ‘Gaze’ was the slang in school for Garri. ‘Dru’ was taken from the name of the Sisqo group, DruHill.

Lastly, in this piece, I’ll talk about ‘Last Night’. The eve of the last day of every term in school was called Last Night. The tradition was that you reserved some of your provisions till that night for gluttonous consumption alone, or with friends. It could be a pack of cornflakes, a pack of biscuits, a tin of sardine, milk, blackcurrant juice and the like. Just to celebrate ‘Last Night’. Or you could just go to sleep.


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SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS/Stories from boarding school Pt.6

FGC Idoani was a big parcel of land enclosed by forest and farmlands. In front of the school gate ran an expressway that passed through Idoani and (as I was told) led to Idogun (another community), to Kogi State and then on to Abuja. One of my regrets in adventure today was that I never went farther up that expressway beyond the point of the school gate to see the places where it actually led to, except maybe just a few metres walking.


In front of the school gate was a hilltop centre for refreshment and relaxation. It was a single bungalow, with small bush on each side, and it was called SESWA, which stood for Senior Staff Welfare Association. They offered restaurant services, and I think people used to watch football games there too. Even though by the name it was meant for Senior Staff, trust students. We used to find our way there. I can still remember going there with Tunde Saheed, and our fantasy discussions of whether to go home that term ending by ‘Luxy’ (a pre-arranged transport arrangement for students with luxurious buses). I think there was also a sawmill beside SESWA.

Back to the school. The school compound was ‘fenced’ around with barbed wire. However, several portions of this barbed wire fence had been distorted to allow for secret, illegal passage to ‘town’.

The way the school rules dictate, when any student wants to go to ‘town’, he is expected to write a formal letter seeking permission to go to town and stating the purpose of his going. The student will then look for a teacher or housemaster to append his signature to the letter. Well, it wasn’t that easy. Firstly, teachers were not so willing to be the one who let you go out. So that brought some reluctance to the signing. Secondly, students cannot be trusted. The purpose we state in the letter was usually different from what we were really going to do. That too brought some skepticism to the transaction of signing permissions and sometimes outright refusal to sign. When you are lucky to have a signed permission, the next thing would be to march to the gate, present your signed permit and be let out the gate like a free man. The atmosphere outside the gate always smells different. You felt free!


An example of a written and signed permission at FGC Idoani

But not everyone went through the trouble of getting signed permits. Many of us took the ‘holes’ in the barbed wire. There were at least two points. One was behind the class area. Another was behind the hostel area, close to my hostel (Alani House). There was also another way to go out without permission. You could just boldly walk out of the gate. Right. Just walk out with the gatemen looking at you. And that was my own style occasionally. And several other students. You would simply have to target your escape to around closing time from class as if you were a day student. It was risky. You could be questioned as you made to walk out in broad daylight…and you would respond with a straight face and an unruffled mood that you were a day student. Or in some cases, no one would even question you, already assuming you were a day student. To make my cover further real, I would return to school the next morning and enter like a day student. I had a guardian’s place in town I could usually sleep over in.

Still on that permission letter thing, we also used to recycle it. When you write a permission letter, you don’t put a date. And even when your housemaster signs it for you, and puts a date with his signature, no shaking. After you use it for the first time, you keep the signed letter. And each time…you transform the date into the new date. I did that too a few times.

Depending on whether you had a signed permit or not, and other factors, we usually walked the entire distance from school to town. It was just a lonely expressway flanked on either sides by hills and forests and farms. Maybe the walk used to last like 20-30 mins or so. Occasionally when you heard a motorcycle or car coming , you quickly hid behind the bushes to avoid any unnecessary confrontation. It could be a crazy teacher. Especially when you know you are carrying a manipulated permission letter or you sneaked out. I remember having to lie down in the bush by the side of the road one day as Mr. Ijadiyi zoomed past on his bike. He was a very dark-complexioned and bearded man; we used to call him ‘Bush Limo’ behind his back.

Things we went outside school to do usually included but were not limited to buying stuff at the market, buying Iyan (pounded yam) and egusi/efo with bush meat, drinking alcohol (palm wine too), watching football games on TV, calling home at the NITEL office…and so on. For the Iyan delicacy, ten students could send one student to buy for them, and the soup would be sold in nylon.  Broad street was the name of my favorite restaurant. Hilltop, tiny, and one-room with a few benches and tables, and plastic colored jugs that held water for drinking and washing your hands.

There’s this unique experience I had.

It was likely a Saturday. Boys were in the hostel, idle and hungry for some action and adventure. So we decided to visit ‘Cashland’.

Cashland is used to refer to the forest area behind the main school area, from where we could get cashew. And it was an adventure because those areas were usually cultivated by Ebira farmers….and there were stories that those Ebira people didn’t like students’ presence on their farms. All that wasn’t enough to stop us though.

A group of us, including Tope ‘Isobo’ Falasinu, Deji ‘Omohard’ Omole, Tope ‘Moze’ Fadimiluyi, Tunji Alley, maybe Tayo Ogunjemilua and myself. If there were others on that adventure, I don’t remember who they were clearly. We set out with our sack to bring cashew home.

The journey began from the hostel. Like a treasure hunt. We must have passed by ‘Red land’, I think. We advanced further into the bush. And further we went. Then we came upon a cashew tree. One of us, Isobo, climbed up the tree to begin the process of what we had come to do. Pluck cashew.

Suddenly, we heard the sound of approaching footsteps. Ghen-ghen! Then the figure appeared in the distance. An elderly ebira farmer, cutlass in one hand, hoe on his shoulder, was walking towards us. We quickly signaled to Isobo on the tree to come down fast. And we had started to brainstorm for the perfect lie to tell the man or prepare for the worst case scenario which would be to run as fast as we could. Isobo had hurriedly slid down the tree and had been injured on his forearm in the process. But we didn’t care about the injury in the moment, not even the injured did. We all stood on edge and at alert as the Ebira man passed by and we managed to mumble a greeting as respectfully, confidently and cautiously as we could.

The worst moment had passed, so it seemed. That’s when we looked at Isobo’s forearm. The injury was like a fresh tribal mark. Three or four long, bloodied lines had been drawn on his forearm. We said ‘Pele’ (Sorry) and moved on. We agreed that we would tell people in the hostel that we actually got into a fight with the Ebira and that that was how Isobo got that injury. Just to acquire hero status.

Well, the cashew adventure still turned out a success. We went on and on raiding the cashew trees we could find and returned to the hostel with a heavy load of cashew.

We ate or drank cashew…and I think we got drunk with it. I remember that Moze and I were drinking the cashew on the grass outside…and after I had become so full of cashew, I was dancing to this famous tune of  ‘Gau lepa’ by Awilo Logonmba. That was how Moze stamped me with the nickname ‘Gau’. A nickname some of my old friends kept calling me years after we had left Idoani.



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SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS/Stories from boarding school Pt. 5

Water is a life necessity. We just cannot do without it.

Not surprisingly, water was a very important factor that influenced our daily lives at FGC Idoani.

We had an area that was designed for fetching our water from. We called it the ‘borehole’ area, or just ‘borehole’. It was far removed from the hostels. Going to borehole was like a ten-minute trek minimum, from my own hostel. On the way there, you would cross the road leading to the staff quarters, descend one hill, walk across a basketball playing area, pass through bushes and then reach the borehole. Funny journey.

At the borehole, there were maybe five to seven taps and big tanks. From there, you could see the staff quarters, and there was a path that led from the borehole to the staff quarters and some other hostels like Bola Olaniyan and Niger, or the former ‘White House’ and ‘Yellow House’, areas that used to be dreaded among (junior) students before they got declassified and hostel buildings assigned based on houses and not classes.

There was another path that led to the second section of the staff quarters (where Mr. Egarevba and Mr. Okoli stayed) and the Red land areas.

Also, from the borehole, there was another path that led to the class area. At the peak of fetching water among students, borehole usually looked like market day in a small village.

Especially on weekends, on afternoon/evening on weekdays, you would see students washing their clothes at the borehole, among the grasses and shrubs. While washing, the shrubs were your friend, because it was on them you would put your washed clothes after washing before rinsing, and after rinsing. Each student hardly had more than one bucket. Some would take their clothes to wash around that basketball court area, while playing music from their multipurpose rechargeables and gisting all the way. Others would even go along to the borehole with garri, or cornflakes/Golden Morn, to first take before starting to wash.

After washing, you could take your clothes to the hostel to spread. Most times, the cloth lines are already filled and you either spread them on the grass or bring out the metal bunk, make it stand on its side, and use hangers to hang your wet clothes on it to dry.

By the way, you may not meet your clothes. ‘The owner’ may have come to fap (steal) it/them.

Some go to the borehole to wash their plates and cutleries.

Apart from washing, some come to the borehole just to drink water directly from the tap. From the hostel, from class, after labour, from the field or from the dining hall.

Fetching water back to the hostel was also another ‘adventure’. Some carried two buckets on two hands, some with one on the head and one with the hand, some just one bucket either on the head or with the hand, others kegs, some a bucket and a keg….and so on.

Now, the scary part is here.

On your way back to the hostel with your water, you could meet a very thirsty senior, who asks you to bring the bucket of water on your head closer, and he dips his mouth into the water while it is on your head. He gulps away like a camel. You are boiling underneath him as your head vibrates with each gulp, and the bucket on your head gradually becomes lighter. Assuming  you met two of such seniors on your way to the hostel. Your bucket of water may have been halved before you get to the hostel. In some cases, a senior can even collect the entire bucket of water.

Some ‘sharp’ people fetch their water in the evening/night. But this can also be a risk. You find a place to keep your water either in your cupboard-locker or under a locker room slab somewhere only to wake up the next day and its gone! You’ll be lucky to still find the empty bucket there. Or how about some extremely playful guy stumbles on your locker and it falls to the side, and your water flows. Some of us also had kegs for keeping our drinking water.

Another popular occurrence is errands from seniors. When you hear ‘One boy, Last person!!!’, you start running in the direction of the call….because the last person to show up among those who show up gets sent on the errand. Many are called but few, or only one, are chosen. Years later, when I heard someone pray that ‘when you call one person, 200 people will answer’, my mind went back to my alma mater. E don tey. The errand could include fetching water, washing clothes, going to buy something from the tuck shop, massaging the senior’s body and so on.

On some occasions when there was scarcity of water at the borehole, I can still remember some of the funny things that happened. Crazy.

People would be hunting for water like game. There is a hilly, slopy and bushy path that leads from the basketball court area to the back of the music lab area. On the path, there was a well. Abandoned well. The water in it was dirty as anything you could think of. Boys would fetch the water and filter it with a white cloth so as to get water to bathe. O ga mehn.

Then, there were all kinds of skin disease. And I can say that it was majorly because of poor hygiene & sanitation, and then maybe overcrowding. Scabies was the most popular of the skin diseases. I had my own share too in junior days. Painful, itchy and deep sores that would decorate one’s hands and legs, regularly visited by houseflies that cannot be shaken off. I still have some of the scars from these sores on my legs as I type this.

Sores that remind me of Idoani.


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SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS/Stories from boarding school Pt.4

In FGC Idoani, there were nights and there were NIGHTS.

The hall I described in Pt.3 of this series is the hall where one of these NIGHTS used to take place.

Our social nights. In other words, our party nights. *whistles*

You see, I do not even know who determined when social nights held nor do I know how they did..all I knew was that social nights were always mouth-watering to attend. And maybe the school authority didn’t care what we did and had just left us to ourselves.

On a typical social-night day, the atmosphere amongst students would be different, charged with anticipation. Boys would have been invited from sister FGCs around such as FGC Ibilo and one or two others that I can’t remember for sure. As guest artistes.

As evening approaches, the speakers are already being mounted in the hall, the tables and benches being arranged to create a space at the centre of one arm of the hall (the arm closer to the new girls’ hostel)…this was also the arm that had an elevated wooden stage or platform.

For those who had mufti, you would see boys ‘baffing up’ to the hilt! Note that mufti had different levels. From the cheap-casual to the designer-special. There were those who had Timberland boots, RocaWear chain tags, doo-rags, Nike wristbands & headbands, nice perfumes, jeans and shirts.  I was a ‘ju-man’ then when it came to ‘socials’. I didn’t have anything to wear…except my uniform house wears…green chequered shirts and brown trousers…but I would still wear it in a way that made me feel fly…maybe like not tucking in, not buttoning up thereby exposing my inner shirt or wha-ever. I had to feel among.

The trending music tracks then would be blaring from the speakers. Even if you had initially decided you wouldn’t be attending the party, the sound reaching you in the hostel and the quiet boredom surrounding you would make you change your mind.

We had a Christian community among students who believed that it was sinful for a Christian student to attend socials. Ah!…it was tough for me o. Maybe I tried once not to…and it was hard. Apart from the Christian community expectations, there were also those who just felt it wasn’t worth attending jare. The ‘Ki la n ba ka’ (Socials is not worth the trouble) category. They would rather go to sleep or go and fetch water at the borehole area for the next day than go for socials.

Maybe there were other items on the agenda at the social nights…but the part I remember most is the ‘miming’. Miming was what made me go for socials.

A track would have been chosen by one or two people and they would have rehearsed pseudo-performing the songs on social nights…while the song played…the performer poses like he’s the one singing, making all the movements with his hands and doing dance steps too. Several performances like that.

Kai! It was always exhilarating. I remember some of those miming sessions. Henry Akinniyi, Reuben Okoroafor, Yemi Ipeme ‘Timbolo’ Ademulegun, Tunde ‘Mase’ Aruwajoye, Frank Eigbe…..and so on. These were some of those who featured in the miming sessions. All I did was wish I could be the one miming. The most I did was mime in the hostel with the likes of Tunji Alley, Deji Omole, Tola Osasona, Tope Falasinu, Jide Oyetosho, Sogo Alafe, Tope Fadimiluyi,…and so on as we blasted music from cassette tapes playing in our rechargeable lamps/cassette players (Senca, Carnival, Rivers….some of the brand names of those machines). All those favorite DMX rap tracks .e.g. ‘Black & White’, Sisqo (Unleash the Dragon), R.Kelly (Fiesta) and so on.

These were some of our pastimes. I don’t think I was ever bored in school. There were uncountable things to do.

So back to the social nights at the hall, after the miming sessions comes the general dancing sessions where everyone would quickly give expressions to all the fantasies they had in their heads while watching the mimers earlier, before the generator goes off.

Some ‘blocking’ would still take place between boys and girls by the side of the hall…but I for don commot.

People would return to the hostels gisting about this song and how that mimer killed it…and this person’s dressing and all.

How social nights go.


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