By Victor Akpabio
I have decided to keep this diary of a schoolboy growing up in these harsh times in Lagos, the toughest city to grow and live in as a kid. I am a kid of 15. My name is Victor Akpabio, a student of St. Gregory’s College, Lagos. South-West, Ikoyi, Lagos. I am in SS2.
Born and bred in Lagos, this is the only city I have known, the city of my childhood, the city I love so well, in spite of everything.
Let me start with my school. I started my primary school education at St. Catherine’s Model School in Yaba. From there, I proceeded to my current school. At the primary school, we were taught moral and spiritual aspects of life. This was a Catholic school which won’t tolerate bad behaviour. I left as Assistant Head Boy with a very good record. I knew I had to work hard not to disappoint my parents. As the first born, my kid sister and my little brother all looked up to me. I had to show good example.
My typical day begins with morning prayers with the whole family. It is not easy waking up because sleep is so sweet. You have to fight to overcome sleep to be able to start a new day. Sometimes you could be dozing while praying. After prayers, you dash to the bathroom, then dress up for school. Breakfast is always hot and compulsory. Mother does not like us leaving home on empty stomach.
You could hear mum’s voice hurrying us up because the school bus is waiting for us at the main gate of our street, some metres away from home. This school bus came in due to the pitiable situation our parents saw and do not wish we suffer to go to school by public transports in this hustling and bustling Lagos roads. Without a school bus, it’s a real war out there, going to school, fighting your way among adults all wanting to get into the crowded bus where you could be suffocated.
The school bus is forty thousand naira per child (40,000). That means we are to pay one hundred and twenty thousand naira for the three of us. That is quite a fortune in these harsh times. While some parents pay their money at once, our parents will struggle to pay ours as many times as four to five times. I am saying this because I feel bad sometimes because at my age now 15 years, I should know what is happening around me. It is not that the money is there but I could see in them that they don’t want us to suffer, stress ourselves or dirty our school uniforms which is white with our white canvas.
In school, we do have the morning assembly by 7.30, after which the day’s work starts. Here at St. Gregs, there is no space for idleness in this prestigious college managed by our amiable administrator, Rev Father. Ayeni who tries to see we walk the right path morally and academically.
Growing up, it is easy to be influenced by peer groups. So many kids have been misled by friends. My parents tell me to beware of which friends I pick. There are many pranks being played by some students ranging from stealing to all kinds of immoral acts, especially examination malpractices. Knowing the kind of home I come from and the frequent warnings of my mummy who always drums it into my ears that I should remember the son of whom I am, she do tell me that I should desist from any act that will tarnish the good image of our family name. With these warnings, I always caution myself greatly so that I won’t disappoint her. I always ask myself: How can I pay my parents back with all the care and affection towards me and the younger ones than to face my studies squarely?
In a way, I am lucky. Some children are not too lucky because I see some school children trekking to and fro to school while I am enjoying the luxury bus but with hardship from my parents. So I decided that the only way to make them happy is for me to study hard and come out in flying colours. Thank God my efforts are not in vain because since I gained admission into this college, I have been very outstanding in my studies and just on the 27th, September, 2016, our Administrator, Rev. Fr. Ayeni called me out to give me an award: “MERIT AWARD FOR ACADEMICS” for having 10 A’s in the last promotional examination. I felt on top of the world because it was given to me on the assembly ground with other students and teachers alike watching and clapping.
The reward for this award is that the Administrator promised to give me double ration of food, 2 pairs of canvas and a special table and seat at the Dining Hall. I got home and showed my parents and my parents hugged me and prayed that this is just the beginning of good things that God has started to do in my life and they also told my younger ones to emulate me. My mum went into the kitchen and cooked a sumptuous delicacy for us all as dinner that night. I felt so proud. Apart from education, this great school is also well known for sports and I am fortunate to be in the school relay team. I would have loved to be in the school football team but this is only for the boarders and since my parents cannot afford putting me in the boarding house, there is nothing I can do about that. I really envy those in the boarding house.
Outside academics, I have won medals in sports. I can boast of 3 gold medals and 2 silver during our last Inter-House Sports and a Plaque Award for the “BEST STUDENT IN SPORT” (JUNIOR) 2014-2015 session.
In all, these achievements do not just come on a platter of gold but come through vigorous training and learning because I have vowed to excel so that I can help and take good care of my parents in future. It has been so tough for my parents but they always tell us the children to believe in God alone because there is NOBODY to help us as a family except God. And truly, our God has NEVER DISAPPOINTED us in times of trouble nor forsaken us.
How will I write all these without mentioning what is happening in this great country of ours? Nigeria is so blessed with human and natural resources that the citizens need to enjoy forever but due to greed and covetous nature of a few individuals who rob us of our commonwealth, we are in recession. What a shame! Our fathers have disappointed us and let this country down. I watch television a lot and the news today is about skyrocketing foodstuff prices. Things are damn too expensive.
I read a lot. I am reading the autobiography of Usain Bolt “Faster Than Lightning.” It is inspiring. I also read newspapers. I read in one of the dailies how some parents withdrew their children from private school to public school. It’s so sad!
In spite of what we are going through, I still can see light at the end of the tunnel. Things might be so tough now but let us put our trust in God to see us through this period.
How I wish I was already an adult so that I can partake in the development of this country of ours because I am so pleased with the history I read about our founding fathers like the late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa (1912–1966), Chief Obafemi Awolowo (1909–1987), Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (1904–1996) to mention but a few. I read how they fought for this country to be one but it seems that this present generation wants to make their efforts go in vain.
Let us join hands to be great once more because united we stand, divided we fall. LONG LIVE NIGERIA !!! LONG LIVE LAGOS STATE !!! UP GREGS ! UP GREGS !! UP GREGS !!!.