Sunday 30 August 2009

Childhood: Shocked into adolescence

Send the child to our roots

Some memories came flooding in the other day about my childhood or is it my adolescence. Now, whilst I have written extensively about my primary school days, I realise I have barely scratched the surface of the wealth of stories to tell, I believe I would eventually visit those times, nothing would be strictly chronological in presentation I dare say.

My parents even though we lived in the North of Nigeria in Kaduna felt it was necessary I go to secondary school near my ancestral roots in the South where I could learn my father’s mother tongue of Yoruba properly – I never made much academic headway with Yoruba, I barely passed any of the examinations, though I did end up learning something.

They also had this feeling that sending me to boarding school would toughen me up; I had always lived a life of some privilege, much of which has hardly withdrawn once I left the confines of the parent-sanctioned borstal.

Steering to secondary education

So, in January 1976, I was put on a flight to Lagos where an uncle collected me and ensured I was able to attend a number of common entrance examinations to secondary schools – thankfully, there was no socialist fervour about selection, if you did well you did get noticed and get offered a place.

I had also been booked to attend an examination in Ibadan, I cannot remember which school it was but as we drove to the home of my hosts the driver got engaged in some distracting activity with the other kids and I found myself handling the steering wheel of the car with a gorge to the side of the road, the realisation that my turning had dramatic effect must have been seared in my memory that I never touched a steering wheel for another 15 years.

I had to learn the difference between arithmetic which we did in the North and mathematics which was done in the South. Negative numbers? Whose idea was that? I had the services of an aunt who was studying Electrical Engineering at the University of Lagos.

Between a cemetery and a forest

Eventually, a number of offers came, the nearest to my ancestral home was Odogbolu Grammar School, the other was Remo Secondary School in Sagamu where I had very close family.

I had a very terrifying experience when I returned home after 4 months down South when my aunt and our houseboy was chatting about appearances of evil and to the mind of an impressionable 10-year old there was fertile land for imaginations that could produce untold realities.

That night as my parents entertained guests, our kitchen was detached from the main building and as I went to place the dishes out at the washing area, I saw what I believed to be the devil and my life changed completely from then on, I knew fear, I knew terror, I found out that having my parents present did not save me from what my imagination could conjure for my seeing.

Anyway, that meant Odogbolu Grammar School was completely out of the question, the grounds were literally shared with a cemetery, I would have lost my mind if I chose that school.

Preparing for school

When we settled for Remo Secondary School there was the frenzied activity of acquiring uniforms, linen and other essential goods. The instructions seemed muddled, I ended up with grey shorts rather than green ones, and my cutlass was completely unusable for the activity we were to engage in.

The indelible ink of choice was Kandahar, and this was used to label all my effects, the school and house uniforms, the linen, my sandals, my pail, my mattress, my pillow and my metal portmanteau which was acquired from Panteka, the metalworks market in Kaduna – it was black with red dots and it had a hinge link for a padlock.

The first day at school was without much event, we arrived a few days before the seniors apart from the room seniors, fresh students had their own dormitory well away from the seniors.

Eventually, we were allocated our house groups, I was put in Adedoyin House that excelled in coming last in my first 3 years at school, it was a slow start but as soon as we began to settle in the reality of it all began to dawn on all of us.

Thursday 6 August 2009

Anonymous is Legion because they are many

Seeking a comment aggregator

There are a number of blogs where I leave comments and sometimes I would like to have some sort of comment aggregator that draws together all the comments I have left in different places so that I can follow the discussion, if there is any on the matter being commented on.

Generally, my comment would pertain to the subject matter and sometimes to comments written by others but usually on the context and content, very rarely on the person or personality – comments should be about ideas, hopefully.

The infinity comments

I do sometimes agonise about comments that end up as treatises such that you are in an infinity scroll trying to read the whole thing.

This is not helped by the fact that the commenting areas are not subject to the more granular formatting you find in the blog spaces, so people who do not punctuate their commentary end up with rambling text of literary or unstructured diarrhoea.

If I find I am going to make a rather long comment, I put it on my blog and have a URL link in place of my comment. It goes without saying that it is expedient to have your own blog as someone who posts comments because it helps people understand your thinking about issues.

Identities matter

What matters to me most is that I like to engage with people and where commenting systems offer the options for identifying oneself; the worst option to choose is to be anonymous when a name, a reference address, or even a pseudonym can be offered.

I was so irked about a slightly challenging comment recently that I responded thankfully to the pseudonym of the writer, but soon afterwards someone else castigated my comments but offered the identity of Anonymous.

Much as I naturally wanted to respond, I felt without an identity, I could well be whistling in the wind. Others however got engaged with this anonymous thing that I found myself writing another comment and that appears below.

My name is Legion

I don't know why anyone is giving this anonymous whatever any oxygen.

Someone without a clear identity cannot have a personality and a focus to engage with.

It reminds of the person Jesus met at the tombs and Jesus asked his name, he answered, My name is [Anonymous, sorry] Legion (Wikipedia), because we are many. {The man was demon possessed.}

Makes you wonder which one of the multiple personality Anonymouses masquerading as one person you are engaging with.

It is the simple reason why I rarely engage with people who are afraid to give their opinions a hand of who wrote it and a face of who said it {or a person of who is responsible for it.}

In real life, they will stand for nothing because they identified with nothing, don't make them relevant.

Sniper’s Alley

Anonymous came back later on to commiserate with my frustration, well I was not frustrated, having to deal with the anonymous is very much like walking down Sniper’s Alley and getting shot at by assassins, the question is how you defend yourself against a faceless, unconscionable and unprincipled enemy whose rules of engagement are completely slanted against you?

Except when you are in a totalitarian state where the freedom of expression is curtailed and those with independent opinions risk danger, there is no reason to be anonymous except where you cannot stand by what you have expressed – there could be no clearer expression of cowardice than that and for that reason the Anonymous must remain anonymous, their views invisible and the comments irrelevant.