This narrative typed is not forged or with salt and pepper. It is narrated exactly how it happened.
On the 6th of April 2016, we sat in class and my focus was on the script at my front. The test was impromptu but I tried my best. Then suddenly we heard loud singing outside. “We no go gree o!” They chanted. Some excited students joined in the singing whilst having their test!! The lecturer smiled and closed the door to drown the noise. But the noise grew louder. After the class, we all ran out to see what was going on. Some set of students were running around. I was sure they were above 100 level. They were chanting loudly and some people joined them including girls. They moved out of the faculty(art). “Why are they protesting?” A girl asked no one in particular. “They said no light and water. And it’s getting to the date of exam.” A boy answered. The girl looked happy and ran off. After a while, their numbers increased. They had gotten forces. Then they returned to the faculty. I believed that was the end. I believed wrongly.
On the 7th of April 2016, I was on my laptop typing when i heard loud noises. Again. This time they were entering the hostel (Amina) . “What do they want?” My roommate asked. “Protesting against the condition of the school. But we have light and water even though not 24/7 and it hasn’t gotten to the stage of protest.” I replied peering out of the window.
The boys began to shout “Join us in the protest!” I could see girls getting dressed and running downstairs to join them. They moved to the next hostel (Kofo Hall) and their numbers increased. “There’s blocked the gate.” A girl informed. I didn’t have the motive of going outside school. I was going to see my friend then attend my class. I thought the class would hold. Prof Daramola would still hold his class, I believed. There was no cab to convey me to Makama Bida Hall. I walked there and felt like I was in a different environment. The road was filled with people and cars were not moving. Mehn people will regret coming to unilag today, I said to myself. I got to the hostel in less than 30mins and entered her room. She was all dressed up and I ran to see her cake. “Happy Birthday Tayo!” I greeted. We were waiting for the rest to turn up and I got hungry. “Any work!” She called. A woman entered and took our orders. She arrived with our foods.
Then we heard screams. From the window we could see Fagunwa girls scampering around. The boys had invaded. This time it was by-force protest. I saw them whip some girls. We were horrified. “What should we do?” Tayo cried. Like a flash, we heard the masculine voices. “All of you come downstairs!! Now!” They commanded. I ran to hide behind the locker. We bolted the door and waited in fear. They were already on our floor.
“Open this door!” They ordered. We scampered about. Then bam! They broke it open. A tall muscular man stood by the door with a branch in his hand. “Come outside!” He shouted. “Please let us dress.” I begged. He left shortly. A girl began to cry and call her mother. We began packing our things. My other attention rested on the cake. Poor cake.
They returned to the hostel and we heard “They are locking the hostels!” I didn’t know if I was to run or stay. They banged our door again but not for long. They left and… Locked us in the hostel. The hostel was almost empty. Some girls were locked outside and some were forced to protest. It was not funny. Girls were treated like slaves. A girl was having her bath and her water was thrown away. She cried as she came out. These people protesting were students like us. They were all panicking in our rooms and Tayo was calling her father endlessly. I sat eating my food. Mehn I can’t die. My roommates called me, “They chased us out of the hostel. I hope you are alright.” they asked. Of course I was.
After a while, the gate was open. We took pictures with the cake and cut it. Birthday will still go on mehn. I bade goodbye and walked to darkness. I got to Amina hall and met pitch darkness. The lights were all off. I entered my room and they looked bewildered. “Did they flog you?” They requested. “Nope. I am a jagaban. See no be mouth.” I boasted. My hair was on fire. “They chased us out. We were trying to avoid going out. They even emptied the bin on one girl.” They added. I had a shocking look on my face. I was tired and hungry. The little lunch I had was hours ago. The room was very hot. Opening the door and window would invite mosquitoes. We sat like dejected fowls. I brought out a blade and my roomie helped in loosening my hair. I felt free. My body ached and itched. “Please call your uncle.” I urged one of my roommate whose uncle worked with Unilag’s phcn. “He said this evening we would be given light.” She assured. There was also no water. Our eyes were focused on our pots of stew. It was going to get spoilt soon. My phone was very low.
Then the light came on. There were piercing screams of joy. We ran to warm our stew. There was still no water. Our buckets laid empty. I sat to complete the job on my laptop. I had only 2 hours sleep. By 5a.m the next day, still up, I prepared Spaghetti with my little stew. My roommates made breakfast ranging from different delicacies. I wish we didn’t. Very early that morning, we had gotten water. I had received a call earlier from Yemi to evacuate the hostel in the morning. I had the plan to, but not that early.
We heard screams “Evacuate the hostel!”. It was like a joke. I was confused. I jumped to the bathroom to have my bath. The situation of the bathroom was epic. I covered my nose as I had a quick bath praying they didn’t show up. I dressed up and packed my dirty clothes. I had the plan to stay at a friend’s place outside school. I dished my food and covered the empty pot. “The gate is locked. We can’t go anywhere! Hoodlums are flogging people outside.” A girl cried. Panic mode was on. I was left in the room. My roommates had all gone home. I was still contemplating. I had less than 200naira with me. It couldn’t take me anywhere. I finally locked the door when the situation got heated. “Tear gas will be sprayed if you don’t leave before 10a.m!” The hall mistress shouted.
The gate was not blocked afterall. It was all a rumour. The sun was crazy. The roads were crowded. There were barely buses. I could see myself pleading with the ATM machine to dispense. No luck. I looked like fried plantain. My face cap helped a lot from the sun.
“Yemi where are you?” “Inside school. “He responded. There was no functioning ATM around. I was stranded. I had the plan of getting money from my friend to go home. But he was locked inside. Yes, they finally locked the gates and soldiers were around with their vans. There was no movement. The roads were blocked. People began jumping the gates.
ULSU(UNILAG STUDENT UNION) were hindering students from going outside. The soldiers wanted students to evacuate. It became a battle between ULSU and the soldiers. Students were dragged back from climbing the gates. The soldiers used their van to force open the gate and the protestants locked it back. Every entrance and exit was blocked. I saw a friend and asked how he escaped from inside. “I passed the canal.” He responded. “Yemi pass the canal” I advised my friend on the phone. ” Are you mad? They are chasing us away from the gate. We are stranded.” He replied in a casual tone. After so long and so many phone calls, I decided to enter iyana Ipaja bus like that. I was going to beg the driver. “Only if someone can lap me.” I lamented. Then an Angel said “Oya come.” I sat on her legs and paid 100naira for the bus fare. I got to iyana ipaja and took 100naira bus home with the change left.
“Yemi where are you?”
“I passed the Canal. “
SIMISOLA SOWOLE, Faculty Of Art, Department of English, University of Lagos.