Sunday, January 22, 2012

Pacoliso....Chapter 4..."Aluta...b4 Paco"

The term Aluta Continua really didnt hold much meaning to a 200-level Engineering Student. Life revolved around attending classes, praying for good grades and hoping that the dreaded spectre of an ASUU strike never reared its head again. The last strike was brutal, it lasted 6 months and had even the most hard-core atheists praying for divine intervention. For Samurai, the strike had been spent poring over books, making promises to God in exchange for an end to the strike and daydreaming about life outside the shores of 9ja. So when the strike was eventually called off, his joy knew no bounds. He never imagined in his wildest dreams that he would miss the chaos of Aminu Kano Hall or the useless banter the hall residents exchanged to pass time.

Life progressed smoothly till one faithful day, when the stubborn horns of "Aluta" popped up. The day started off just like any regular day, waking up to cries of "Akara and bread" as child-hawkers announced their wares down the corridors, a mix of different soundtracks ranging from Celine Dion to Backstreet Boiz to gospel music...The Aminu Kano Hall Block C residents portrayed a mix of the good, bad and the downright ridiculous. Around noon, word quickly spread around campus that there was a student demonstration/uprising. No one could say with certainty what the problem was, but for some odd reason, the Student Union Government (SUG) was protesting some random issue. In the spirit of Aluta, the SUG president had gingered students to march to the VC's lodge to protest. Before you could whistle a tune, the students had gathered infront of the VC's lodge carrying a casket and proceeded to burn an effigy infront of his abode.

In typical dictatorship fashion, the VC ordered that the school be shut down and directed that ALL students vacate the hostel before the break of dawn the next day. As expected, the Aluta singers vanished faster than a unicorn on the streets of Rumuola, one second you could hear their voices, the next all you could see was smoke tendrils. Anyway, the residents of Aminu Kano Hall laughed at the VC's directive. "Vacate to where"?, they asked, AKH was home! Moreover there was a soccer game between Nigeria and Brazil that evening. People swore to resist and stay till the rapture took place if necessary, no threat of police brutality was going to intimidate them.

As the rays of the sun fizzled out, Samurai noticed that a few residents had started to slink out of the Halls like vampires before sunrise. But the mood in the hostel was still party-like. There were numerous open pots of food with their owners hovering around with concentration and puzzled/ecstatic looks on their faces depending on the taste of their concotion. By nightfall, the student population had reduced by 50%. Being an out-of-state student, Samurai didn't have any other alternatives apart from Aminu Kano Hall. He had a cousin living in Woji, but he didnt see any reason why he had to leave, school was still rocking afterall. That night, the disappointed residents watched Brazil wallop Nigeria by 3 goals, whilst some argued about what went wrong, others turned up their CD players and blasted music...till the last stars in the sky faded. They laughed at the VC's threat, nothing had happened since the eviction decree, "professional noisemaker" they labelled him in derision...whilst dancing to Afrobeat tunes

The next morning Samurai woke up to news that Armed Soldiers were camped right at the school gate. At first he didnt believe it till he walked outside his room and noticed that "JJ Chopinson" was holding court in front of Wing E. J-J was animated in his description...
"Nna men, the MOPOL (mobile police) just full everywhere. Dem carry gun and dem no dey smile at all"

"But we go show dem pepper today, dem no fit try any nonsense!"

"Greatest Nigerian Students, dem no fit comot us from we house, dem go hear am today"

Samurai wasn't too convinced. While the residens tempers and anger boiled at the audacity of the soldiers, Samurai quickly packed a small bag. There were talks about joining forces with the residents of the other halls: Kwame Nkrumah Hall extension, Nelson Mandela Mall and the Medical Hostel hall, to protest the presence of the soldiers. While the Aluta warlords were still marshalling out their strategy, the stampede of running feet could be heard building up. Samurai couldn't recall how things transpired next, the first soldier came bursting through the gates of Aminu Kano, wielding a horse whip, and all hell broke loose...The nimble footed took off with speed that would have surprised Usain Bolt, some in boxer shorts, others fully dressed, the wall was vaulted with ease like it was the Olympics... It was madness! Residents running with pots of soup and stew... A few rooms away, a resident tried to shield his pot of food from the whips of a soldier, he looked ready to die in defense of his food, finally he succumbed to the fury of the whip and fled. Within 30minutes, the resistance had been broken, the residents gathered in small groups to lick their wounds and plot their next move. Every uprising needs a hero, the aluta warlords had long fled, JJ Chopinson was no where to be found.

Walking along the streets of Choba with his few valued possessions in his small carry-on bag, Samurai realized that his life in Aminu Kano was ticking to an end. He ran into Shimon on the road with a group of other friends, they had escaped from Kwame Nkrumah Hall before the soldiers arrived, the plans to move off-campus were laid during that period...

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