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Tuesday, 14 March 2017

DIARY OF AN ADVOCATE (EPISODE 3- THE RINGING BELL) by Ebi Robert




Preparation began for the finals against the S.T. Judes Girls Secondary School, Amarata. I was quite ready for the task ahead. It wasn’t easy at all. I got to understand what it means for be a finalist. It is not easy at all. Third place honour tends to be better relieving and the finalists tag, a bunch of ache. The ‘why’ is because it is either one comes out a winner or a loser. If you win, fine. If not, though a second victor, the feeling of a final loser would hunt your time and ego. We just had to give in our best. The topic remained the same, (Youth Restiveness in Niger Delta, who is to blame, the Government or the Community?) only that we picked the side of the Opposers after making a pick. We started research work. Like I said in one of the episodes, I had no phone then, so I relied on my own brain, tasking my head to get something meaningful. I did my personal rehearsal, arguing to myself at home. I must say, I knew little of the English Law of concord by then, but somehow, I was fluent and spoke very fine with a little problem with the “R” letter. I remember when I was in my former High School in Port Harcourt, my Business Studies teacher in one occasion asked me to do an oral exercise which I failed severally. My Business Study Teacher; she was from Igbo and she taught very well. She was one of the teachers I respected so much. She was a disciplinarian.

There was a time I and other friends of mine played under the rain on six-field. Ikechukwu Eze should be part of us that day. Ikechukwu Eze was my best friend in my childhood days. He usually came first in the class after the supposed most brilliant students were taken to the next class from our class to write the Junior WAEC. Ikechuwu Eze loved roasted fish so much, especially the eyes. Then I used to beg him for a little cut which he gave me at will. We got to the residential building where we were being taught, and there I received one of the most painful floggings of my life. The temperature was low because of the rain that fell, so my hands were cold. So when I was flogged, it was so painful. But I was the cause of the severe pain. Somehow I wanted to show that I am strong so I received the strokes from the angry cane without removing my hand even for once. I guess I also did that brave foolish act because I wanted to follow others who had earlier proved to be strong. Remember I said we were taught in a residential building? Yes we were. One day we arrived school, probably after a long trek from Gbundu (Old Bundu) to Victoria Street, we saw our school burnt down. I actually do not know what happened or how it happened, but our school was no more. Many important files were gone. We had to return home. So at the interim we were kept in a residential building believed to be owned by a rich man who was believed to have sacrificed his wife for money rituals. Else, why was no one living in a building as big as that? Many asked. We were all afraid as youngsters. No one knew who will be next or perhaps when some ghosts would pay us a fine visit. Sure there were these tales of angry souls lingering in our head. The building of our school began while we stayed in the said building of the supposed ritualist. Sometimes we had to help in the carrying of stones and sand to help in the building of our school. Many of us worked very hard. Some donations were made by some friends and sympathizers of our proprietor. One of them was the proprietor of Emarid College in Port-Harcourt; one of the best private schools in Rivers State. I also heard that an insurance company released some funds in getting the building erected.

We got to our school for the rehearsal; I mean my School in Yenagoa; the school in which the debating was held. A panel was set up as usual to hear us argue. Apart from some regular faces, there was always a change in the faces that sat to access us. They listened to us argue and made some corrections and contributions to improve our arguments. Abraham Dolor had so many points and was able to finish them all in the short time allocated to him. He was again made the third speaker as it were in the first stage. Igiri Deinamearo was made the second speaker, (Deputy Senior Prefect [DSP] in my time), and I was made to return to my first speaker’s position. The burden increased more than a triple. I had to lead the team to success. Can I actually do it? Can we be able to defeat those girls? I asked myself. We got ourselves prepared and the day eventually came. We ought to have been led by at least a teacher, or at most, the social mistress, but somehow we were told we are going alone to NTA, Yenagoa for the finals. So we went. One girl by name Sweeters, a very little girl who happened to be the daughter of our Chemistry teacher was a member of the Bench warmer; a position I once occupied. We had at least three to four students who fanned us. We arrived at the venue and saw our opponents. As it is usual with me, I acted as if I knew nothing. It had always being in my character to act low, and my face always helped me in achieving that. To make that look better, I spoke in pidgin with everyone. I believe some of my opponents, were like: is this one a debater at all? But I just do not care. I love my pidgin, so I continued. But something got me flabbergasted; I found out that some of the girls were busy reading a pornography magazine. I was satisfied about what I used to hear about Government girls schools. A typical one is the Government Girls Secondary School at Habour Road in Port-Harcourt popularly known as Habour Road. I had heard about lesbians amongst them, and that even in some case, they go as far as forcefully sexing young boys who entered the school to sell oranges and other stuffs. This got me afraid and I was extremely careful each time I entered girl schools, especially anytime I came in contact with the fat ones. I was like: If this one press you, na die ooo! I had to think so; after all I had heard also that the girls sometimes sex their victims to dead.

I was in thoughts. How can people who want to debate in no time, refresh themselves with a porn magazine instead of debate points? But I wasn’t too bordered. I had seen them debate before and they were good. Maybe they knew what they were doing. It was time for the competition to begin and so we entered the NTA hall. That was the third time I visited NTA, Yenagoa. The staff was organized and the air conditioners working fine. The panel of judges was set, quite intimidating as well and the time keeper who was a youth copper. We sat on our seats preparing for the match to begin, and then, it began. Ebinipre Omolo was the first to speak. She was as good in her first appearance. Her voice remained intimating as it was in the semi finals outing when her school defeated LISA MONTESSORI. But I was kind of calm with a little stage freight though. I focused on her as if the contest was between the both of us. She was the first on the one part and I was the first on the other part. She is Ebi and I am Ebi. So it was good against good. Sure, Ebi is an Ijaw word which means ‘good’. Their second and third speaker spoke and it was our turn. I composed myself and began. I spoke and spoke and I found out that the audience and the panel was paying good attention to me. I had become far better than anticipated. My flow, fluency and persuasive had increased so much. I guess it was as a result of long time practice. I finished and sat down, followed by our second. When Abraham Dolor started speaking I was a little afraid because he might easily go cranky. I had seen him in that mood before when he debated against Gate Way Success Group of Schools. But somehow he scaled through and our first appearance was all fine. At least we had a good draw, I would say. It was time for countering and the good Ebinipre re-appeared. She did her thing with much power and sagacity. She raised fine points and I was impressed. But I always have my way of countering and defending myself. So I came out and started countering their points as usual. But something happened, I had not argued up to half of my time when I heard the bell. I was shocked. Sometime was wrong. It was a mistake so I thought. Sure it was a mistake but a costly one, because I lost balance. By right I ought to have sat down but I didn’t, because I was sure it was a mistake. The time keeper didn’t stop me too, maybe because she knew what she had done. I continued until the bell rang again. I had no other choice than to conclude. I wasn’t happy, because I felt we had lost the match. The ringing bell got me scared. But I was consoled by fellow debaters to calm down.

The results were ready for announcement. My heart started beating faster. Who will win this match? The ringing bell was in my mind, but there was a result to record. We all were with our pens when the marks started coming out from the mouth of the announcer. The marks were recorded but I think I couldn’t figure out who won even with the marks before me. I had never been good with numbers. In fact, I had, and until now, have a phobia for numbers. I caused it all, I remember sometimes jumping out of the window when our mathematics teacher approached the class room. Hardly did I do my mathematics assignments. The mathematics classes were always boring. I only knew the names of the topics but the calculation was one hell of a practice. I couldn’t imagine myself storing all those funny steps in my brain. There was the girl by name Peace. She was one of the best in my class. We both attended Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministries. I always met her to help me with her assignments. Anytime I successfully copied it, I became free, no flogging for that day. If not, I either get flogged or jump out of the window. I and the escapees in my class sometimes stayed in the bush until the class was over, after which we returned to the class. Our Mathematics teacher had a bad leg, so we named him “Alegi”. We always made jest of him not just because of his leg but because of his cane. Our English teacher was one of the teachers with a bad leg as well. He limped each time he walked. He derived so much pleasure in flogging, and his was so funny that he laughed most time he flogged. We had a gossip of him that he got shot in his leg and that was why he limped. There was another teacher of ours who taught us Agricultural Science. He had a big shapeless stomach; hence he goes with the name “Belekuku”. He was sure good for the jesting because he made it easy for us with a shapeless cap he wore almost every day. Each time, he personally measured parts of the grasses for students to cut on Labour Day. Any student who missed out must definitely book a canning day with Belekuku.  He was also good in flogging as well. He hardly accepted any defense for an excuse from anyone. As for me, I hated hard work. In most cases I escaped. I always jump out of the window as usual anytime I see Belekuku coming. Somehow I got myself fixed into a team that worked in our old principal’s ward. There we cut grasses and got ourselves refreshed almost every day with cold coke. We were also given money for transport fare in some cases. Abraham Dolor, and Igirigi were part of the team I guess. Igiri I believe was even the head of the team. With the team I was able to escape further flogging.

The result of the debate was announced and we-------

[STAR ADVOCATE OF THE EPISODE- ABRAHAM DOLOR: Abraham Dolor was a preacher of the gospel back then in my school. In most cases he led the prayer session in my school. He loved the Dictionary so much as well as studies, no wonder he used to come out as the top in his class. Many knew him for his well built vocab. He was one advocate I respected so much. Apart from being good in English, he had a very fine speed. Let us call him “SPEED”. Abraham Dolor can finish twenty points in two minutes. That was one of the reasons he was made the third speaker, so that he can round up our points and summarize for the team. I wasn’t shocked when I heard that he was made the senior prefect boy in his time. I was one class ahead of him. He wanted to read Law too I guess, but somehow he ended up reading another course. Abraham Dolor was a very interesting character. The young man was an orphan. Yet he was able to get himself trained in school. He was into photography business until he got admitted into the Federal University Otueke. He was a student of that school until I heard about the news of his demise. I was pained in my heart to hear of his death. He was a promising young man who would have done so much for Bayelsa State, but death took him early. He may be gone, but I respect him for his little service to humanity]

[Suspense- in next episode, readers will get to know who won the winning, and what happened next in my journey of advocacy]

Please, readers can do well to leave underneath this piece their thoughts by way of comments. It will be appreciated and replied to ASAP.
WATCH OUT FOR EPISODE 4


1 comment:

TBN said...

Nice one! I really hoped to know the winner of the competition in this episode. Looking forward to episode 4 though.