Yusuff, Uthman Adekola

I don't know the taste of love.

Neither do I know how it smells.

But I know my love

for the Nigerian campus

is an incense that burns my tongue.

Dear reader, I don't know how you have come across this piece. But I'm however glad that, whether by stumbling or tripping, you're set to read the world's most enviable expression of love.

Have you ever heard of something called 'love in distress'? Oh, well… let's leave that for the university gods.

I remember the first day I'd set my feet in a Nigerian university as a new student. My joy just kept growing and flowing. It was as if a river had grown in me and my heart had taken on the atmosphere of a rainy morning. Well… of course, I was a fresher; so everything about the school was fresh to me, then I fell in love.

Since then, I have continued to love my school more and more, especially because my psyche has consistently been a home to pangs of disturbance, pain and discontent. In fact, a major reason why my love would hardly ever dwindle is the realisation that we students are being raised to become angry wise dummies. We have learnt how to suffer, smile and absorb our anger into silence. And that's the hallmark of how best to learn endurance, isn’t it?

Believe me when I say the reason why I've always loved my school and other Nigerian universities (even including polytechnics, colleges of education and other higher institutions) is because of the pain and disgust they feed us students. That's just it! I can't lie to you. I can't lie to anybody—aswearugod, ògún, wallahi—because my parents have always told me that liars are potential robbers. And why should I even lie about this? Would it increase my CGPA?

But if you still would not believe me, then I'm ready to defend myself so that you won't begin thinking I'm not worthy in character. I won't even want you to find me wanton of gross misconduct. I hate those expressions ('unworthy in character' and 'gross misconduct'); they get me jittery. Those words could lead one into trouble with a disciplinary committee where one would have to face a panel of prisons— oh I mean persons: judges without gavels.

How about this: I know you can't argue against the fact that Nigerian universities are training grounds. They're in fact the best you'd find in the whole universe. Really, I think I have to declare at this juncture that the management of Nigerian universities do not victimise students. Obviously, they don't.

I too used to think that way, until the truth recently dawned on me. Now I've realised that they're only giving us practical lessons on things that happen to activists and journalists in the world beyond the university walls. After all, are we students not the ones who often complain about the over-theoretical nature of lectures in our education system?

Honestly, the management of Nigerian universities deserve torrents of accolades for practically preparing students for the Nigerian reality where journalists, social commentators, activists and people who speak the truth always do so at their own risks. Oh I love Nigerian universities!

In my own school particularly, they would ensure that you know so many things, so that you can have a mind that's truly free. Even rustication is one of the ways they can set you free, and that's if you're knowledgeable enough to point out some of the ills that require improvement.

It would even be more fulfilling if you're a student of Literature or maybe History, or a Law student with an incisive mind, because they would make you have a first-hand understanding of the persecution Wole Soyinka faced when he spoke sense to power during Abacha's reign. And instead of knowing of that story alone, you yourself become the story, so your understanding becomes broader beyond the scope of theory— aren't practicals the best way to understand what we learn, anyway?

Now, I ask: by what better means would you show gratitude to an institution that's ready to make you experience almost the same thing as a Nobel Laurette? Could it have been anything else, if not exceeding love? Dear reader, this explains the exact thing that has fuelled my love for Nigerian universities and other related institutions.

See, it's high time we stopped complaining that Nigerian universities do not give room for freedom of speech; it's high time we stopped blaming schools where student unionism has been banned or suspended; it's high time we stopped saying campus journalists are being forced to live in fear and silence; it's high time we understood that these universities are simply training us.

I believe, by now, you've already agreed with me that these things only make us ready for the dynamics of the outside world. And you should already understand why my love shall continue to grow like yam tendrils.

Nigerian universities of course are the best for learning!

You have a different opinion? Why not go say that to the university gods?

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