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Life Lesson

Inner Conversation



Almost all the pupils looked pretty bright and neat today. Monday opened a new school week. The pupils were lined up for devotion. The flag prefect had just climbed the flag pole and hung up the national flag. The teachers were making sure the pupils were in straight lines.

“Put your hands on the shoulder of the person in front of you and stare at their occiput.” Madam Regina kept shouting. All the noise ceased when the head teacher and a few staff took to the front of class five and six which served as a podium. Madam Regina led the pupils in the Lords prayers. It was then time for the national anthem.

“Attention!” commanded the head teacher. Ms Regina the tuned the anthem in a very sharp tone, one that would have shattered a glass window.

The pupils all joined in pride as the sang,

“O Cameroon thou cradle of fathers

Holy shrine where in our midst they now repose…”

Like most Cameroonians, the start was usually loud and then the volume and diction dropped at the middle only to pick up momentum at the chorus. After a brief moral lesson from a teacher, the pupils listened to announcements from the head teacher. The following week was arts and craft week. The pupils were each to present an art and craft material which will be graded and the marks filled in their report cards. After devotion was over, a pupil tuned a marching song as the pupils marched to their classrooms.

Home again again

Home again again

When shall I see my home?

When shall I see my native land?

I will never forget my home

This was one of the songs the pupils sang as they marched to their classrooms.

Arata ship for bed,

Monkey leak ye lass, some naughty pupils added at the end of the song.

‘I saw Paul Biya in the bush market

He was selling strong canda

He was selling one for 25

In the name of the Republic Cameroon’ Was another popular song the pupils used in marching.

In class 2, there was so much noise. The head boy quietly jotted down the names of noise makers. Lum seemed to be leading the noise. She was narrating how her loose tooth fell out and what she later did with the tooth. Bih who was spying at the window soon whispered, “Mr. Boniface is coming. They all ran to their seats and opened their English readers pretending they were studying. Mr. Boniface entered the class and looked at them sternly. He then turned to the head boy. Right away the head boy handed him a list of noise makers.

“If you hear your name, come out quickly.” Mr. Boniface ordered. The pupils prayed silently. Some made the sign of the cross hoping if their names were on the list, it will suddenly disappear.

“Ngwa, Bih, Lum, Babila, Anjikwa, Camerica, Mangiento, Jean Pierre, Aggie….” Mr Boniface called. Once they were out, he gave them each five strokes of the cane. It was embarrassing to cry in front of the class, so most of them shocked it and saved the crying for later once they were seated. They would bow their heads over the bench and hide their faces once they cried silently, then they would dry their eyes and look brave.

 After roll call, Mr Boniface asked them to bring out their readers and turn to chapter two.

“Today we will learn about the plural of certain nouns…” Mr Boniface said with a smile. “Who can tell me what a noun is?” Mr Boniface asked. Manka’s hand immediately shot to the air before he could finish the question.

“I sir! I sir.” Shouted Manka.

“Yes Manka tell us the answer.” Mr. Boniface said.

Manka stood confidently and said, “A noun is a word which is a person, place, or thing.”

“Good girl. Class clap for her.” Mr. Boniface said with a big smile. The class clapped in symphony. After English, came mathematics which was hated by most pupils. Twenty minutes into the math’s class, the minds of the pupils were not still in class, they were now anticipating sound from the large school bell. The school bell was an old car tire wheel tied to a pole. A metal rod rested on it and the school prefect would hit it during break and when classes were ended for the day.

At the sound of the bell, the pupils shouted “Yeeeeh!” their voices could be heard from the church on the hill. They all ran out to play. Not even the scorching sun could stop them now.

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