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Life Lesson

Inner Conversation


Die Dey Big compound

It was about 7pm in Bamenda. The sun had gone to bed, making room for the cold night to come in. “Weleelee eh! I don die oh! Die don meetop me! Wemeh!” A woman was screaming. The scream was coming from a compound in Foncha Street Nkwen. Everyone wondered what could be causing this woman to scream like this. Persons in this neighborhood who had settled in for the evening ran out to see what was happening. The commotion was finally traced to Mama Fuh’s compound. A crowd had soon gathered there waiting to find out what had happened. It was a bolt from the blue when the onlookers saw four gentlemen carry the lifeless body of a young man into the yard. Mama Fuh kept rushing from behind trying to touch her son’s body, but she was inhibited by a group of women. It wasn’t long before others joined in wailing.
“Fuh oh! Why? My pikin why? Why you leave me so? Weh weh weh?” Mama Fuh shouted as she wept.
The bystanders just watched forlornly. The big question on everyone’s mind was how a young, smart, handsome fellow like Fuh ended like this. Was Fuh sick? Did someone kill him? What took Fuh’s life away?
It was 15TH August 2009. Fuh Godlove rose at 4:00am. Though he had gone to bed at 1:00am that night, he woke refreshed and ready to face the challenging day ahead. He swiftly pressed his shirt and pair of trousers, before taking his bath. Once he was dressed, he said his prayers and went to eat the breakfast Mama Fuh his mother had prepared for him. Today was the day his life would change forever. Fuh had put in much preparation for this day, and finally it was here. Today Fuh was going to be one of the candidates who would be taking the ENSET entrance examination. The Higher Teachers Training College Bambili was launching the technical section (ENSET) for the first time this year.
After graduating from the University of Buea in 2004, Fuh’s degree in physics could not earn him a job. In order to cater for himself, his brothers and his mother, Fuh decided to go into computer programming. He was really good at it, but it did not pay him a lot. After advice from a friend, Fuh decided to try the entrance exam into ENSET Douala. Thrice in a row, Fuh attempted the exam and failed. Being a determined young man, he decided to try again in 2009. He dropped everything he had to do for a full year in order to devote his time and energy to studying for the exam. He had successfully written the entrance exam into ENSET Douala and today, he planned to conquer ENSET Bamenda.
Fuh was one of the first students to arrive at the ENS campus. He immediately walked to the room where the Mechanical engineering students were to take their exams. He was pleased to see other fellows who had also taken the entrance exam in Douala with him. Landry, Mbape, Babila and Etondi had all taken the exam at Douala.
“How prepared are you?” Babila asked Fuh.
“My brother I have done my part, the rest is for God. I am certain I must make the exam this year. I haven’t prepared for any exam in my life like I have done for this one.” Fuh said confidently.
“My brother I don’t think preparation has anything to do with this exam. We both know what goes on in these concours. You want to be sure to make it, you need a God Father. You will have to drop something.” Babila said.
“What do you mean by that? Are suggesting buying an entry into ENSET?” Fuh asked utterly dismayed.
“You sound like a kid. Yes I am saying to get in; you have to buy the exam. This is Cameroon my brother. It is a system of who knows who. Look around you. The vast majority of candidates writing this exam with us are francophone. These guys own this country. My cousin knows a guy who can buy a space for me. If you are interested, I will connect you. There are only three spaces so you will have to act fast.” Babila said.
“This is what is destroying this country. I am a principled person. I don’t think I can consent to such.” Fuh said resolutely.
“Suit yourself. I was once like you my friend. Never say never.” Babila said. Babila then went to get a beer from the canteen. Fuh took a seat and tried to get his mind set for the exam.
At exactly 8:30am the invigilator walked into the exam hall with the test papers. After checking the student’s identity cards, he stated the instructions for the exam. The exam for mechanical engineering was divided into two parts. The first part consisted of Further Mathematics and the second part Physics and Mechanical Math. Each part was three hours long. The first part was to last from 9:00am to 12noon and the second part from 1pm to 3pm. The invigilator then distributed the test papers. Each test paper had two sections; one in French for students who studied under the French system and one in English for students of the English system.
Once the invigilator said start, the candidates immediately turned their question papers. Some like Fuh, smiled when they saw the questions. Others however looked confused. About an hour into the exam, some students were scratching their heads and others were actually sweating. The hall which had been cold that morning had gradually grown hot. A girl at the front actually had to rush out in order to throw up. A guy at the back just folded his paper and slept off. All the candidates were actually relieved when the 3hours was over. The candidates were to take a 30minutes break before the second part of the examination. Fuh decided to get some air outside. He went out and took a seat beside a young lady on the corridor.
“I am Fuh and you.” Fuh introduced himself with a smile.
“I am Prisca.” The young lady said dreamily.
“How was the exam?” He asked the young lady.
“It was horrible. I barely knew what was on the paper. I was told this was supposed to be Further Mathematics, but it was different from what I was taught in high school.” Prisca replied.
“It is always that way the first time. I can tell you studied under the Anglophone system. It’s sad, but this exam seems to be set by Lecturers of the French system. The syllabus is quite different. I happened to answer the questions well because I spent a year studying with both the French and English system syllabus.” Fuh said.
“Good for you. I actually intended to go for biology, but my father advised me to go for mechanical engineering. He says few girls go for subjects like this, so I could easily get in on the basis of gender balance.” Prisca stated. The two went on to talk about their school experiences, other exams they had written and their expectations from the exam they were taking today. It wasn’t long before they were called back in for the second part of the examination.
The invigilator gave the instructions again, and then shared out the papers. This time around, all the candidates were bewildered when they turned their exam papers.
“I said it since, this people will find a way to block us Anglophones from passing this exam at all course.” One of the candidates by name Ambe cried out.
“Young man stop disturbing or I will have to send you out. If you have a problem let me know.” The invigilator blurted angrily.
“Sir both sections of the questions are in the French language.” The Anglophone students echoed in chorus. The invigilator got a paper from one of the students and studied it carefully. He then made a call. The students watched his expression carefully hoping for a positive respond. When the invigilator got off the phone, he was silent for a while. He then cleared his throat and said, “Sorry nothing can be done about it at this point. You will have to figure that out on your own.” Fuh who had composed himself this far burst into tears. A number of the Anglophone candidates just stormed out angrily. Fuh had no choice. He just could not give up now. He decided to try his best in making sense of the questions. One of the Francophone candidates then signaled the invigilator.
“Sir we francophone didn’t do physics. What we did was mechanical math. We were informed what we would write in this section was Mechanical math. How come only physics is on this paper?” The candidate asked. The invigilator had no idea what to do. He had been told nothing could be done about the test paper at the moment. He felt guilty staring at the helpless faces before him.
“In short do whatever you can to make it.” He said and walked to take his seat. Immediately, everyone went crazy. The candidates move from seat to seat trying to make sense of the questions and also to get answers. Fuh was at this point totally disgusted with what was happening. He submitted his paper and walked out. He took a seat along the corridor. His head was spinning. This was supposed to be it for him. At this point, he was utterly frustrated. Just then Babila slithered to Fuh’s corner.
“Hi, take things easy my friend before you lose your mind.” Babila advised Fuh.
“I can’t afford not to make this exam.” Fuh said.
“I told you, if you drop something, I will make sure you get in. I have made my own payment already to secure a spot on the result list.” Babila said.
“I don’t know about this.” Fuh said.
“I guarantee you, with 600,000francs you are in.” Babila said with utmost certainty.
“That is ridiculous. Where will I get that money from?” Fuh said half disoriented.
Babila scribbled his phone number on a paper and handed to Fuh.
“If you change your mind, call me. You have three days to think about this.” Babila said.
That night, Fuh did not sleep a wink. He was exhausted. His mind was throbbing from all the thinking. He kept thinking of the 450,000francs his mother had given him to save for her. His illiterate mother could not run an account at the credit union, so she had entrusted her son to do so on her behalf. By morning, Fuh decided he would withdraw the money. He had also decided to borrow 50,000francs from a friend. Fuh decided that he would sum his mother’s 450,000francs, the borrowed 50,000francs, with his 100,000francs savings to come up with the 600,000francs required to secure a space in ENSET.
On the 19th August 2009, Fuh met up with Babila. Babila then took him to meet a Dr Djeug. Babila had told him Dr Djeug was the coordinator of the Mechanical Engineer department at ENSET. Fuh gladly handed the money to Dr Djeug. He believed once he got into ENSET, his mother would not mind the money he had used as he would be on a path to greater wealth. He also calculated he could easily pay back the 50,000francs he borrowed from what he earned as a computer programmer. Dr Djeug upon receiving the money, told Fuh not to worry anymore.
“Start preparing yourself for school. You are already a student here. Have no doubt about that.” Dr Djeug told him.
Fuh returned home full of content. Finally, he was going to get in. He in no way approved the method he had decided to apply, however he told himself the broken system had pushed him to do what he had to do. Necessity needs no law. The weeks that ensued were unbearable. Fuh anxiously awaited the results to the two exams he had written. He was utterly shocked he had failed the entrance exam into ENSET Douala. Fuh however consoled himself that he will bag the Bamenda exam. When the results for Bamenda came out, Fuh waited hopefully for his name. Even after all the results had been read on the radio and the station moved to commercial, Fuh sat on the sofa like a log still waiting to hear his name. There must be a mistake. He decided to call Babila.
“The number you dialed is not available at the moment please try again later.” The operator kept repeating as Fuh repeatedly dialed. Just then a breaking story came up on the radio about Major scam. A group of con artists had infiltrated various entrance examinations into professional schools in Cameroon. Some had impersonated candidates while others had impersonated Lecturers. Fuh immediately switched off the radio. He knew the end of that story.
Fuh then went into his bedroom. He got two bottles of Aspirin from his shelf. He then got some water from the kitchen. Fuh sat on the Sofa and gobbled up all the pills. Two hours later, Mama Fuh walked in to find her son’s cold body on the sofa.
“Die dey Big Compound.” Mama Fuh shouted when she discovered her son’s dead body.

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