I was enroute Ilorin from Ibadan. I got a seat at the back of the sienna vehicle.
When I got to the park, only two passengers were needed to fill up the vehicle, I was one of the two. The last person to come was a student, clothed in his uniform. He seemed like a person of Fulani descent. He also appeared to be going to the boarding house with the number of bags that trailed him. His mother and uncle pleaded that the driver accept 300 naira for his extra luggage in the boot. His mother came to the window and bent close, waving at him, she didn’t forget to give him an instruction. Does any mother forget?
At this stage, the third person sitted at the back seat became an ‘uncle’. I was at the extreme left, the student in between and the unclen at the right.
“What school do you go to?” he asked.
The student responded. He was probably in senior class; he seemed tall enough and he wore a pair of trousers as opposed to shorts.
We were five minutes into the journey and the young chap was watching a movie on his phone.
I requested to, and prayed aloud, as the bus took off. As expected, not everyone said an ‘amen’. Uncle said amen, however. Loud amens. Thank you.
Let’s get a bit of background about uncle. Uncle got to the vehicle before I did. Whe I got there, he was angry. As he complained loudly in Yoruba language about the poor state of all the vehicles these days, he complained also about the time-wasting driver and his colleagues. He complained loudly that he hadn’t been given his change yet.
You’d get a better picture when you imagine those people who complain aloud although they have no audience, those who have perfected the art of it. I thus, had no clue he was a Christian.
Thank you all the same for saying amen to the prayers. It was a smooth car ride.
So, the supposed Fulani student watching the movie laughed. I imagine the movie must have been hilarious. Uncle spoke up.
“Do you know you can download your textbooks on your phone and read?” Uncle’s eyes darted about unsure as he said that.
The student nodded, probably thinking ‘thanks for your kind thoughts’. But kind thoughts were no where being over. It made uncle sure that textbooks could be downloaded. Cue the longest speech ever recited.
“Instead of these movies you’re seeing, reading your books will do you good… You will be a first-class student. You’ll compete against not only students in Nigeria but world students…you’ll not concern with the state of Nigeria…there are jobs, oh there are jobs…that way you’ll live well… do your parents proud…do you know…in fact, there was… how many people…?” he went on. Believe me, he went on.
At the commencement of the speech, I had thought, ‘oh great, he must be a teacher, who is glad to find another erring student he can put on the right track’. Later, I doubted it. This was simply a desire to speak.
A fair-skinned lady who sat in front, who had said no amen to my prayers, turned back to stare at uncle reciting his impromtu speech, then she faced front. Later, she would bring out her small bible and read. So we’re fellow Christians? You said no amen.
Others also had to turn and stare at some point.
Uncle had a bible placed on his laps which he didn’t read. At some point during his speech, he left talk of the academics, and went into spirituality, talking about God. His voice loud and intrusive. I wondered if this was an approach to preaching.
At a point, all we could think ( I can boldly lay claim to reading everyone’s mind) was that, ‘uncle you’ve tried’, ‘Uncle remember “half a word is enough for the wise” ‘, ‘Uncle please, uncle please’.
His speech finally ended.
The boy told him “Thank You” and clicked the play button on his phone. This time, I imagine he held any laughter prompted by hilarious scenes to himself. But he saw the movie as he desired.
Variants of uncle show up at different locations, and at different times, under different citcumstamces.
To all uncles, please learn that your first sermon is your appearance. Uncle’s burning anger was a longer speech than the one he tried to give the young boy verbally. I know someone who describes herself as a ‘complainer’. Don’t. It may seem a honest enough description of your person. I advise you shouldn’t be content with being a complainer. Have you ever heard:
“if you have nothing good to say, say nothing”
I work by that principle. If you’re presenting a constructive comment to the wrong party, that’s fair enough. I do that. If your aim, as clearly evidenced, is to make your audience aim and achieve better than the party which did wrong, that’s fair enough. I do that. But stop being the complainer. The person who says “i just have no chill”.
Uncle, respect younger people too. My younger sister has been giving me gist of what goes down at her secondary school. One thing I also often recollect about my time in secondary school, is how a number of teachers did not understand that students are humans. Students have feelings. You are not permitted to treat students how you wouldn’t treat other adults. They’re intelligent beings.
One of Ifemelu’s opinion in the book Americanah by Chimamnda Ngozi Adichie, was that aunty Uju was the only adult who treated her like her opinion mattered. And she loved aunty Uju.
Be that person who draws respect from students, not only because you’re older but because you deserve it. Don’t tie down a young student’s time in your own interest.
Respect other people’s time and wishes. There is this tweet I saw on twitter:
I wish for you, sincerely, to take your time but that doesn’t mean waste mine”
Uncle did not listen to the student. He probably meant well, which I credit but then he thought he could give his long winding opinion on education and Nigeria for as long as he pleased. Make your point known, keep silent. Respect people’s personal space, existence and wishes.
Don’t be that other guy who entered the same taxi I did just the day before I travelled. He claimed he wanted to be my friend. He saw I was busy with my phone. I greeted him and politely told him I was busy. He wouldn’t let me be. He said “don’t you want me to be your friend?” Really? “Tell me your name naw” it was irritating. More irritating, because it reminded me of those who bugged me tirelessly in taxis while I was in secondary school. They saw a young girl and felt they could talk as they please. No you can’t. She is a human being, she may be young and beautiful but don’t badger her! Don’t be that person. I asked this guy, this time not politely, what kind of friend he would turn out, if he couldn’t respect my wishes now. I’m busy! And I did that for all the times I was troubled as a teenager.
Uncle, you mean well. Whatever your own case may be, but please learn courtesy.
The bible says in Romans 14:16
Do not allow what you consider good, to be spoken of as evil