Bar. Suleiman Hassan Gimba
For most, university life entails freedom and responsibility – freedom from parents and teachers, and responsibility for taking charge of one’s own life to affect the transition into adulthood.
And nobody knows the two like the lawyer, as he learns to take the responsibility for not just his life but for the client, with his actions and inactions highly consequential to a client’s freedom.
But during his training years – especially at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, the lawyer lives in bondage, denied the rights he has been taught other people have.
He is crippled by the expectations of his Faculty to strictly follow the Nigerian standards of maturity – to be boring, to see youthful exuberance as a taboo that must be banished to the evil forest along with all Kanayo O. kanayo’s sources of income.
Kongo is regarded as a dry campus and the faculty of law is its driest arm, its other arm – the Faculty of Admin – allows life to flow through its veins in the days preceding Graduation Day at least; through T-shirt Signing Day, Old School Day, Jersey Day, Graduation Party, and the Last Paper Day – where students are sheathed in their official class shirts during the last paper.
The law student is left with nothing but the annual Deans Cup; which every class participates in, the Graduation Dinner; which is organized by every graduating class, and can be attended by anyone; even association’s on-campus hold end of session dinners.
Wrapped in his clingy black and white uniform on the Last Paper Day, the law student as a young adult is left as a mere spectator without a say in matters that affect him, wondering if his peers at Admin are the last wonder of the modern world!
And with no unique and time-defying event or activity to experience with his classmates, he rushes to escape the campus… To. Never. Ever. Return. All the previous sets were either too disunited to change this practice or were so drilled that they saw losing one’s freedom as the new normal way of learning.
And like twins needed Marry Slessor, the faculty of law yearned for a hero and that wish came through in the year of the sweet sixteens! The ”sweet sixteens” is the graduating name for the U11 set that set Kongo ablaze with its “sabiness”.
It jumped hurdles that were hitherto impossible, it forged a dynasty that would take more than the Mother of Dragons to bring down, and above all it kept its members united as ever and passed on the best baton every junior set could have hoped for.
It all started in the morning of an unforgettable day in the history of the Faculty of Law, the 27th day of July 2016; Last Lectures Day! It was Jurisprudence and after the lectures, the ecstatic students swamped the very liberal M.T Ladan and took a host of pictures with him – selfies, group pictures, you name it!
It’s such a pity that portrait mode was not a thing. After that, the unthinkable happened, left to their instincts – the students started signing on shirts until everyone was buried in ink. U11 Law 1! – Faculty of Law 0!!!
We arrived Last Paper Day away from home, in front of hostile fans (invigilators!) and you could tell that we were clear underdogs despite the slender lead.
It didn’t take long for that to be apparent as two early goals we did concede; a strict social distancing policy was enforced even though Corona was not a thing, and girls wearing trousers were sent back as if they lived in 18th Century England.
They couldn’t care less about our plight and we didn’t care more about what they did because we had a plan; a master plan to turn things around and we left it till the last minute to adopt Major Lokoja Brown’s “Surprise and Attack” tactics.
Barely two hours after, the few students left in the Hall received a writ of summons that deserved an unconditional appearance, and coming outside they couldn’t believe what their eyes saw.
There was a DJ giving their learned colleagues VIP treatment with the sound of music that was breaking spirits free. Young and old, short and tall they all joined; Shari’ah and Civil, calm and frenzied they danced; serious and unserious they partied – like the white and black Baseball Shirt that had made them look like one, fun too didn’t discriminate, it’s like the Constitution on paper.
There was a rap battle with neither winner nor vanquish, the participants were glorious; the cheers were uniting, the MC was impervious; the beats were ameliorating; the dances were mesmerizing, the joy was profound; a record was broken, and the Back Benchers Association’s President was lifted from the ground up! Veni, Vedi, Vici!
“I came, I saw and I conquered” as the fitting words glowed on the unique graduating shirts that made the first-ever after exams party memorable, they echoed from the eyes and ears to the hearts of those that witnessed that day for like Caesar before them, U11 came to set a pace, and succeeded through discipline, proper strategy and with an army visioned to outlive the visioner.
There were many armies but the most unyielding is known as the “Back Benchers Association” and it still stands strong like the winds of Saturn, four years after graduation, brazen societal injustice wherever it sees it!
If you are in the Faculty of Law, Zaria raveling in freedom… Remember who fought for you, remember the men and women that fell unto the cold ground in the battlefield only to rise again like Phoenixes, remember the Sweet Sixteens!
Bar. Suleiman Hassan Gimba is a lawyer and writer