Our society has changed on many levels, so many levels; and perhaps
every level. And I do not refer to body tics and scent. Our morality is decaying, our sense of right and wrong is declining; our hatred and envy is more stinking than ever, yet our selfishness is pristine and very much so. Everything has changed, none is the same. And not for the better, as I illustrate:
In 100 Level, I had impressed my Biology Professor by questioning the conventional definition of the “species” and citing precise examples of viable inter-species offsprings; examples he had needed for his class the day before, as he had later confessed amidst much praise. I had likewise impressed my Chemistry lecturer by being the only one who knew that Tungsten was represented by W, being otherwise called Wolfram. Yes, the only one in a class of… we are we not up to five hundred that offered that compulsory subject.
Fast forward to 200 Level when during the first Physiology class I had asked the professor about “sodium-potassium ATPase pumps”; and he had been confused. This was a concept I had been familiar with immediately I left secondary school two years prior. I had spent my admission-biding time reading advanced textbooks. This was a concept that was in the very first chapter of the Physiology text. And it is not a crime to read ahead before class resumes with ASUU, is it?
I had expected praise and encouragement, but none was to come. This professor was not confused out of ignorance; he was confused out of… I really don’t understand! He had said “Young man, if you don’t learn to walk before you fly, you will crash!” or something of the sort. Much to the happiness of the mediocrities who always thought I read too much and showed off too. But I had only wanted to learn. I was confused.
Fast forward to 400 Level three years later when I had mentioned “prions” as disease-causing agents to my Parasitology lecturer in his first class. He had asked what textbook I read. I had answered proudly. He had in turn instructed me to throw the text away. I was not wrong, but I was worried. It had been one of the recommended texts, and had cost quite a fortune. Was I wrong to have read way ahead while we waited for months to be merged with our immediate juniors?
Fast forward to 500 Level two years later when I had confidently informed my Obs & Gynae lecturer that I was aware of multiple ovulations per cycle in the same individual. The text said it was possible. Another lecturer later confessed it was established as the basis for such concepts as “superfecundity” and “superfecundation”.
But that lecturer had refused to agree. He would hear none of it! I was stunned.
Fast forward to 600 Level yet another two years later when I had told the Landlady that I couldn’t move because I had invested a lot in my present abode and had a family to support and a farm to tend. She had said we medical students were an unserious lot, and were (too) rich parading big rides all over the place; and somewhat said, “You have a farm? Even I do not have a farm!” She was already at the peak of her career. I was disappointed.
These were people in the best position to shape and encourage. These were the right moments to influence and inspire. These were memorable incidents. Wasted, memorable incidents; most of them were made to be.
Yet we expect our children to be highfliers and awesome thinkers? How can they be when we keep boxing them up and telling them to slow down, be mediocre; that their turn would come?
The Land Use Act of 1978 says that anyone 21 years and above can buy land. When I had wanted to buy land at 24, I was told to f’ara ba’le, be calm, and wait for my turn. The alternative had been to buy the land in the name of an elder. Unfortunately, I was stymied: I only had the idea and the location, I didn’t have the wherewithal. As still happens to me to date: I have found a place to plant my farm, I don’t have enough money. Do other people my age have comparable experiences?
At every juncture of my life, I have been eager to impact, I have challenged the status quo, I have thought outside the box as I must, as everyone should. And at every such juncture, I have been incapacitated by the very ones who should know better. But then, they weren’t any better, were they?
Our society has finally become one where there are expectations that are no longer high and challenging and inspiring, but subjugating and discouraging and ridiculous. Every generation the world over seeks to give the younger better opportunities, stronger launch pads, higher platforms than they themselves had. Not so, the Nigerian. And our children have finally caught on. Unfortunately…
In 400 Level my Haematology Professor had said a particular protein was coded for on chromosome 34; which of course was impossible. I had raised up my hand, politely, and when prompted had said there was no chromosome 34. My classmates had sighed. ‘This boy and professors,’ I suppose must have been their thoughts. They had again expected blasts.
But not this Professor; this one was a Professor of Consultants…
Our society is capitulating. We now find ourselves defending exam malpractice and witch hunts and jungle justice, not because they can ever be laudable, but because we ourselves do them. We secure appointments for our wards based on connections and not competence, based on memory and not merit. And so we must not judge others. Except politicians accused but not yet convicted of theft and misappropriation. We have finally, unwittingly, become a shameless lot.
And these must change, all of it.
My Professor of Consultants had replied, “Of course he is right. There are 23 pairs of chromosomes: 1 to 22, and X and Y. There is no chromosome 34!” It had been an error in the typing of his notes after all, an error he corrected later. He had wanted to say protein p34, or so; but my colleagues had imbibed the oga-so-pe system and had refused to analyse whatever they were told, let alone question it. Yet it had not been their fault. It is yours!
Ayokunle Adeleye recently concluded his medical studies. He writes from Sagamu. Contact: 08068619636 (WhatsApp); @adelayok; firstname.lastname@example.org