He had expected that completing his registration would be hitch-free, what he didn’t expect was the speed with which it went. If he’d decided to go do his registration the day he went sightseeing, he’d have finished and still visited all the places he wanted to same day. His schoolmates were drawn from all parts of the world, he could feel the excitement in the air during the first session organized by the postgraduate school for new scholars. There were students from the USA, India, Uganda, Ethiopia, Guyana, Pakistan, Syria, Italy, Egypt, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Tanzania, Laos, Myanmar, China, France, Belgium amongst so many others. He met two Jews from the United States, one a cultural Jew, who was born Jewish, observant only in the midst of family, but not out of it, while the other a religious Jew, and he found their varying view on life based on their experience quite intriguing and interesting.
Students from the United States made up the largest number of his schoolmates. One of them whom he got chatting with expressed fears that Donald Trump might win the American presidential elections, and that was in September when momentum was supposedly high for Hillary Clinton, and people didn’t know then, what they know now. And then there are the mixed nationals, Pakistani-Canadian, and those American/other country nationals in their numbers. Of the lot that he saw on that first day, he counted four of the females as some of the most beautiful, including an Ethiopian, a Tanzanian, an Indian and a Sierra Leonean. He was surprised at the fact that he hadn’t considered white females as beautiful as females of other races, even though they were more in population. He would’ve guessed they’d be better looking than the weather-beaten foreign aid workers dotting Nigeria’s landscape, but what he’s observed was that white females may look beautiful from afar, but when they got closer you’d notice the freckles and spots and all whatnot, that feeds the narrative that “black don’t crack”. He however noticed that they were freer to mingle with, and could be the easier willing partners because of their easy going nature compared to their more reserved African counterparts (especially when in public).
Many of the African female scholars were either married, are single mothers (like the beautiful Tanzanian he was introduced to earlier in the day) or claimed to be in relationships, and about to wed. Of the lot, he found of the Africans, Nigerians and Ethiopians to be the proudest. Nigeria’s pride almost bordering on arrogance and he found it impossible, even as a Nigerian to explain why. The Ethiopian female scholar he’d hit it up with, almost at first sight, reminded him of how Ethiopians are royalty or related to the royal heritage of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, besides being the only African country that was never colonized, even went on about how their last emperor is seen as God by the Rastafarians, of course from Emperor Haile Selassie’s given name, Ras Tafari. He was in a good mood that day and didn’t want to go into the argument as to whether all that had helped Ethiopia presently, though he acknowledged the history, as enough to make anyone in her shoes proud of her heritage.
Almost all African scholars to the school are on scholarship funding, compared to scholars from other continents who still had self funded scholars amongst them. With the ratio of scholarship to non-scholarship per continent decreasing from Africa to the USA if you were to consider the United States a continent. Another way to look at it is that more scholarships went to British colonized countries in the Commonwealth from Africa and Asia. He didn’t feel guilty been on scholarship knowing that a sizable portion of British wealth had been off the backs of African goods in time past as at now. Most of Africa’s raw materials as well as food and cash crops had found its way to the British empire for a pittance, and before that was slavery, and even now it’s difficult not to see how much of Africa’s stolen wealth by western puppet rulers in Africa, is going into funding the social security system of western nations, who when eventually a new order comes in desiring for such looted funds to be returned, face a west that’s so very unwilling to return such proceeds of the corruption they frequently preach against, placing obstacles or giving conditions for such a move to be enabled. If the British offer scholarships to Africans then that isn’t bad, he considered even that a drop in the ocean compared to what could’ve been paid in reparations for the injustice the colonies suffered at the hands of the colonialists and the neo-colonialists they left behind after them. Even the so called aid that is channeled in billions of pound sterling through organizations such as the Department For International Development, DFID to African countries, have a way of benefiting the British over and above the receiver countries, hence he doesn’t act surprised anymore when he hears that the British are cutting budgets to fund policies at home yet increasing international aid, even to countries such as Nigeria, that former Prime Minister David Cameron described as FANTASTICALLY CORRUPT!
The next day was orientation, which included a tour of the school. The number of scholars was larger this time around, as more had concluded their registration and joined the student body on tour. Tour guides gave them insight into the much that goes into research as well as the personalities within the university, amongst other important issues and trivia. Expectedly, Nigerian scholars had begun rounding themselves up, though he’d joined the Whatsapp Group, he was only meeting some of them for the first time during the orientation, and he was glad that they did form an impressive unit in terms of numbers. He found members of the group quite chatty, from jokes to observations about how they are been treated by other students. One who had schooled in the UK even mentioned the fact that many of the white students may be kind but do exhibit some level of superiority over their African mates, like they weren’t meant to be on the same level regardless, while another termed what she had observed as covert racism, especially amongst those Europeans who might have even done great work in Africa as aid workers. Though he hardly comments on the Whatsapp group, he finds it more helpful than the Whatsapp group of his alma mata in Nigeria, where it seemed most members were more like “monitoring spirits” intent on gauging progress in life and family amongst members. The idea mooted by a member of the Naija Scholars group to visit the Nigerian High Commission was stood down. He was particularly impressed with a Nigerian female scholar, of Igbo extraction and married, who had done undergrad in Canada but lives in London. She could easily fit into a group of girls angling to win a beauty pageant crown, and still enter a next room filled with professors, yet still hold her own.
Friday in London is pub night. He decided to stay behind a bit in school to see what the atmosphere felt like. Alcohol truly is the great leveler, he thought, with everyone drinking at about every joint he looked into. He didn’t even know Indians drank that much, and could in fact hold their alcohol glass so well. One Somalian lady he’d met earlier in the day looking so very reserved had by evening under the influence of alcohol thrown her tops while hanging out with Italian scholars who seemed to be having a great time entertaining her. What endeared him to many of the pubs, was the “PUB HUMOUR” which he couldn’t seem to get enough of.
Many times he’d branch into some just to read the pub humour board outside the door before looking in to see if he’d encounter familiar faces. The freedom to mingle amongst scholars that night reminded him of the mandatory one-year National Youth Service Corp, NYSC camp in Nigeria, with hot-blooded youths everywhere looking for avenues to let off steam. It was too late to go back home that night, so he elected to stay at a friend’s, who immediately after seeing him into his apartment dashed back out for an encore of a Friday night of reveling.