Back in school, after putting to rest his accommodation challenge, at least for the next few months, his survey and scope antennae were activated to scan faces he’d have to get conversant with in the next one year. Class was in full swing, and anyone that wasn’t in at that stage couldn’t be accommodated. He wondered why he hadn’t seen two of the class’ most beautiful scholars (in his estimation) before then even in the several programs organized before classes resumed, one of East European origin, the other from South Africa. Though he found many of the ladies attractive, he kept it only at that and the few relationships he’d struck, as platonic as possible. Unlike in Nigeria, where the man is given a huge (very wide in fact) benefit of the doubt when matters relating to man-woman relationships are concerned, men are almost always singled out for blame when things go awry in relationships in the west and the UK in particular (with a litany of cases in his head as he pondered the situation in his mind), being at the receiving end of rape cases, divorces and the likes. One can easily be accused of pedophilia for chatting up little girls who look “bigger” than their actual ages. Many Nigerians have had their lives turned upside down on their visit to the UK because of lack of understanding of the prevailing sexual culture, and he wasn’t going to jeopardize his academic year for unnecessary indiscretions, besides he had no intention of breaking his marital vows for the one year he’d be in the UK studying.
The philosophy behind the school he found to be to the extreme of what obtains in Nigeria. The lecturers at every opportunity are wont to remind the scholars that they are there to ensure that they pass their courses, a clear departure from lecturers even in Nigeria’s first generation/elite/federal universities, where professors take pride in the number of students who fail their courses annually. What he found with his school, he found to be in keeping with British culture generally since his arrival two months back, enough to be convinced that the mentality is oriented towards the consumer, either as a student, client, patient, or whatever. In school, everyone on the school’s side appears to be interested only in the student passing the course at least, so much so that there’s even an intervention fund, for students who are found lagging behind or are having issues that seem to be negatively impacting on their academic performance. Part of the fund goes to organizing remedial classes and the likes for students that might need such.
This act of willingly providing help to anyone seeming lost despite the apparent lack of “religion” leaves him befuddled whenever he encounters such, either in school, library, museum and mostly public places and spaces. Though he’d come across many atheists in the UK, he’s found that they are mainly humanists, the society is such that’s dedicated to the progress of fellow humans, unlike the mainly religious nature of Africans, and Nigerians in particular, which appear to be interested only in hampering human progress (on critical observation), either through corruption, or sheer wickedness justified with quotations from “holy books”. That coupled with the many ethnic groups lumped into one, not always of their own making, but of colonizers or colonialists such as the British, leaving many African nations not currently at war, or experiencing mild sociopolitical upheavals, with a peace that’s akin to that found in a graveyard, or that’s simply an “absence of war”, leading in many cases to arrested or stifled development across board. The church and churches in the UK seem to have moved on to the post-Christian/religious era, beyond the separation of church and state, with churches joining the list of pastimes for most “devotees”, “charities” for the “charitable”, and for visitors, more of tourist attractions for the magnificent architecture on display at most British cathedrals.
He’s never understood why religious people act so stuck up, especially Nigerians that he knows so well. Coming to the UK has opened his eyes to people from other cultures and how they exhibit their religion and beliefs, and these includes Africans, talk more Arabs and Europeans who brought Islam and Christianity to Africa. He’d met a female Arabian Muslim who’s married, yet drinks beer, wine and the works. Another female, a Somalian who doesn’t drink, chose sobriety solely for personal and not religious reasons, meaning that she doesn’t find the company of people who drink “Haram” or consider those who indulge “Arna”, as with most northern Nigerian Muslims, and a few southern devotees, as well as Christian “born again” brethren would. In his College of Medicine days, he’d come across a smoking Irish priest at the college’s cathedral in Lagos, and though it seemed out of place for others, most Catholics didn’t see anything wrong with it. Nigeria’s religious morality seem to be just that, appearance only and nothing on refurbishing the man to make of him a better person, or to impact his/her society positively, that’s why with all the churches and mosques in Nigeria, corruption remains peak activity, and development is stunted, as with other African countries and society steeped in their ‘imported’ religious ways.
Spending nights out with classmates has been quite an eye-opener, he’d heard say of non-Nigerians saying Nigerians always look for opportunity to party and drink (though he knew he probably didn’t fit the description of such typical Nigerians), he could swear Nigerians were more mellow than the those other peoples he’d seen at the pubs. And they were Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Jewish, atheists and all. Their males, as well as their females in their numbers, and when it comes to smoking, London offers all of the varieties you could ever think of, from the cigarettes, to the hashish (a delight of some Moroccan scholars), to the shisha, to the “good plant” or “herb”, in all their variants and flavours, and had he not been an ardent non-smoker he’d have succumbed to the temptation of lighting up a spliff. The Irony for him in all that he’s seen so far, as regards habits such as drinking and smoking and as it relates to religion, especially in Nigeria, is when a conservative northern Nigerian Muslim (who would never pray behind a southern Nigerian Imam), who looks down on free living southern Nigerian Muslims (and Christians, and animists) is looked down upon by alcohol drinking, non-hijab wearing liberal Muslim from the Middle East and North Africa!
The best part of London so far for him is the FREE WI-FI especially in public places. Almost every area one careered had one “hotspot” or the other angling to be picked up by his phones’ “WLAN”. He’d heard tales of how hacking can be facilitated through Wi-Fi but he couldn’t care less, seeing that he is no high-profile individual, and has nothing really, to hide. During the last general elections in Nigeria in 2015, Jimi Agbaje, the gubernatorial candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP had as one of his campaign promises, the provision of free Wi-Fi in strategic areas of Lagos but unfortunately he lost and from what he reads of happenings in Nigeria as regards internet access, including the recent failed attempt by the director of the National Communications Commission, NCC to compel data service providers to increase tariff, it is obvious that if
future attempts to limit access to the internet is not continuously and consistently resisted, Nigerians may find themselves muzzled online, especially by an intolerant government in power, backed by a senate weary of constant nagging by Nigerians for their selfishness, as one of the highest paid in the world, in the face of crushing poverty that’s become constant mates of most Nigerians who now are forced to live below the poverty line, in spite of any effort on their own part to upturn their dwindling financial situations. For now, he’s thankful for little mercies, burning idle time binging on History Channels’ “VIKINGS” he downloaded via free Wi-Fi onto his tablet.