One Thousand Million: A Paradox of the Nigerian Educational System. 


In this humorous piece, we see the incompetence that is the Nigerian Educational System. I couldn’t agree more with his parting words:

Their teacher couldn’t protect them from shit. Neither ignorance nor the offshoot of ignorance….

You might not know it, might not have experienced any such thing, but it is, what it is.

Please share your thoughts.


There is the ominous, ceaseless dance of angst just beneath Obinigbo’s bowels that awakens him every morning. It is not of the gyration of unsettled palmwine nor of the crow of Emeka’s bloody cockerels wandering the village. It is, in fact, of the dream he dreams every night.

He would sit, whenever he dreamed, in a class -the space of which spans the expanse of the Earth; and listen to feral children teach him to count to one hundred. Surely, his dream is ridden with mysteries but not in its entirety.

When he first arrived in Agbor, he got a job teaching numbers at the local kindergarten. Indeed, the children he taught did appear feral: red farm soil brindled their dark skin without reck. They always farmed before school. Albeit he could not fathom, why the children in his dreams taught him instead. Maybe the mystery was the workings of too much wine, he often thought to himself.

It was a fine morning when he set out for work. His shirt was decently untucked and his tie was meticulously unknot. He was befuddled as usual. Nevertheless, he staggered his way to work and taught hard without respite, as he’d always done, teaching them to count their first one thousand million. Yes, one thousand million! But for some preternatural reason that besets human logic, this particular boy, Nduka, would always cry one hundred right after every ninety-nine. Obinigbo didn’t understand this. It disturbed common sense. All the other pupils cried one thousand million instead, just like he’d taught. He didn’t know from whence he obtained such knowledge -that one hundred comes right after ninety-nine.

Unfortunately for the lad, Obinigbo already made resolute to teach him that one thousand million follows ninety-nine, not one hundred. And so, with sweet desire he broke the branch off a towering tree right outside his class, to make a good whip. One that beat the air thrice in one stroke.

Nduka, after ninety-nine na wetin?” he posed, (all the while brandishing his whip like an Olympian would olives). In these parts, classes were taught in pidgin, even the English language. The administrator said it helped ‘connect’ them.

“One hundred” Nduka replied. Exuding confidence even.

If the palmwine hadn’t been working, it must have hit overdrive now. He picked the lad clean off his desk as if to smack gravity in the face. Obinigbo burned with desire to administer sanity to Nduka via his buttocks.

“Such insolent bullshit!” he pressed. He locked the boy’s head under his armpit, leaving his behind jutting forward, swaying in all directions. But in the instant Obinigbo raised his hand to punish him, there was the deafening noise of a gunshot. Stray bullets soon poured through the classroom window, shattering the glass into smithereens. He immediately ducked with the child in his hand, motioning for the rest of the class to do same. The pelting rested a little.

“Person go die o! blood go flow! begun to ring through the air. The shooter was Ebuzor, the village reject. At birth, his father named Ekwensuebube and his mother gave him, Amadiohabuzor. But since neither parent would concede, they joined the names. People say it is the sole reason his existence is in shambles. Ebuzor walked through the classroom door. The screech of the hinges must’ve lasted just less than forever.

Obinigbo, whey my hundred naira for palmwine?” Ebuzor begun his inquest, pressing his double barrel in Obinigbo’s face. (Ebuzor informed him the previous day, but he could not comprehend it, because, as far as he was concerned, the word ‘hundred’ didn’t exist)

Obinigbo managed to stand on vibrating knees and teary eyes to reach into his pocket for all the loose change he had.

“But Uncle” that blasted child, Nduka started, as if his teacher was only full of emptiness.

“That is hundred naira you’re holding” His nitid, puerile face illumed even more with amazement.

Ebuzor jacked the money right off his hand with precise finesse.

He sucked his teeth and began whistling popular tune along the lines of:  ‘Teacher, teacher no dey teachi me nonsense’

All the pupils looked on in terrible fear. Fear of uncertainty and fear of fear. Their teacher couldn’t protect them from shit. Neither ignorance nor the offshoot of ignorance that is Ebuzor.

Written by Ohiolei Osadebey

You can follow him on twitter: Ohioleii

And read his work:

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