Saturday, 1 July 2017

Fatile Emmanuel: We Did Not Mean To Be Comrades!

By 'Joba Ojelabi

(Dedicated To The Loving Memories of Fatile Emmanuel)

In the faculty of Pharmacy of the Obafemi Awolowo University, there are two major kinds of students; the typical pharmacy students and the “comrades”. The typical pharmacy students are the ones who take pharmacy “very seriously”. Somehow, they have managed to design their lives around the faculty and its demands. They attend almost all classes, go to all practical labs, write all reports, do all assignments, and as much as possible try to avoid every other thing that is not pharmacy. For to them, every other thing is a distraction. These are the kind of students the average Nigerian parent would be proud of; they mind their business, “face their books” and most times have comparatively good results to show. The comrades, on the other hands, are the ones who try to be more. These class of students, either by some realistic necessities, a flair for adventure or developed ideals and beliefs, have managed to add something else to their primarily being a student of pharmacy. For quite a number, the added factor is often politics but a wide array of things outside politics can also be added; business, journalism, sports, several forms of art, and even in some cases; religion. Certainly, being in this class does come without its price, after all, the old saying does go along the lines “one cannot eat his cake and have it”. Reputable for her tasking demands in diligence, Pharmacy can be a very difficult place for comrades as finding the required balance is, in itself, herculean. It is thus not totally surprising that a huge percentage of the comrades are not usually represented in the academic blue books of the Faculty. This is not to say that the comrades do not also pass their exams, as a matter of fact, a lot of comrades have graduated from the faculty with a fine number even claiming the golden prize in the course.

Fatile Emmanuel bought me a bottle of Cocacola at a time when I was expected to do the buying. I had just made public my intentions to contest for the position of Public Relations Officer of the student association of our faculty and coincidentally, he was also contesting in that election. He had also earlier applied to join the OAU Peeps News Agency, an organization in which I was, at the time, serving as Deputy Editor-in-Chief and so when he introduced himself to me at the buttery of the Faculty of Pharmacy, we immediately found a lot of things to talk about. By the time I stood up to leave, he insisted that he paid for the bottle of Coke that I downed in the course of our conversation. I believe this incident gave me an above-average impression of the Mr. Fresher, an impression that would eventually form the foundation of a casual friendship and warm camaraderie with a number of others.

Max, as he was more fondly called, certainly had his flaws. He, like every other person, was not infallible. Sadly, these flaws tend to be more highlighted and maybe even exaggerated when one is not a typical pharmacy student. One’s aspirations to explore new frontiers, to attempt to seek alternative sources of income or to even “live” can become an Achilles heel.
Sometimes, I try a lot to be a typical Pharmacy student, to just face my books and be nothing else but those who know me would know how woefully I have failed at these attempts. Many have come tell me that there is a time for everything, citing ecclesiastical references of course; imploring me to be nothing else but a pharmacy student for the main time for in their words; “It would soon end”. The Comical part is as much as I agree with them, sometimes I do not know which they are talking about; the school or the whole life. For indeed, life itself is too short, too short to not live. Fatile Emmanuel, like many of us was a “comrade”, and maybe that is his legacy; that even in the midst of this curriculum that manages to take all our attention, this work schedule that somehow steals all our time, Max strived to be more…
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