Have you ever washed your clothes and spread them to sun-dry but before they can, clouds gather and rain begins to fall, then the sun comes out again, but within a few hours, another soaker? This is the best analogy for The College of Medicine, Mushin (CMUL). Before you are done with internalizing the latest stress-coping mechanism you saw on your Instagram explore page—because you googled how not to die from over-exhaustion that one time—something else will happen. One thing I have learnt about my school and Nigeria is that most times, it is best not to bother fixing your mental health because another trigger is ten minutes out.
If you asked a random student in my school how they would change it for the better, they would give you some banal recommendations, but as someone who has had to romanticize every waking moment to get through the day, I have grander ideas. The first is the most obvious: an end to the strikes. A nine-month pause between the day you learn about the muscles of the upper limbs and the bones they attach to is not good for us the students, the lecturers, the foreign exams we’ll be writing to leave this country and our future patients. There is no winner in this situation.
In my vision of CMUL, everyone is a feminist. This is particularly important as I have seen a lecturer tell only the female students not to lose their virginity in a class that had nothing to do with sex. Or was it the time a doctor told the female students not to get an abortion as they would be ‘wasting their eggs’? Meanwhile, basic physiology explains that those eggs, if they don’t become a foetus, will be menstruated. Therefore, eggs are ‘wasted’ either way. I simply want to learn without all the misogyny-inspired advice. I would like to point out that these instances also fall under the need to separate church and state. Or, in this case, church and curriculum.
You would think that all the problems are to do with older people but no. A rude shock for me is constantly realizing that conversations on basic human rights tend to go sideways, even amongst young students.
My school is simply a perfect microcosm of Nigeria. From bigotry to prejudice to failing institutions to ignoring mental health and low standards of living, Nigeria is the larger, more extreme version of my school.
Therefore, it tracks that when I envision a 2050 Nigeria, I want to see the issues that plague students like me fixed on a national scale. I see a Nigeria where the people are allowed to breathe and be, before having to confront one obstacle or the other. A nation where its citizens are not constantly overwhelmed by the crumbling democracy, a crippled economy, and outrageous levels of insecurity at the same time. A place where we know that while there will be rain and there will be clouds, we will still be sure of sunlight.
I want a Nigeria where young people are not actively working to escape. Between the strikes and the lack of jobs, young people are being forced to jump away from sinking ships. I hope for a Nigeria where the ship isn’t leaking as much. I would have asked that the ship not leak at all, but we can take it one step at a time.
I want a Nigeria where everyone is free to live truly and equally. We will be better off if our upbringing is void of misogynistic, anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric among others. I want a Nigeria where we begin to recognize the damage these backward ideals have done from the home front to the political battlefields. I want a Nigeria where asking for a candidate’s views on equality isn’t seen as a distraction to the grander political movement. As a young woman who hopes to walk in the halls of power someday, it is important to me that these amendments come forth.
In the future I envisage a Nigeria where there are younger, more knowledgeable people in power; we are a country with a thriving tourism economy and a marked absence of insecurity.
Nigerians have proven time and time again that they belong front and centre on the global stage despite Nigeria and not because of it. Imagine how great we could be if we did not have to constantly fight for our collective sanity⎈
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