By Sulaiman Maijama’a
Seeing some photographs yesterday that we took in 2019 when we were leaving Sa’adu Zungur Hall of the Bayero University, Kano, as we finished level 200, I remembered several events, particularly during my stay in the hostel. I was filled with mixed feelings of nostalgia, reminiscing about my BUK days, the good and bad experiences, and the culture shock I had to contend with as a fresh university student.
In 2018, when we secured admission, my friend Shamsuddeen insisted that we stay off campus. I did not like the idea, so I reported him to our teacher and mentor, Mallam Abdul Ahmad Burra, to be a judge, knowing that Mallam would be on my side. Mallam Abdul directed that we live in the hostel, saying, “The experience you have when you live in the hostel is another degree in itself. Never miss that.”
The experience began soon after we settled on the 18th of March, 2019, in our number D-56 room on the first floor of Sa’adu Zungur Hall. Six of us were the occupants. Kamal Abdulsalam, Shamsudden A Musa and I were in Mass Comm, Bashir Dalhat read Geography Education, Sirajo Basiru read Economics Education, and Abdul studied Political Science. All of us in the room were voracious readers, what people call “mayun Boko”.
Our room was almost always locked because we left for class or library day and night, and so, we were addressed and addressed each other as Prof. The trouble was, when someone said prof alone, we got confused as to whom he was referring to because we were all bearing the title. One day at the Vice Chancellor’s mosque, I loudly said “Prof. Kamal”, referring to my roommate Kamal Abdulsalam, when I caught the attention of Professor Aliyu Kamal of the English Department. To his surprise, he saw me approaching a student whom I addressed as Prof.
Unlike other rooms, our bond had blossomed into becoming a family, sharing food and water and even requesting little money when needed. We soon realised that one of us was living a miserable life. In the morning, he would take Gari, water in the gallon, wear squeezed clothes and go to lectures. We all were concerned about his condition and began to talk about how we could help him. God had saved us when News later got to us that he was a millionaire in their village. We were all shocked and began to keep him under surveillance.
I once escorted him to the Eco Bank ATM to withdraw cash. He wanted 2k but mistakenly added a zero to the digits. When the ATM dispensed 20k, we looked each other in the eyes; I was surprised that he had such money in the account, and he was concerned that I saw his money. We had to enter the bank hall and redeposit the cash instantly, and he begged me not to tell anyone I saw that money.
We began to see real shege when we moved to our number D-40 room on the first floor of Idris Garba Hall on 20th January 2020. On the very first day, one of the room members said we were contributing money to buy padlocks, something that in our previous hostel, one of us would just buy and share the keys without asking a penny. D-room is usually allocated to 4 students, but each one could come with one squatter as is the tradition. In this instance, one person came with three settlers and himself (enough number to be allocated a complete room) and insisted they stay in the room. We called an urgent meeting in a small corner and chased away two.
There was one roommate who set an alarm ringing around 3:00 a.m. daily. The whole room would be disturbed and wake up, but the person who placed the alarm never woke up before 7 a.m. It was in level 300 when my young-looking face misled this person into thinking I was a small boy. In the morning, he would toss a Lipton at me and say, “Sulaiman, put tea for me”. He would ask, “Sulaiman, what is the time?, “Bring me sugar, “Bring me a mat, “Do this, do that”.
At the onset, I thought it was normal assistance between roommates, but later, when I realised that he had made me his Personal Assistant, I called it quits. This person would buy all the delicious things in this world; think about eggs, fish, meat, milk, etc., but would request the basic ones like sugar and Maggi from one of us.
In the same room, someone spent the whole night pressing his phone but would fall asleep just before dawn prayers, wake up around 10 a.m. and pray. He never attended 8 am lectures. We also had two overnight debaters. These people returned to the room in the middle of the night and began to debate loudly until all the room members woke up. When they were scolded, they would humbly say they were sorry. We couldn’t fight further!
In our final session, when we stayed in number D-16 room on the ground floor of the same Idris Garba hall, beginning on November 1st, 2021, we were more mature and tolerant. But there was one character who would wake up in the middle of the night and turn on the light while everyone in the room was asleep. When we complained that he infringed on our rights, he said he turned on the light because he was pressing his phone and did not want the screen’s reflection, so turning on the light reduces the reflection. When he was out, we removed the bulb. Until we graduated, we did not have a bulb in our room.
Maijama’a wrote via email@example.com.