I was naive up until my second year at university, to say the least. My parents always paid the bills, so there was little or no pressing need to be responsible until I was a university sophomore, a second-year university student. I was caught unaware.

Dangling hopelessly in a space with no support, one could probably be triggered. Cassava, the vegetable, became my staple. I scraped the bottom of the barrel and thought that was the height of it. The real height of it I attained in year four, when I was unable to pay tuition for that year.

In the first semester of my final year, school administration changed hands, there was a new head, who was determined to do things in his own way. New policies included students’ general conduct, student dress code, and one which hit many so bad: no tuition, no exam.

When the campaign of “No tuition, no exam” started by the new admin, I thought it was a joke. It wasn’t the first administration to say such, the talk by the previous administration was never implemented. It seemed the new administration meant it. The campaign was rather massive, almost everywhere on campus one turned and saw a banner with inkblot inscription, No tuition, no exam, and anytime I saw this my heart leapt.

Back then I owed fees for two whopping terms. I didn’t know who to turn to. Missing an exam in a final year would amount to having an extra year automatically, which I couldn’t see myself dealing with. I prayed and hoped, like an unrepentant devout Christian.

Exams commenced eventually. Only those who had paid were allowed into the exam halls. It wasn’t so bad anyways, quite a number of students missed the first exam, after which a friend told me that not all students who got in had truly paid, some gained access via one dubious means or the other. So, he came up with a strategy to allow me to sit for the rest of the exams, which worked, but only for the second day of the exams.

Exam day three, I was caught, accused of fabrication of payment receipt. I was embarrassed in front of the whole class and nearly implicated my friend — thank the almighty that he wasn’t caught.

It was hurtful to hear some friends whom I’d confided in saying spiteful things about me after the rather unfortunate incident. I realised that not a lot of people would be by your side when things really get sour. There was not enough left in me to hold grudges against anyone, as I myself was to blame. I realised I missed an opportunity which would have changed everything for the better for me.

A mail which I didn’t check until some days after the prize presentation day had been delivered to me, just four days before exams commenced, by organisers of a contest I’d participated in. I was one of the shortlisted winners having scored over 70%.

In the end, all my tuition was paid by the organisers of the contest. I learned not to blame my treacherous friends as we still had to work together in class.


Tell us: Do you think the friends were to blame at all? Why or why not?