The Education of Zombies

In “The Zombie Survival Guide”, Max Brooks wrote, “Often a school is your best bet—perhaps not for education but certainly for protection from an undead attack”. Whereas some readers would interpret this as meaning schools are sanctuaries, safe from zombies, I see a different picture. Brook’s assertion is very true, especially with regards to Nigerian tertiary schools. In case of a zombie attack in Nigeria, as a student, you would be very safe, being a zombie among zombies.

In June 2014, students of Obafemi Awolowo University organized a series of peaceful protests in response to the increase in school fees by the school management. In reacting, the management ordered students to evacuate the campus, despite the fact that the protests did not satisfy the school’s own conditions for closure. Student Union leaders had tried to play smart around the rules to avoid a shutdown. The authorities did not fall for the trick; the campus had to be closed. Similar protests in 2015 against poor welfare conditions led to the school being closed once again, and the slamming of spurious charges on some student leaders, leading to their suspension. Through these actions, the management was actively passing a message—follow the routine, make no attempt to disrupt the environment, no matter how messed up the environment may be.

This month, the authorities in the University of Lagos took a leaf from the recommended playbook in Ife. Students were ordered to evacuate the campus for daring to protest the unavailability of electricity and water in an academic environment. The management apparently did not want further “embarrassment” after earlier protests about bedbug harassment.

At Nigeria’s premier university, the University of Ibadan, a similar drama was recently enacted. Students protested poor welfare conditions in their hostels, and as a result, a student was suspended. Using #FreeMote, UI students called for their colleague’s reinstatement. Their call was met by an evacuation order from the management. This is a management that indicted student for daring to replace a faulty water pump with their own money. It is obvious the UI management is against the use of their student’s brains for thinking or problem solving.

In the aforementioned incidents, one can say that at least, no student’s life was lost. This cannot be said of the University of Port Harcourt. In UniPort, students protesting against school fees-induced level repetition were met with bullets from police rifles. Contrary to the lies being peddled by the school management and the police, at least two students lost their lives. Regardless of the rightness or wrongness of the students’ protest, it is clear that the management does not believe in the right of students to protest perceived injustices, nor does it believe in negotiating with them.

The schools above are part of the top ten tertiary institutions in Nigeria. What has been described here are examples of the present state of affairs in Nigeria. If we are to assume that the best schools have a convergence of the best students, then we can safely say that some of Nigeria’s brightest minds are being taught not to think, to ensure the perpetuation of the status quo, which is a fundamental step in zombie proselytization. If this is happening in the top schools, what hope is there for the other schools? With social media addiction already limiting the thinking ability of Nigerian students, this school management-led zombification is ensuring that self-awareness and thinking would soon be part of nostalgic cravings.

All over the world, several incidents have shown the ability of students to make changes in society, to influence policy decisions and government actions. Here in Nigeria, the 70s and 80s witnessed the power of student influence in national issues. Persons such as Gani Fawehinmi were groomed in the campuses of Nigerian universities. Student activism nurtured by the intellectualism in the educational system groomed students to think, to question the status quo, to be disruptors for positive development.

It is a moral contradiction that some of those in management positions in Nigerian institutions are members of a generation known for protests. Their generation protested over “mere” reduction in the size of chickens being offered in school canteens. Compared to the demands of the present generation, theirs do not count as demands. How can someone who protested for bigger cuts of chicken excoriate another for demanding for electricity? Which is indispensable to proper learning, fried chicken or electricity”.

There is just so much wrong with Nigeria today. These problems require people who can think up solutions. In order to think of solutions, one must first see a problem as a problem, not as a normative construct. If students are conditioned to see challenging problems as an evil to be avoided, what use would their brains be after graduation? This is why many students cram to pass courses because they know that their lecturers don’t care about their brains—just follow the crowd and give out exactly what was given to you. This garbage–in—garbage—out conditioning would not help Nigeria.

The authorities may think that conditioning students to dump their brains would help the schools maintain a façade of stability. However, since a zombie does not think, all that is required for sporadic violence is someone skilfully leading the zombies. If in doubt, ask the suicide bombers; once zombified, every instruction is the best (only) instruction, no questions asked. Some students would undoubtedly try to oppose being turned into zombies, but like the OAU management showed in 2014, once zombification is an official policy, with each closure, the students’ resolve diminishes. As more Nigerians pass through the educational system, someday, we may all be zombies.

Image Credit: contraryperspective.com

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