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Literature Discussion -


Stephen Agboratang Makes his Dream

Chapter One

By Ndim Bernard Ngouche (Cameroon)


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Agboratang Stephen’s Junior Primary School studies at Government Primary School Akonakang (Class 1-3)

Akonakang, being a very populated village, was quickly turning into a small town. It was blessed to have a multitude of primary schools. These Schools were as follows:  government primary schools in Akonakang, the Catholic Primary Schools, the Presbyterian primary School and the Baptist Primary Schools. It equally had a lot of colleges and a University that made Akonakang an enviable citadel of Learning per excellence.
     Government Primary School Akonakang was a fantastic colourful edifice constructed with money from the state coffers to educate these kids of Akonakang.  It had four long buildings, thus forming a rectangle. Government Primary School, Akonakang had fourteen teachers who were charged to teach these young minds. This training done in their formative years was done so that they could become fantastic minds tomorrow so as to take over the relay baton from them when they phase out on retirement. It was a place that took delight in   owing seeds in the minds of these young ones as could be seen from their potential and attitude in and out of school. It was not only academics but equally moral and spiritual upbringing so that they in the society will not become moral dwarfs. His Head Teacher, Thaddeus                                               Alphonsious, was a man of rigour and firm pricipals. He handled his School with an iron hand that made him look like an angel in the eyes of his teachers and even amongst those who had envied his position. The brilliant performance of Government Primary School Akonakang sent his distracters running and screaming for he had given them a run for their money. Competence like truth ever wins at all circumstances. This places his school in the good books of the village head Brook Tataw Ntangtang and equally the Divisional officer Gomna Philips.
   Like most of the kids attending school, Agboratang went to School bare footed. His Uniforms were always clean because he had learned at a very tender age the aesthetics of beauty. He loved his book work from the onset. Primary one was not a problem to him as he glided through without any difficulty. His lovely teachers, Madam Estella Nain and Musa Samuel, were a very good and understanding pair. Madam Estella Nain and her colleague, Musa Samuel, gave their all in the formative years of these children. Being very fantastic moulds themselves, it made it so possible for them to realize Stephen Agboratang as a very exceptional pupil. His star they said was still to shine and indeed it shone like the star it was to be. Stephen Agboratang passed to class two with a distinction.  This class had 56 pupils and he was the brightest and the most outstanding.
   Class two was the beginning of the real journey. Here he met new teachers and equally new friends, either those who were repeating or on transfer. His new teachers this time around were all women. They were called Madam Quinta Obosi and Madam Edang Gracia. They were warm and caring to their pupils. Stephen was still their place of joy as his performances kept dazzling them. Thinking of his long trek to School in a sprint, his age and performance it was all a marvel. Though from an average background, he never made any noise in class or pulled any attention despite his intelligence. Here he learned to do multiplication, subtraction, division and addition of smaller number or figures. He was as good in English as he spoke only Standard English to his friends and teachers. His father was always proud of him and his achievements.   He did not feel ever letting himself down or his parents.
John Peters was his closest friend and almost a brother. Their friendship had been woven like a cobweb net over the ages. They were born on the same day and in the same maternity in the community cottage Hospital, the pride of Akonatang.Their parents were equally very close friends and this seemed to have cemented a relationship that was almost like a bond.  They both shared the same dreams and nurtured similar ambitions. They both loved their book work and had tall dreams. Unlike Stephen Agboratang, his closest pal, John Peters dream was to become a Professor dishing out lectures in Chemistry.  Besides John Peters were some neighbors who equally knew Stephen Agboratang but were never given any space to be so close.  Their only closeness was when they had to play a game of football or hide and seek.     After this game plan, all was over and each of them maintained their camps as if nothing ever happened. 
Madam Quinta Obosi and Edang Gracia were so pleased with the output of both Stephen and John Peters in class. They often were bought bananas and some gateaux on break as a show of motivation and moral support.  This delighted them but stupefied their classmates as they failed to understand what was happening. They resorted to jealousy and open hatred to the extend that their teachers were compiled to hold a class meeting explaining their modus operandi to them. After this class meeting, the tension of the pupils of Class two A saw its grave and a cordial relationship once more saw the light of the day. This Class of giants was no easy task to handle for it had a lot of bright pupils and competition was often rife.  It had 68 pupils and close to 20 of them were repeaters. It was a lively class though and their teachers were very proud of them after each passing day. This was because they knew that it had many great minds that were going to honour them in the near future.
     The third term examinations in class two were to him the most challenging, he had stiff competition from those who had repeated and wanted to show their parents they equally had put in efforts.  Stephen Agboratang was no small weight when it came to working hard to keep a clean record; that of always being first in class or being on the honour list. He read his books as if it were a different examination that he was preparing.   This great work packed full of conviction paid so highly when he performed extremely well; beating all time records by scoring an outstanding Average of 18.5 on 20.  He was like over the moon when the results were announced on the closing day.
         On the long vacation his head foozled with so many great plans that were to keep him busy so as to make his parents happy with him. His plans were to stay and give assistance to his mother in the farm. The farm was a long way away from home; though was never a problem to Stephen Agboratang for he knew the gains he will benefit in the farm with his mother. All the roasted sugar yams and cocoyam were given to him to eat. This gave him a place of pride in his mother’s heart. Stephen Agboratang’s holiday was so fun filled, yet he never forgot his best part of life; working so hard for his future dream to come true. The holidays were so enjoyable and soon the close to four months was over and the School bells were ringing once more.
                   Class three was the last class of his junior primary school and it was still full of suspense and anxiety. He was still to attend his first lesson and still to know his teachers and class mates except his friend John Peters. Class three had two teachers whose names were Mr.Agbor Hans Messombe and Mr. James Clifton. Class three had an enrollment of 85 because so many transferred cases were recorded either being children of workers or new teachers posted to Government Primary School; Akonakang. Having an increasing number of pupils as each year passes was like a threat to Stephen Agboratang. He had to sit up or be floored by other pupils. This situation lighted his fighting and combative spirit as he kept the hopes of his treasured position alive. Stephen and John Peters kept working so hard so as to maintain the first and second positions they have held since they started school in class one.  It warranted them to be extremely hard working and meticulous in all their work so as to stay clear of any competitors. The duo took a decision to work so hard and do everything as if it were the very last. First term results spoke for themselves as they still maintained their positions on the honour role. The third, fourth, fifth and many others were all occupied by new pupils who wanted to show their ability and turn tides in a new environment. Mr.Agbor Hans and Mr. James Clifton were equally new teachers transferred to the School. The performance of Stephen Agboratang and John Peters were so remarkable and their teachers beamed with joy. The Second and third term results were not different from those of the first term.  Now they were out of the Junior Primary School and went home looking forward to moving to class four. For the first time in his life; was Stephen asked by the parents to go to an uncle’s home for holidays. His Class three Summer Holiday was the most interesting and interactive for he watched films and had a lot of games to play with his little cousins as young as he was. His uncle enjoyed his presence and bought for him gifts so as to give him an atmosphere that was condusive and friendly. This was taken into consideration that he came from the small town that had so much food. His uncle made him sure he ate the best of meals and to his fill. His face beamed with plenty of joy each moment his uncle’s vehicle was visible. If Stephen was to be asked if he should rather remain with his father’s brother, the answer would have been a ready yes. The Uncle knew his erratic mind for he too once was young and loved when all attention was his.  The uncle prepared his things so that he could go back to Akonakang at the end of his holiday. Stephen Agboratang was so happy and delighted to have spent a very joyous and nice holiday. Stephen was bought all his books and three pairs of Uniforms. This threat was so short lived as Stephen learned with utter shock and dismay, the sudden death of his beloved uncle. Only his father and his wives went for the burial of his uncle leaving behind Stephen Agboratang in charge of the home. It took them close to two weeks to return home. He could not understand why it should be him of all people to die so sudden.  A dark cloud seems to be hanging over his fate like a dark nimbus cloud signaling a heavy shower after a storm.  Stephen sobbed and sobbed uncontrollably as if his world had collapsed leaving him all alone. His mother rolled her soft hands around his neck and comforted him saying” weep not son, as if you do not know that you shall meet again when the trumpet of the Lord shall sound” This word of wisdom and consolation could only come from his mother; he reasoned and then smiled. Mama thank you for being by me when the cloud of doubts came hitting my brain.  I won’t have known how to resolve this except weeping as I did before your soft hands came with the comfort and reassurance.  This strange effect that calmed his soul and molded his skin to become thick against adversity was only a prelude designed by fate to help propel him for the unforeseen shock that was still brewing in the making. Little did he know about the health history of his parents at his most painful moment?  Little did he know his father was having a terminal disease (diabetes) and his angelic mother so supportive was only going to be there for a while.


Continued next week...

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