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How Julia Got the Job

A Story by Henry Chukwuemeka Onyema (Nigeria)

Henry C Onyema is a teacher, historian and author. His short fiction has won awards in and outside Nigeria. In 2020 he published a novella titled ‘In Love and In War.’ Email:


How Julia Got the Job

Armed with a very good Second-Class Upper degree in accounting and a commendable performance in her ICAN examinations, Julie felt ready to get her dream job. She had the brains; she had the personality; she had the integrity; she even had the looks. Moderately tall, elegantly slim, and endowed with a comely oval face and a flawless earth brown skin, Julie was created by God on the day He was happy.

But this is Nigeria. There are no good jobs, unless you have connections. In the case of a hot babe like Julie with an organised ‘Manchester’ and an evilly sumptuous ‘assnal’, those who had the connections she needed wanted a sample of her goods. But Julie was resolute: only her fiancé, Franklin, had the right to park his car in her garage.

But the years were going on. Franklin loved her dearly and was working like mad, but his civil servant salary could not pay his bills, let alone Julie’s bride price. The pressure mounted.

Two days after her twenty-seventh birthday Julie leafed onto a job advert in ‘The Guardian’ newspaper. A big company with headquarters at Lekki wanted trainee accountants, marketers and administrative officers within the age range of 23 to 29. The minimum qualification was first degree in a 2’1 class. Julie met all their requirements beautifully. But one point stood out in the ad: ‘Applicants must show tangible proof of being daring and go-getting; unconventional attitude to challenges.’

Julie wracked her brains. How do I answer this one? All of a sudden, as she entered the cybercafé on her street to download the company’s application form from its site, a zany thought made her smile. She got to the section of the form that specified sex and filled in ‘Twice a week.’ Technically it was true; she and Franklin made the bed bounce even more than that if you included extended weekends and public holidays. She suppressed any misgiving as she clicked the ‘submit’ button. ‘They want daring; if this is not proof of daring then what is?’ she concluded. She did not tell Franklin what she did though she informed him about her application for the job.

The company called her for an interview a week later. There were only eight of them, five ladies and three men. All of them looked so calm and cool in their suits that Julie knew instinctively that the spirit of nervousness was upon them. Including me, she thought with a smile. She was the last person to be summoned before the panel of three well-fed, well-dressed men and two polished women. She smothered a feeling of naked transparency as they smiled professionally at her.

‘‘Miss Julie Atigbeye?’’ asked the panel chairman.

‘‘Yes, sir.’’ Julie’s long legs shook in her skirt, and she wondered if the earth was moving under her.

The smiles on the faces of the panelists expanded.

‘‘Congratulations. You just got the job of Chief Trainee Marketer,’’ said the chairman.


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