Day two of the #UgBlogWeek under the theme: School Made me no better.
The first election I ever participated in was in my primary 5. My friend was running for assistant head girl and I was her self-appointed campaign manager. This was the first time she ever aspired for any leadership role. She had none of the makings of the ideal assistant head girl. She was stubborn, haughty and as a result she often fell prey to teachers looking to make an example. Where her opponent was aloof and disciplined, Sarah was insolent and chaotic. Charisma was her saving grace.
Campaign, we did. We asked Mr. Nsereko for manila and markers and set to making the posters. We placed them on every wall in the school, alongside other candidate’s, and when the littering issue couldn’t be contained, we placed them inside every class and dormitory. We cajoled the lower primary pupils into giving us their votes. To guarantee our vote come Election Day, Sarah asked her parents for some extra pocket money so she could buy kenafric for her voters.
Soon enough, voting day was here and she won the election by a very large percentage.
Being a prefect in my primary school entitled one to a measure of privilege. A prefect did not do housework, did not make lines for food and did not get sent to fetch water for the teacher on duty. They did not sweep the class or pick rubbish. A prefect did not get written as a noise maker, because if they were caught saying something in class, it must have been important, or they must have been telling somebody to keep quiet. All their transgressions were addressed in the staffroom, unlike the common folk who got flogged publicly at any time. We were taught to respect our prefects because they came next to our teachers, who came next to our parents, who were God’s representatives on earth. With all this immunity and a promise to never be caned again, who wouldn’t want to be a prefect?
The lot of us who couldn’t muster the courage to present our manifestos in front of all the teachers settled for being the prefect’s friends. If they could get away with almost anything, I would imagine being their friend wouldn’t be too shabby.
As Sarah’s friends, We got free passes to dodging morning prep, under the guise of cleaning up dorm, cutting lines because we came right behind her and we didn’t appear on any noise making lists no lists because we made the noise right beside her.
Leadership entitled us to privilege. And privileged we craved. Lots of students went into leadership because they did not care to be harassed anymore, only a negligible percentage truly understood what service above self meant.
Our prefects were not nurtured, or given specific tools to carry out their roles. All they had was the title and entitlement. With one person holding a post for three years, (because popularity prevailed), ingratiation wasn’t so bad because we all knew being a prefect, or a prefect’s ally was the best way to enjoy the dreadful days in a boarding primary school.
The values of leadership such as respect, integrity, service, mitigation and humility went ignored as we chose leaders whose immunity we could share. Progressive leaders were set aside for more agreeable ones because they could have made our lives miserable, with their desire to promote strict adherence to rules and regulations. But to what gain?
As I went on to secondary school, and university, this still hadn’t changed much. People launched campaigns littered with promises of effective communication between the student’s body and administration, system changes and concessions but always went back on their promises once their comfortable lives set in. Here we are now, living the life that school prepared us for and this seed that was planted has germinated. Where leadership is used for personal gain.
It is our responsibility to make the best of our selves, to be the best leaders, the best subordinates and the best people. I can’t put this on schools. But considering schools are our nurturing grounds, and in as much as talent and leadership has been developed in schools, what has been done of the motive? Do we produce more self-interest leaders or shall altruism prevail?