Painting while ASUU Strikes

Kenechukwu Udeh

uhere painting2

A debate is being waged, a debate whose outcome is supposed to determine in the long run the turn of events for our dear country. ASUU has called a halt to all academic and tutoring work in protest to the state of affairs in the nation’s universities. While I eagerly await an amnesty and/or bail out – hopefully with Oshimolole’s intervention – from this lethargy, I went for a work camp packaged by Uhere Study Centre, Nsukka.

Most students all over the country are jobless, with so much time (days became weeks and then months) and yet nothing to do with it. Many of us now spend our days watching one movie after another, sometimes viewing as many as five a day (a killer for the future intellectual), roaming/touring the different cities with no real purpose, engaging in endless conversations from which we hardly gain anything constructive. Don’t quote me, but there may be a correlation between the violence and kidnapping in some flash spots in the country with this present bitter holiday. After all, the saying goes that an idle man is the devils workshop.

Being stiff tired and bored to death, I jumped at an invitation to participate in a work camp organised by Uhere Study Centre, a private hostel for male students of University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Uhere is a project of Education Cooperation Society (ECS), a registered charity in Nigeria. There were fifteen of us and the aim of the two-week camp was to paint a block of classrooms at the Holy Infant Nursery and Primary School Onuiyi Nsukka.

uhere painting3

Being armature painters, we had to learn the art of painting. Little did I know that it takes a lot to roll, dab, cut and mix paint? While we cheerfully made a mess of the painting, we excused our lack of professionalism to the fact that as students we are more at home at using our brains than our hands. And can you believe it; we were not paid for this job. It was free. That was what Uhere Study Centre has made us realize, while it may be easy to whine and bewail our condition, we call all make a difference. Thus, the work camp was a synergy: Uhere and ECS sourced for donations to buy the paints and feed us for two weeks, we contributed our labour while making the kids in the primary school in Onuiyi happy.

Other activities of the camp included soccer through which the campers learnt team work as well as kept themselves fit, movies nights and also a number of documentaries, after one of us exclaimed that everything here is beautiful. Excursions to Kogi State and S.J rapids in Eziagu, get-togethers where the campers were able to interact fraternally with one another. It was a camp of fun and work. The spiritual needs of the camp were provided by Opus Dei, an institution of the Catholic Church.

I was lucky to attend this camp; many others lacked a similar opportunity. It will be a massive encouragement, if many of our youths sort to use their day in constructive ways such as these and if the opportunities were afforded them. In this way we can have youths, leaders of tomorrow who not only dream or have heard of serving their nation as leaders but who really know and have lived out what it takes to serve society. By the way, in case you need a painter – this article is my ad – just call me. You would not be disappointed.         

Udeh is studying Economics in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.          

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