Archive for the ‘University of Ibadan’ Category

I experienced this sky on entering Ibadan on the way back from Lagos. I love clouds and this made me think of the heavens opening up. I love it.

What the Student Union Building on the University Campus looks like when there is no electricity. All of these are little generators that power the many copy machines and computers running at different stalls. Copying books and hiring people to type essays for you is a big business on campus.

UI students who do not live in dorms, or hostels live in places called Boys Quarters. This is a block of Boys Quarters where some of my friends live. I hang out here often.

A danfo, what we call mini buses that act as taxis, that is ridiculously full of some strange objects that I cannot identify. With the way danfos are packed to the brim with bags of rice, beans, pieces of cow until the back of the car is almost touching the ground, it's a wonder they can actually move.

Welcome to the butcher. Men carry wooden boards on their head and hawk huge slabs of meat around the market. The meat sits out in the sun and is not covered from flies or any other thing. If you want to buy, he takes it off his head and cuts you a piece, as seen in this picture.

birds on track

Birds stick to their lane on the University of Ibadan track. Apparently these birds come everyday to the track around twilight.

Shopping for ready made adire dresses in Surulere, Lagos. I just paused to observe the chicken next to me in this picture.

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The Obafemi Awolowo Hall polling place.

April 9th, the first day of Nigeria’s national elections that I observed at different polling places inside the University of Ibadan was an exercise in the purest, most proactive display of democracy I have ever witnessed. Nigerians lingered peacefully at polling places from early morning until late afternoon carefully monitoring the Independent National Election Commission officers’ every move for any signs of mistakes or rigging. The desire to guarantee that this is election fair and credible was palpable on campus Saturday.

“It doesn’t really matter who wins,” Ifeanyi, a post-graduate student in geography at UI said about the election for Senate and House of Representatives. “What matters is that the election is credible so if something goes wrong the only people we can blame are ourselves.”

Almost through with accreditation at the Awo polling place. The people on the ledge are waiting for the vote to start at noon.

After voting, Ifeanyi and his colleagues stood under the bus-stop-turned-polling place at Obafemi Awolowo Hall or “Awo” in UI–the largest dormitory in all of West Africa– waiting for the INEC officials (college graduates working for Nigerian government for their year of mandatory government service) to count the votes out loud.

Say no to election rigging

At Awo, around forty people huddled around a small table, all eyes transfixed on the stack of long paper ballots as the official counted each one, one to 202.

Down the road at Queen Idia Hall, a girls’ dormitory, observers stood and sat at the edge of an invisible makeshift barrier, five-feet away from the clear plastic ballot boxes as the lady

About 50 people stood by waiting to monitor the vote count and hear the results.

officiating held each of the 216 votes in the air, enunciating each increasing number clearly. Boys at Independence Hall hung over the balconies, stood on ledges, ran up and down halls with brooms in the air, cheering and yelling as the INEC official counted the senate votes for their favored political parties.

Everyone who made the choice to stand for the hour or so it took to manually count the votes did so for the prospect of a fair and credible election.

This is Nigeria’s third democratic election since the end of Sani Abacha’s military rule in 1999 and people are determined to make it the most transparent. In the previous two elections, voting officials at each polling place carried the ballot boxes away to local headquarters to count the votes. Later, they would announce a number that was almost always surely altered. The votes would inflate or deflate somehow to guarantee the candidates favored by people in power ascended. Other times, politically aligned thugs stormed polling places to steal ballot boxes full of votes. Politicians even paid people to vote for or against a certain candidate multiple times.

The all boys Independence Hostel. They cheered and yelled as INEC officials counted the votes Saturday.

On April 9th, the process looked different.

After the polls closed in UI, officials counted every vote in the box right in front of the people while security guards and police stood guard. Newspapers reported that police shot six thugs who tried to steal ballot boxes in Delta State Saturday.

To make it impossible for one person to vote multiple times all voters have to be accredited on the day of voting. Voters line up from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. to receive an indelible marker mark on their left hand nails that shows they have been accredited. Voting starts at noon and only accredited people can vote. After you vote, officials draw another indelible ink mark on your right hand nails.

“If they do the same thing they are doing [at the Obafemi Awolowo Hall polling place] throughout the country, then we will be very happy,” Abeni, a female teacher and doctor living in UI said in Yoruba.

Dark blue marker on the right hand thumb nail indicates she voted in the first election. The left hand means she is accredited.

April 9th’s election is the most fair she’s seen so far, “except for June 12th,” she said.

June 12th, 1993 is a date engrained in Nigeria’s memory as the country’s most fair and credible presidential election that resulted in one of the biggest disappointments in its history. The most popular candidate, M.K.O. Abiola, won and in an act of power, the military dictator of the time, Ibrahim Babangida annulled the election and paved the way for six more years of harsh military rule.

Many Nigerians are doing everything they can to see that this year’s election is the start of a new chapter, a true democracy.

Peaceful but poor turnout

Signs of a peaceful voting process were evident all over the UI campus Saturday. Walking along the leafy empty streets where few cars or okadas passed and the only sounds were the shrill squawk of birds sharply contrasted the chatter and excitement at each polling place.

The President of UI’s Students’ Union, Tokunbo Salako, better known as T-Cool, visited each of the eight polling places within UI Saturday and reported fewer students than expected at the polls. He noted multiple reasons for the low number of accredited people compared to the high number of people registered.

“Students don’t know who they want to vote for,” T-Cool said in Yoruba. “Or they have no patience to wait to be accredited. Some students also think they aren’t serious because they pushed the election forward.”

At Awolowo Hall, 1,421 people registered to vote and only 244 actually accredited.

T-Cool says he thinks the number of voters will increase with the presidential and gubernatorial elections coming up on April 16, and April 26 respectively. Candidates for the Senate and House of Representatives races are not as well known to students so they did not get out to the polls en masse, he said.

Counting and separating the ballots into those for senate and house of representatives at Awo..

Voting for Saturday’s election was more about the political parties than the candidates. The ballots listed the 10 political parties in a vertical line and voters put a thumb print next to their party choice, not a single candidates name appeared on either the house or senate ballot.

Omolara, a fourth year undergraduate studying Communications Language Arts held a megaphone in her hand as she stood behind the crowd of students listening to the vote count at Idia Hall. She walked around her hall that morning encouraging students to vote. “Ibo e, eto e ni, (your vote is your right)” she announced through the megaphone.

Back at Awo Hall, Ifeanyi saw the election process out from start to finish around 4 p.m. to see that “we get it right.”

“Barack Obama said Africa needs strong institutions, not strong men,” he said. “This is the only way we can have a stronger institution. If what we are witnessing here should spread throughout the country, then I think we are on our way.”

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The assignment was about community mobilization- encouraging a community of people to address an issue and see that they worked together towards the solution. Professor Ojebode told the fifty of us in the Communication Development class that we were to choose a primary school within the University of Ibadan campus or outside in the city to do a mobilization project about hand washing. Why it is important for kids to wash their hands, when they should wash and what they can wash with if there is no water. My group decided to take another route. We chose St. Matthews Primary School in Ajibode, a neighborhood just on the other side of a very threatening bridge far out in the UI campus. Our topic was wearing shoes, why it’s important and what can happen if you do not wear shoes. Many school children in Nigeria walk barefoot outside regularly.

Women carrying loads, starting the journey over the bridge that connects UI campus at the botanical gardens and Ajibode.

The hot sand can burn their feet, the vast assortment of sharp trash on the ground can cut them, walking through puddles of stagnant water after the rains can give them terrible parasites.

If you step too close to the sides, this is what you could fall into. During the rainy season, the water level reaches the bridge.

The list goes on. On the day of the presentation, we met laughs, lyrical songs, and loud voices of the small school children. Poverty was apparent there. Some kids didn’t have shoes or the money to fix their torn blue and white striped school uniforms. Pictures alone could not capture the mood of that morning, so I made this video to share with everyone.

My group members walking back towards campus after a very successful morning at the school.

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Today, April 2nd, 2011, is the first of three consecutive Saturdays of the national election. Today, millions of Nigerians will go to their polling places, wait for obscene amounts of time to elect members of the National Assembly. Nigerians will elect 90 senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives today, choosing candidates from over 50 political parties.

Next Saturday, April 9th is the presidential election, followed by the elections for state governor on April 16.

The buzz word for the next three weeks is “no movement.” Everybody is planning to stay at home on Saturdays, and not move around outside too much because political groups are prone to fighting in the streets and we innocent citizens do not want to be caught in the cross-fire. So for the next three Saturdays I will not be leaving University of Ibadan campus. I will be going around to the UI polling places for the next three Saturday’s to do my own investigation and add insight to the mix.

To put it out in the open, no, I am not voting because I am not Nigerian. You would be surprised at the number of people who ask me that.

234Next, one of Nigeria’s independent newspapers is doing minute by minute coverage of the vote. I am watching it attentively.

Now I am off to the field to find out just what is going on. Follow me on Twitter @TitiOyinbo to see what I uncover.

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I conversed with these ladies this afternoon after eating at Tafewa Balewa post graduate hall at UI.

Water tanks at Zik Hall at UI. Boys in this dorm come here daily to fetch their water in buckets and bring it back to their rooms.

Three girls hanging out at ZIk Hall where their mom works in a shop.

A little girl holding a custard bucket.

Spotted: extremely unfortunate school uniforms. Pink and purple? I pity the kids who wear these uniforms. Had to snap Abike to make sure it wasn't obvious I was snapping the uniforms.

The main entrance to University of Ibadan-Nigeria's Premier University. Cars and pedestrians pass through this gat to get into the city, 'igboro'. Agbowo is the name of the neighborhood directly in front of UI.

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Goats are part of the crowd on campus. Here, in front of Tedder Hall on the University of Ibadan campus, two goats meander around, looking for something to nibble.

The newly remodeled Trenchard garden, commonly called the Love Garden at UI. People sit and gist under the canopies with the Trenchard clock tower looming behind. During convocation time, the square is filled with graduates and their families celebrating.

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Hard to believe it’s already February 7th. The dry heat of the harmattan teased us with a short return, but now it’s back to the sticky, wet, unbearably hot humidity. Most of my friends in Wisconsin are probably still reeling from last night’s Super Bowl win. I decided not to watch the game because it would have meant staying up until 5 a.m. In a country where hardly anyone knows what the Super Bowl is, I figured I could forgo it this year. Congratulations to all the Packers fans out there.

I took these pictures today in between my two classes and many conversations with professors and students about the situation in Egypt. An interesting story is coming about Nigerian’s opinions of the revolutions spreading through many of Africa’s Arab countries.

View of UI from the top floor of Faculty of Arts. On the right you see the student agriculture fields and the left is the Faculty of Education.

My new friends and I posing in the Faculty of Arts quadrangle between classes. These girls are all my age, in my African Prose Fiction class.

Women all over campus, like these three here, work all morning and early afternoon sweeping leaves, debris and red dust for the street to make UI campus clean and beautiful. Sometimes I think these ladies do the most work out of anyone on campus.

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tree blocking gate UI

This tree fell in October, blocking the path between Social Sciences and the sports fields. I duck my head under the tree everyday to get to class.

Sunday afternoon study session on the bleachers. I have passed this place a few times when the bleachers were full and a class was in session.

A typical January day. The path behind the freshly painted faculty of arts.

Trees and bushes line the path behind Faculty of Arts at University of Ibadan.

The dusts from the harmattan season cover the UI tennis courts.

The yard of the Student Union Building quiet on a Sunday afternoon. During the week the place is filled with students, people selling phone cards, books, magazines and snacks.

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tedder hall UI

Tedder Hall boy's hostel, University of Ibadan

I appreciate the architecture around University of Ibadan so much because of how geometric it is. So many of the buildings build tessellations into their design. You see repeating shapes on buildings all over. They all catch my eye and add to the beauty of this campus.

UI library fac of arts

Tesellations. A front view of the University of Ibadan library and part of Faculty of Arts

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Well it’s 12 days into the new year, over a month after we thought we would be starting class at the University of Ibadan, and neither classes nor registration has started yet. Our Yoruba teachers at the Language Flagship center on campus have finally decided to resume Yoruba classes while we wait for U.I. to get organized. U.I. was supposed to start on December 6th but the professors requested more time off for break so they extended the date to January 3rd. Now I hear registration hasn’t even started for some reason unknown to me, so we won’t start classes until next week at the earliest. I have come to understand that this is just Nigeria, nothing happens on time. We have been on break from all classes for the past two and a half months but at least signs of academic life are starting to show. Freshers are starting to pour into campus. Shiny faced girls with brand new weave ons walk in packs, exploring their new home. Really young looking boys with tight jeans and black rimmed glasses saunter around, looking all freshman like. Campus is coming to life. In Nigeria, first year University students are usually between 16 and 18 years old. They go to University after completing SS3 (secondary school level 3) and after taking the WAEC (West African Examination Council) exam.

Starting a new college semester is always something I look forward to. The idea of getting back in the academic and social groove with fascinating classes excites me. Reuniting with friends and meeting new ones in classes is the best. But this semester I have a totally different set of nerves. I am anxious but patient, excited but fearful. Overall, I am ready. Academically, I have no idea what to expect from this semester at the University of Ibadan. Will it be difficult? Will I have to study hard? I don’t even understand how we register for classes. Friends is an entirely other situation since I will know absolutely no one on the first day but everyone will surround me and ask me mine. It already takes me twice as long to walk home as it did four days ago because of all the people– complete strangers and people I’ve met once and don’t remember at all–who greet me on the way. At least all of the University classes are in English (except the foreign language classes) so I can soak up the new environment with the ease of understanding the professor without too much attention.

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