Aunty Kopa, come and see

Aunty Kopa, come and see

In Another Man’s Land (Episode 3)

Mondays were made to be hellish for the working class. The unarmed forces of the NYSC were not excluded, especially those who got to act as teachers.

The first day Linda stepped into the joint primary 3 A and B class, she had been ushered in by the bald headmaster with a whisker-ish moustache. With his lips making a 60-degree smile, he looked over the heads of the wide-eyed kids as he introduced the new Kopa.

 “So hello class.” He greeted the bored pupils who looked on curiously at the fair lady in green khaki.

“Hi,” They replied.

“Are you feeling sleepy?”

“Yes” They chorused.

Linda looked on at the exchange of small talk and made mental notes to learn their gugu gaga. It would do no teacher good if her students didn’t understand her.

Follow up and Disappointment are 5 & 6

So, this is your new class teacher, last year, we are dealing with de oder class teacher, Uncle. But today, this term, we are going to deal with eh aunty which is a Kopa, not any other aunty. Are you getting me? She is eh officer, if you mess up, she will mess you down. So, please be serious. Cooperate with her, loff her so she can also loff you people.

“Okay.” The kids answered. Linda wondered what in the Tiv-English was going on. Or was it just the headmaster’s peculiarity? Besides, who were they dealing with? She thought.

Don’t mess her ooo. If you want to mess, you should take excuse and go outside. If you mess her, she can beat you very well. Thank you.” The man warned before leaving her to the kids. He seemed like the headmaster whose words you had to hold on to if you loved your life.

Linda had smiled at the little children who stood up to greet her in their loud soprano “Good mooorning Aunty, may God bless you. We are happy to see you in our class. Are you?” She was fascinated by the special greeting and thought she was in a children’s heaven. After a few weeks with the kids she thought could be handled with love, they had shown her shege that surpassed that of Fulani herdsmen. They were the kind that had to be caned severally. One scapegoat had to be made an example almost every day in the class.

It was the third week, and another glorified Monday. After hurriedly dashing out of the family house, almost forgetting the NYSC cap that completed her mufti, and aided recognition as a federal government pikin, Linda had no choice but to sit at the front of the yellow keke with the rider and another passenger at the other side. She would have to wait at least ten minutes more if she wanted a tricycle with a comfortable seat.

On dropping Linda at her stop, the keke rider, while searching for fifty Naira note change for her asked with a small smile, “Aunty Kopa, are you Igbo or Yoruba?” Linda smiled and would have replied if not for the fifty Naira note handed to her. It was cellotaped on both sides. The tear lines looked like the trail of the river Niger.

“I cannot collect this money oo.”

“They will collect it, Aunty Kopaaa,” The keke rider smiled and zoomed off with the remaining passengers. Linda sighed. She was getting late already. If she didn’t hurry up, the assembly would be done by the time she arrived. And the headmaster wouldn’t spare her his bombastic side eyes. Thankfully, she was in time for the short children-friendly sermon by the teacher in charge of the assembly.

Aunty-Primary-5 was in charge of the assembly. With a white scarf over her head, she opened a Good News Bible with its front hardcover missing.


“When I’m preaching, as well, I will be beating you to flog out the demons out of you,” Aunty-Primary-5 said. Linda looked at her fellow corper who was busy rearranging the kids on the assembly line, hoping he caught the line. Since resuming her class teacher job, she was constantly barraged by the culture shock.

“If you are happy, shut up your mouth!” She snapped again. Some of the kids were making noise. Then she looked over them as she continued her sermon on purity.

“As little as you are, some of you have done it before, you are no longer a virgin,” Bells rang in Linda’s head at the crude words coming out of Aunty-Primary-5’s mouth. There were 6-year-olds and 16-year-olds in the same assembly. Linda could only wonder how important it was for 6-year-olds to hear these words.

As usual, instead of in a single file, the children ran into their various classes after the assembly, some to hide their dirty uniforms or torn socks and avoid being picked out by the headmaster’s eagle eyes. If they were caught, they would be flogged like snakes. On reaching the class, Linda found the primary 3 class students seated in a class littered with torn paper, sweet wrappers and nylons with colourful biscuit brands. Linda sighed, the kids had refused to sweep their class that morning. If the school director happened to pass by, he would say it was her fault. Linda, already exhausted from the anticipated troubles of the day, only asked the pupils at the front desk to pick up the debris at the front. They would learn to live in their dumpsite of a classroom.

Aunty kopa, come and see. In another man's land
Image of pupils at a school. Image taken by Olabode Oluwabukola Ruth

The day went on smoothly until break time when Wuesunenter, the class monitor ran to the teacher’s table and in her haste, knocked down some white chalk off the table. Panting, said in her loudest voice, “Aunty Kopa, come and see!”

Linda stood up from her stool and followed the girl to the scene of whatever had happened again. In a corner of the school compound were two boys. One had blood rushing down his left cheek. The other boy had jabbed him in an old wound with a pen. The blood flowed like water, and the pupils decided to turn it into a live movie.

The previous week, the distress call of “Aunty Kopa, come and see!” was coined because of Aunty Linda’s hero-without-cape initiative. Now, that was a joke. It was originally her business as a class teacher to oversee the welfare of her students. She was the lawyer, prosecutor, judge and jury over any disputes among them. And Linda had made severe examples of those caught taking the law into their own hands.

For a long while, “Aunty Kopa, come and see!” would be Primary 3’s 911 until Linda grew weary of acting the messiah. Her invisible cape would be battered then, and she would have dreams of stubborn teenagers shouting “Aunty Kopa, come and see!” Maybe it would be the end of her service year then. Just maybe.

To be continued…Join 70+ email subscribers to be the first to receive the next episode.


Kopa: Local variant of Corper

Gugu gaga: Originally used to imitate baby talk

De oder: The other

Loff: A variant of love

Mess: Fart (Depending on context)

Keke: A tricycle, usually yellow

Shege: Extreme/unpleasant situation

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