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'Akki Ola'

Mawuli Zogbenu 1212.jpeg Mawuli Zogbenu is the author

Fri, 18 Mar 2022 Source: Mawuli Zogbenu

Every problem is called a problem because it has a solution. No bi so? But that has not nothing to do with me a far as Mathematics is concerned.

When I entered secondary school in the early 90’s, I was a complete nino looking very sheepish wearing socks which were as long as the necks of the biblical daughters of Anak! The first tutor I met was B’kassa.

A young sharp brain tutor, he looked at me with an unwelcome smile as if to tell me to go back to Kisseman. I later got to know he was the one going to teach me Elective Maths. Me? Elective Maths? Hmmm! Here I was in the midst of very very rich and super intelligent classmates from Christ the King, Morning Star, University Primary, Achimota Primary, etc. Their grammar? Eish!

What excited me most was the fact that I had escaped narrowly from being a casket carpenter, a trade my dad wanted me to go and learn after JSS. I told myself even if I would be a casket maker at all, I needed secondary education first. I couldn’t blame him bcos he didn’t understand the essence of formal education. He didn’t understand what aggregate 6 obtained by his son from BECE meant; all he understood was San 7! When you finish, go and learn carpentery! Matter close!

God being so good, I sailed through to enter vars by which time my father was long gone - dead! Later after varsity, I got a part-time job as a Mathematics pupil teacher and I was to teach this rich man’s children after my national service.

Hmmmm. I worked for only two non-productive months and got fired. The man’s first child, Joseph failed kportorrrr and the second one was almost strangulated by the school’s headmaster for not knowing anything. I taught her all the robb*sh and she lost interest in attending my class. They were my neighbours.

Having attended KNUST, the biggest mistake this man made was to assume that everyone who attended Tek was a ‘sharp-brain’ in Mathematics. Chai! The ego of a university graduate did not allow me to say NO. besides I needed a job to survive.

All I said was: ‘No Problem’! I wanted to prove to the man that indeed I go Tek ampa so Maths no be problem at all. He didn’t know that ‘Tek dey Tek inside’. I didn’t want to reject this job offer bcos I didn’t want the man to know that I was empty-headed in maths!

Nervously, with some fake confidence, I decided to teach this man’s son, a JHS 2 boy Maths to prepare for BECE. This boy ended up teaching me Maths oo, ei!

I often would take the text book and ask him if he knew about ‘Akki Ola’ and the topic for that day would be on Akkiola saaaa till classes ended. Nothing new! In fact, it was not easy to pass Maths if you failed to use Akki Ola as your study guide. May the Professor’s soul rest in peace!

In teaching this boy, I would pick a mathematical question to solve and it appeared my only specialty was in the topic ‘Transformation’. Simple quadratic equations, even common ‘Factorization’ and ‘Simplification’ were my biggest headache and unfortunately for me that was where my services were needed most bcos the boy didn’t really have a problem with Transformation but still, my lesson notes were always about ‘Transformation’. Even when we were treating a separate topic, I would still find a way to squeeze ‘Transformation’ into it.

As for the Pi R square, I made this boy sleep throughout the classes and believe me, that was good for me bcos I was convinced that if things didn’t go well in the exam, which was obviously going to be the case, I could blame it on the boy not being serious. Anytime I set a question on the board, this boy would say the question is wrong. On almost all occasions, I admitted that the question was indeed wrong without knowing what exactly was wrong even after he’s drawn my attention to it!

In correcting the question, I often got it wrong again and I would be sweating. That would immediately retire this boy into sleeping mode. I would be there talking to myself and praying for the lights to go off so I could close and go home and rest.

On one such occasion, this boy’s father, my employer came to stand to observe how his son was being ‘sharpened’ to ‘blow’ Maths so he could continue to do Physics at the university. The boy’s father would often go like: ‘Joe, I hope you are picking up very fast. You are so lucky to have this man as your Maths tutor. I have heard so much about Mr Mawuli and how he used to top the Petroleum Engineering Class at Tek with first class’.

I don’t know where he got that erroneous information about me from. (Ei! Me? Do Engineering? With what IQ in Maths? Yes, there were those who knew the answer to all maths-related questions even before the lecturer finished setting them.

‘R raised to the power puin times V multiplied by K divided by Z and they already know X! They were born with Maths. Greetings o, Professor Lord Mensa of the University of Ghana Business School. This guy was a wizard in Mathematics in our Tek days! Herh!

For me, one of the questions I hated in Maths were questions that go like: ‘If it takes 8 people to weed a football park in 2 days, how many days would it take 20 people to weed the same park? Weytin concern me with football park, Mr Dadson?

When the boy’s dad seemed to praise me with my ‘expertise’ in Maths, I dished out this unnecessary smile to what seemed like an attestation to an otherwise untrue compliment that obviously set me up for more trouble.

I was sweating and the man even said a joke about how he didn’t like Maths himself and how he envies people like Mr Mawuli, the Maths ‘Professor’ from Tek.

It was not the kind of joke that could tickle me to laugh. Kai! All I remember saying while sweating profusely was ‘oh as for Maths, the problem is usually with the students o but you see…’. You see what? oh! The boy’s mother brought me a bottle of chilled coke. I gulped down half of it and it was more like a boiling oil, very hot!

Fortunately, and unfortunately for me, the lights went off at that point.

I thanked God in my heart but that joy was to last only a few minutes. This ‘devil’ of a father brought a rechargeable lamp in order that I would continue with the day’s lessons with his son. Eeiii! Wahala dey oo. That was when I immediately developed diarrhea. The man was not smart. At that point I am sure the boy knew I was worsening matters for him.

In fact, I don’t know how I survived that night. The thought of going back to work again the following day kept me awake. I gave myself vim but still…or should I resign or feign sickness and disappear?

My student switched off long since and was only physically present in my class just to satisfy all righteousness as far as his stern Dad was concerned!

He went to write the BECE and as to whether he passed or not, hmmm!

On my way home from my regular work, I heard on radio that WAIC had released the results of the BECE and that the pass rate for Mathematics was generally not impressive. My heart missed a beat. When I got home, I was told Mr Dadson and a policeman brother of his came to look for me and that I should come home for dinner. ‘Trojan horse’ dinner bi this. I foresaw trouble!

That was when I relocated immediately from my West Legon residence to Gbawe! I messed the future of the boy up. He is a big boy now. He currently carves dondo drums to sell but he would have been a better dondo maker today if he had continued up to some level. His Mathematics was on a very bad footing. His dreams of becoming a Physicist were shattered; I caused it, regrettably.

Since then, I have learnt to tell people: ‘I can’t do it’ if I know it is not something I am capable of. After all, since the days of Adam and Eve, no 2 persons have the same fingerprint. Everyone is uniquely gifted. If you don’t know, you don’t know oo, my brother.

That was the second experience after I had given my sister’s husband the hair cut of his life! He had a malnourished head that can neither be described as a motorway, asphalt nor an N1.

The patterns were similar to a savanna vegetation – hair here small, no hair there and it goes round and round. I didn’t know which part to cut first and which one to maintain. Very difficult to find X!

Columnist: Mawuli Zogbenu