Life in Katanga Republic/ Indy Hall
Katanga Republic is one of the two names by which UI’s Great Independence Hall is popularly known. The other is simply Indy Hall. Katanga is the former name of a region in Democratic Republic of Congo that is now called Shaba. Its chief city is Lubumbashi. UI’s Katanga Republic has four blocks, three of them for students from all levels and one exclusively for final year students. For me, living in Katanga Republic and being a Katangite are not the same in a way that is similar to everybody living in Nigeria (legally or illegally) not being Nigerians. Katanga Republic houses many people, a good number of whom are not born, initiated or baptised into the Commonwealth or Brotherhood of Katangites. Little wonder they sometimes behave in ways that easily point them out as non-initiates and exhibit fear that even the weakest of Katangites will never exhibit. These include people that situations forced out of their fatherland in Mellanby Hall, Tedder Hall, Kuti Hall, and Bello Hall and also the people from our sister republic who pride themselves as Zikites. Accommodating these troubled brothers is part of the brotherhood and also the true meaning of being our brothers’ keeper. Being a Katangite and living in Katanga Republic is filled with a lot of exciting memories. The lessons you take away from them are what make the experiences worthwhile.
Being a Katangite means a lot of things, the fundamental of which is standing with and having one other’s back. One of the tenets is that no Katangite should rat out another Katangite in a situation that could bring punishment to the person being ratted out. Katangites should be ready to keep one another’s secret and not be Judas was to Jesus. This translates to unity. The decision of the Republic is binding on every Katangite, home and abroad. Unfortunately, little has been done in recent times to make Katangites see the need to buy the unity of al in words and in deeds mantra because those that pride themselves as stakeholders and decision makers are not the brightest minds and are often not united among themselves. We can only pray the unity that sustained the Brotherhood of Katangites, the unity that rides on the boldness and the assurance that you are never alone, would not fizzle out in years to come.
The new initiates into the Brotherhood have their ears filled with beliefs such as “the university is your home and the lecturers are your parents here.” I am not saying that is bad. But in this part of the world, telling one’s parents they are wrong on certain issues comes with consequences that are oftentimes not commensurate with the level of meaning contained in the words used in the rebuke. And when fear begins to creep in, unity in the Brotherhood stands threatened from initiates whose minds are not strong to stand against their landlords when need be for fear of losing their rented space and even more.
One of the treaties one signed upon initiation, albeit unconsciously, is that sometimes your personal belongings are no longer personal the moment you settle down as a resident. This means you signed that you won’t get angry every time your personal space is invaded and the sanctity of some of your personal properties violated. For example, it is expected that you maintain a cool demeanour if after a long day you come to the room and find your roommate’s friend sleeping on your bed. It also include that you are no longer the sole user of your slippers, shoes, buckets and sometimes spoons and pots. Even your foodstuffs are not safe in a room where the occupants are mean. This basically means that once you say you are a Katangite, you have indirectly lost he right to claim a personal property because to many, it is awkward rebuking a roommate for using your hair cream or taking a small portion of your garri. Once you are in the Republic, your privacy is the least of things that could be guaranteed.
Living in the same hall with hundreds of others opens your eyes to some of life realities including the fact of the inequality in human status. It is true that all Katangites are equal. Yet, some are more equal than the others. When you think you are the worst hit by the economic woes in the country, you will hear tales of some brothers feeding on only garri for a week and it never showed on their countenances. You will find that what you have difficulty doing is the least of some other person’s problem. In Katanga Republic, you find people from different tribes with different names having distinct characteristics and different worldview. You meet people who have a troubled background, meet those you are better than and those that are better than you. Far above the aro that the Republic is known for, many lessons could be learnt too as many people in the Republic always prompt you to be a better version of yourself in every way. I guess that is why we often say in the Republic that living in Katanga Republic cannot be the same as living everywhere else on the campus. As we say in one of our popular mantra, I will never regret being a Katangite.
If there is any regret I have, it would be in the area of romance. I could say that growing up in the midst of men, young and old, reasonable and unreasonable, and perhaps my inability to connect with people on a deeper are part of what affected my resolve to stay off ladies and their complicated lives. For a fact, I am not ready to cope with those complications. When a lady says no, she means maybe. When she says maybe, she means yes. When she says yes, well, she is not a lady. Some will even say women are generally frustrating and the ones you love even more frustrating. Perhaps some of us are not gifted in understanding them no matter how hard we tried or perhaps some of us aren’t meant for some of these things such as a lady and a guy being in a relationship. But no matter where one finds himself, you still have them to deal with. Little wonder someone thought deep and called them necessary evil. And one could say that a man’s life might be incomplete without a lady to call his own.
Being a UIte comes with a lot of exposure. I dare say here that many of the people you meet here are some of the nation’s brightest minds. Yet, we take them for granted because we don’t have the privilege of paying to listen to them. If you come to University of Ibadan and leave the same way, that is not picking a lesson or two out of your time, you are not worthy of being associated with the great citadel of learning. The assertion that UI is the first and the best holds true at all times. If you are reading this and you are not a UIte, my advice is you should consider coming around to validate your degree.
To all the wonderful people that contributed positively to my life in the last four years, I say a big thank you to you all. I will refrain from mentioning names so that I will not be accused of leaving out anybody. I pray we meet again in the future so we can relish some of the memories.