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Japa Syndrome

Why I Japa(ed) in 1992

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My annual (NOT monthly) salary as a Senior Lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University in 1992 (right before I left for the United States) was N9,600.

It’s not a typo. N9,600 only, for the entire year.

How does the university expect to keep the brightest and the best if you don’t pay them up to living wages?

Kí Olódùmarè má fi ebi òwúrọ̀ pa wá o. (May Olodumare not pepper us with hunger in the morning).

Torí òwúrọ̀ ni ó ń sọ bí alẹ́ ti má a rí. (The morning is a forecast of the evening weather).

Ojú tó fi òwúrọ̀ ṣepin, kì í bá ni dalẹ́. (The eye that produces putrid pus in the morning may not last till evening time).

₦9,600 in 1992 is like ₦9.6m now but it wasn’t enough to raise a family comfortably if you didn’t want to be eating beans most of the time.
From time to time, I could afford to eat oku eko a couple of times during the week.

But it wasn’t enough to eat beef on a regular basis. The chicken was out of range, except during Xmas.
I had a Volks Beetle that was battered. I used it from 1978 to 1992 when I decided to japa.
Fortunately the year I decided to japa, my art was selling very well, and I could make more from a single painting than my entire salary for the year.
But I was already tired and just wanted to get out.

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