This I Believe

Mohamed - Banjul, Gambia
Entered on March 30, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
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It was common practice in the school.

Some of the teachers were supplementing their income by doing part-time teaching in nearby schools.

I was feeling the pain of working for a miserly salary.

And so I followed suit in order to bail myself from the shame of being unableto cater to the needs of my family.

So, I took on part-time teaching in-between my periods and after school, at a nearby school- a few metres away.

Perhaps, it was because I did not know how to work the system or, to put it more bluntly ,I did not grease the palm of the Principal that made me an unfortunate victim.

The principal gave me two warning letters to desist from my illegal activities but I did not take it seriously other teachers were doing what he said I was doing wrong without any reprimand.

He was determined to teach me a hard lesson.

He sacked me in December 2002 and withheld my salary for that month.

I tried to reason with him but he was resolute.

Quietly, I vacated his office to face a future without my usual mothly salary which when it was available could not take me half way through the month.

And now I was condemned to subsist without a penny!

When I passed the news to my wife, she was speechless. The shock was visible.But she had ideas.

She frequented the homes of relatives in the town to fetch a living for our family of four.

And the school where I went for the kangaroo teaching was supportive too. It took me on board full-time. However, the salary was not immediate. I had to anchor till the end of the month.

I trekked to school daily on an empty stomach.

My enthusiasm was not evaporated by the experience.I resolved to continue to work as usual with the firm belief that somebody somewhere will one day reward me for my industry.

I was punctual and regular as always.

Soon, I gained the attention of the Principal and the proprietors of the school.

Advertisements for the positions of Principal and Vice Principal were floated in the papers.

I applied.

I was interviewed.

Iwas told I excelled.

And I was catapulted to the post of Acting Principal of not only the senior school where I was teaching but the other two schools under their management- the juniour school and the madrasat.

That happened in July 2003.

The development was too sudden to be true.

But that was how I was stampeded into administration at the age of 37.I put every atom of my energy and every bit of my wisdom to please my grey-beard employers.

I spent days preparing time-tables for the schools and writing minutes of our fortnightly management committee meetings.

The students were happy about the change and everybody( except my detractors) felt that the schools were on the right track.

I motivated students and even chased them right into their classrooms to ensure they were to learn.

I reprimanded teachers for laziness and argued their case for increased salary before management. And this was achieved.

But my employers had other thoughts.

Rather than promote me for my hardwork which was acknowledged by all,I was superceded by a Principal and I was made substantive Vice Principal.Really, this was elevation though it was short of what I had expected!

But they say half a loaf is better than nothing.

I redoubled my effort.

The irregularity of the Bursar as well as the Principal converted me for better or for worse into an accountant receiving moniies from parents and students on their behalf. I had it but was compelled to do it to avoid accusations of inefficiency which would have blemised all of us.

Receipts that surfaced at the Principal’s office exposed my action.

I met the Principal and explained the reason for my action. I was collecting the partial payments from indigent parents moost failed to come back to complete the payment.

The Proprietors and managers turned up in the school one morning to raise the matter.


They accused me of breaching established procedure.

I pleaded with the the grey-beards but they were uncharitable.

I must pay back the 26,000 dalasis immediately or risk the sack.

They withhold my salary for that May month in 2005 and sacked me despite my pleas for mer cy.

I was frog-marched to the police and detained until I was bailed by a student I had taught in the first school I worked in this country.

Later the ex-students in that school congregated, raised the money and paid it on my behalf before I regained my freedom.