It seemed like a laughing matter. Crowded around a laptop checking what they believed was their fate, the repeated guffaws betrayed the seriousness of the moment. If this was really what was going to determine the course of their lives over the next few years, why then were they cracking their ribs over it?
It was that time of the year when fathers milked old favors from friends in top positions for their sons. Mothers prayed for their daughters to get bank teller positions and put up a façade of being successful. The National Service postings had been released and Twitter was in a frenzy. For days, #NSSPosting trended and the funny memes were everywhere. From the crying Jordan to the overplayed Lil Win I can’t think far video, people celebrated their supposed successes and failures.
The friends huddled together were having different experiences. Some blessed their stars for placements in places like the National Petroleum Agency and Ghana Cocoa Board. These were highly coveted places people will kill for. With one foot in the door, all what they had to do to secure their spots beyond one year of supposedly serving their nations was to break their backs, run like hares on Waakye errands and make photocopies whenever they were asked to do so without even asking.
For the unfortunate ones, four years studying Economics under the arduous structure of the University of Ghana was not enough to save them from directing traffic in faraway Kumasi. For others, it seemed their proficiency in French was not going to mean a thing at the Ghana Meteorological Service.
A couple of months back, all of the friends now gathered behind the laptop had been busy trying to ensure a healthy posting. They had not been lucky enough with the lottery of birth so their best bet in life was to get something good guaranteed as soon as possible. They submitted CVs to as many offices as possible. The interviews were countless and so were the “you will hear from us soon”. It was a tedious process but you could not help but just go through the motions for as long as you had not heard a positive feedback.
The lucky ones felt divinely blessed but that did not prevent them from rubbing it in the faces of their friends. It was all friendly drubbing, nothing personal. But to the unlucky ones, it hurt a tad more than it looked on the perfunctory. While their colleagues could wear a suit and tie and Snapchat their “workflow”, they could only whisper their stories to friends and families. What was there to flaunt about teaching a school under tree in Bunkpurguyooyoo?
But did their earlier scavenging for a workplace in Accra betray the purpose of the National Service? Was their lining up at the national headquarters of the secretariat for reposting indicative of a lack of patriotism? Who did they expect to take up the teaching of understaffed schools up north? The country had contributed immensely towards their undergraduate studies. It was certainly time to pay back.
At the heart of the goals of the scheme was a desire to imbibe into fresh graduate, a sense of selfless service. That was only going to be achieved if postings were accepted regardless. But in as much as these students owed a debt to the nation, of what value was their education if they were going to spend a year dabbling in things which had no utility to their persons.
Would the country come to a standstill if the overstaffed district assemblies did not have personnel repeatedly posted to their offices to just spend time reading stories and trying to figure out the password of the locked Wi-Fi?