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COVID-6 points: who is marking Grade 12 exams?

[By Michael B Munyimba]

I met Kaduku yesterday, the Grade 12 school-leaver and son of my good pal Joe, that I have always suspected to be a loony.

I was just about to attack my sumptuous nshima and chicken meal I had ordered at some shabby restaurant in Soweto market when he bumped in and, without any invitation, threw himself on the chair opposite me. How I hate lwanda napa nshima ponse! Anyway, Kaduku was gleaning gleefully while holding some brown envelope in his hand. When I asked what was so amusing that his smile was ear- to -ear, he proudly whispered to my ear that he was from collecting his results and that he had gotten 6 points. 6 points, Kaduku?

For a moment, I forgot about the nshima waiting before me and grabbed the envelope from his hand and pulled out the sheets of paper inside. And with keen interest, I begun to go through them; and lo and behold, Kaduku had indeed gotten 6 points. I turned the paper to the back, suspecting foul play as I laboured to verify its authenticity. But all indications were pointing to the unbelievable fact that indeed this lunatic had acquired the highest ratings in marks on the land.

Of course, I was in a state of shock because I have known this boy from as far as he was a kadoli and his father and I know that it is impossible to equate him with such intelligence, it is impossible! But, well, people do change and the world is full of wonders. So, I decided to give him the benefit of doubt, but not before I tested him, just to confirm if indeed a miracle had occurred; a miracle that had instantly transformed this imbecile and beqeathed him with the highest order in academic excellence. This is because the Kaduku I have always known has been nothing but some sort of ‘Mongolian idiot’ who could not even afford to correctly spell the word “ME”

So, for starters, I decided to ask him what he intended to study. By now, we had both started attacking our nshima as we mumbled between swallows. Yes, I asked him what he wanted to study because obviously, with those grades, he was going to some university. “Well, as you can see, it seems I am good in practically everything, so I’m thinking I should go for Mass Copulation,” he retorted proudly. “What?” I paused a bit in my chewing, then shifted a bit as I threw him a dirty look. “You mean Mass Communication?” He waved his hand in my face and said it didn’t matter what it was called, but that whatever it was, it was what he was going to study anyway.

Ok, fine, I let that one go, perhaps it was just the chicken we were chewing that was so tasty that he might have gotten swayed by it, thus his stupid answer. I shifted my eyes to his results sheet sprawled on the small table, and seeing that he had a distinction in Religious Knowledge too, I asked him what his favourite story in the Bible was. To my dismay, he said there were actually a lot of stories he liked, but the one where Jesus single-handedly ate 5,000 loaves of bread and two fishes was his most loved story. He also mentioned one guy called Job, who he said swallowed a whale and later vomited it by the river bank after the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin bribed him with 30 pieces of silver to vomit it out. Suddenly, I was no longer hungry, I had lost my appetite; this Kaduku was obviously terminally ill.

“Kaduku”, I addressed him as I washed my hands, I needed to go away from this boy, this boy could infect me with rabies because no sane person could be yapping such trash, “Kaduku, you are so close to death, you are very sick. I recommend you urgently seek the services of a veterinary doctor because I think what you are suffering from is not human disease.”

But the boy ignored me and continued; he went on to talk about how one Lazarus in the Bible was so cruel that he killed Jesus “for four days”, after which he was ordered to resurrect the Son of Man by Mary Magdalene. Now this Kaduku was beginning to frighten me. “Kaduku, I think you have saliva in the brain,” I declared while slowly standing up. But I was still determined to find out just how this nincompoop came to get these high marks.

So, in my last attempt before I left, I decided to give him a shot at History and Geography, so I asked him who David Livingstone was. “Oh, you mean that boy”, he said, “He was the King of the Zulu kingdom in Mozambique in the late 90s who was accidentally hit by a train in South Africa….” That’s it, I was leaving, I was not going to hang around here and listen to the chatter of this boy.

And without warning, I started heading towards the door, but realised I had not yet paid for the food. So, I turned and approached the lady selling who had already started after me as she thought I was about to make a ‘hit and run’. Well, that’s what we call it when you eat first then mysteriously dash out before paying, but that wasn’t my intention. Just that this boy had fried my mind too much with his foolish talk I got confused and forgot to pay.

Anyway, I paid, and turned towards the door leaving him still ‘banging’ the food. Does this boy even know the president of this land, I thought. So, for the final time, I paused by the door and shouted, “Kaduku, who is our current President here in Zambia?” Kaduku stopped eating and, slowly turned to look at me with a quizzical eye, as if questioning whether I was normal or not, then he slowly said, “Uncle, how can I know that? The 2021 elections have just passed and the ballots are still being counted, we shall all know that perhaps end of March. But I think Kalusha will win!”

That’s how I stormed out of that restaurant, slamming the door behind me and vowed never to ever go there again. I didn’t want memories of Kaduku and his talk, compounded by his 6 points to haunt me forever. How can someone award 6 points to Kaduku? This was insane.

Unfortunately, that’s what is happening right now in Zambia, almost every imbecile gets 6 points. No one is failing any more, be it Grade 7, 9 or 12. Everywhere you go, every Grade 12 has very high grades. I’m not sure whether this is good or whether someone should check the whole Examinations Council of Zambia system. Something might be wrong somewhere.

In our time in the 80s and early 90s, the story of 6 points was almost taboo; you could even be forced to rewrite the exam, with the director of ECZ as your invigilator. University of Zambia was even accepting those with 24 points on bursary. This passing of these days is really beginning to be worrisome, especially when you meet university graduates who can’t spell their names. Something is wrong somewhere. ECZ, re-evaluate your system.

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