• Ekanem Ibokessien

Celebrating Christmas at Home, Ritman Style

A splendid blend of colours: red, white and green, grinning from ear to ear with Yuletide lights of same hue, intermingled with awesome melodies and gorgeous attire on this night to remember.

The atmosphere was homely, colourful, convivial – the stuff of which El Dorado is made. The people were congenial, pleasant, accommodating – the very aura that makes it worthwhile to be at Mama’s.

If ever your teacher demanded a definition for “home away from home”, you needed not to rack that brain of yours, for Ritman makes it so real, as she did in her maiden Carol Night on 17th December, 2015.

“Ritman University is home away from home. It has developed me socially, physically and mentally. Learning has been made easy, thanks to our lecturers. It’s a school of first choice”. That was George Obot, a 100 level student of Economics, speaking on behalf of his fellow students.

What is it that makes home home? Love, affirmation, acceptance; provision for your physical, intellectual and emotional needs: Ritman offers even more, going by testimonies of managers, faculty and students.

Here’s how the Board of Trustees Chairman, Senator Emmanuel Ibok Essien, rhapsodized his affection on that colourful night.

“My beloved and most cherished students of Ritman University. My beloved students of Ritman College… just as the child in Elizabeth’s womb leapt at the coming of Mary, my heart leaps for joy to celebrate with you in this maiden Carol Night of our great university.”

That was after the elated students had rendered a medley of heart-warming Christmas compositions traditional and modern. Warm cheers of approval from the University community, and a standing ovation by staff that greeted their rendition gave a glimpse of what family should look like.

More songs flowed. There was a student trio that lifted up their voice to the awesome God and co-compere Imefon Udom who thrilled her audience with mellifluous melody.

At home, meal times are great times. It gets greater when fun in the mix. We saw students displaying their dexterity in the art of eating. Jeremiah Osakpolor a.k.a Osaz carried the day, finishing the entire course in no time. Osaz added a comical dimension to the eating competition by licking up plate, table, everywhere that any traces of his fried rice could be found, as if bent on over-winning the contest. Christ, what a meal!

Pearl Abasita gave good account of her table skills, but ladies are not known to outdo men when it comes to forks and knives. The other two contestants were in no hurry. They took their time; after all, nursery school teachers are right when they say that eating gently is good table manners.

Drinking competition was next, and it was no contest for Dennis Dennis who outdrank everyone else. The gulp of Pepsi from his double straw went as fast as pouring liquid out of a bucket.

All competitors got shiny gifts for their efforts.

Ritman’s Christmas baby – Menyene Silas – was celebrated. Her party had all the elements of a birthday celebrated at home. She cut her cake, made for her by the school and designed in Christmas colours. Daddies and mummies – Vice Chancellor, Registrar et al joined in cake-cutting and of course, her siblings – Ritman siblings – were there to assist her.

Menyene was called upon to give her birthday speech, and in the opinion of a guest observer, she flunked it. But her Ritman family didn’t say that, they cheered and applauded her on. Affirmation is what you get in a family.

Dr Joseph Udondata in his speech captured it thus: “Ritman is a family. You’ve left your nuclear family and here you are in a family. Your staff, from VC to the most junior, are your uncles and aunties. He saw in RU students a lot of talent, courage, determination, ability to work and prayed God help them excel in Jesus’ name. Families pray for the success of family members.

At Christmas, families have gifts for the kids. RU students all received special Christmas presents from the institution’s management.

When a family has met all its obligations to the children, the young ones go all out to excel. George Obot knows that, so he and his friends promised a future when Ritman students would compete and win laurels nationally and internationally.

Before ending his speech, and as if mesmerized by the buzz from Government House, George urged his peers and teachers to rise to a state of Greatness, and the audience was quick to echo the ubiquitous slogan: Dakkada!

Obot thanked the BOT Chairman and “our mother in the house, Mrs Rita Umoh (Director, Student Life)”. Told you! Every family has a mother.

Edidiong Esara

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