by Bolade Ogunfuye
During my secondary school years, I was what you could call a “closet rebel”. I considered myself an icon for the anti-establishment, I prided myself on being a misnomer, a non-conformist through and through. However, Nigerian boarding schools being what they were, one had to often tread with caution. Throughout the six years I spent in the school, I was often involved in one prank or the other, but either through luck, providence, timing or the benevolence of the patron saint of mischief, I rarely ever got caught.
You see, I learnt early on that the best pranks were privately planned, privately executed and privately enjoyed. I rarely ever took ownership for these pranks, and only allowed myself the rare smile of acknowledgement when these pranks were being discussed in class or the aftermath was being announced at school assembly. Even my closest friends, who must have noticed my occasional disappearances were none the wiser.
As graduation loomed, I felt I had to pull off my magnum opus to sign out of school, and from the first term of the final year, I began to plan the grand-daddy of mega pranks. Maybe, I mused, I might even claim ownership of this one (fat chance!).
First step was to gain the “keys to the city” as it were, a sometimes friend of mine who was the student council president at the time was lent the school master key for some official business. I promptly made a copy which then granted me unfettered access to many parts of the school which would have otherwise have been totally inaccessible.
We students had a noted dislike for a particular teacher who was also a high-ranking administrative official. For the purposes of this story, I shall refer to him as “Mr Ade”; he would be the prime victim of this elaborate prank which was to be my crowning achievement.
The essence of the plan was to patch a tape recorder into the PA system of the school and launch an audible volley at Mr Ade and the establishment. The tape recording consisted of increasingly loud excerpts of various anti law enforcement, anti-government and anti-establishment songs from artistes including Fela Kuti, Tupac and N.W.A., interspersed with chants of “Mr Ade!” over and over again. I planned to install the recorder in the ceiling of the Vice-principal’s next to a PA system speaker, this was a crucial detail making this all possible.
I modified the tape recorder by disconnecting the internal speaker and soldering leads from the audio output to extension wires. The PAUSE button was modified with a lever system tied to fishing wire, so I could trigger the recorder from below.
I practiced my operation in real life conditions in a rarely used classroom behind the auditorium stage, timing my ability to enter, get up into the ceiling, patch into the PA and exit cleanly, in the dark. I even logged the daily activities to determine the best ‘when’ to perform this operation.
Finally, the right Thursday came along, and I decided to execute that night after lights out. Working under lighting from a flashlight, I patched the recorder into the PA and installed into its designated spot, running the fishing wire down the wall to a study desk located under the speaker. As I was wrapping up, settling the ceiling tiles back in place, I heard loud voices. The school guards were coming around to inspect the area, I had to make an immediate exit, and even saw them chatting right down the hall from me as I silently sneaked past them.
I triggered the device the next afternoon during classes. As designed, the tape got going, and I sat there with glee as the entire school was stunned into silence, then gradually erupted into cacophony. It grew so disruptive that the principal called a meeting of his ‘small council’ including my ‘sometimes buddy’ the president, the Audio-Visual Tech, and the two vice-principals.
They met in his office as the cacophony was getting increasingly voluminous. My ‘buddy’ gave us the gist afterwards and told us of how they discussed the situation, and one vice-principal described a theory, which was pretty well exactly how this was actually deployed.
The principal, in his deep wisdom, dismissed this theory as too complex for high school students to implement. He ordered the Audio-Visual technician to take the PA system offline, he rushed to the master panel and unplugged it. This had the great effect of removing the main source of resistance in the system, and my recording suddenly came out much louder.
The entire student body was enjoying this as it ran, it was a 120min tape so it just continued playing for the remainder of the hour. No one was the wiser, they never did figure it out, as I subsequently observed that the fishing wire was still there so clearly, that tape recorder was never found. I believe it’s probably still there to this day.
Bolade is a writer and multi-media development professional. He began as a writer, and has since expanded his repertoire to include media content design and development, brand strategy, new media, advertising and PR with a career spanning the last decade. He is addicted to caffeine, sartorial excellence, sarcasm, true crime and media content of the highest quality; and is very fluent in double-speak.