From Awolowo Hall to Agbowo Hall: The Struggle for Shelter

There I stood, raindrops pelting my skin like tiny, relentless fists. The downpour was unyielding as if the heavens themselves had conspired against me. My clothes clung to my body, a second skin of damp misery. And in that moment, Obafemi Awolowo Hall— the grand edifice that had cradled my hopes and dreams, betrayed me. “There’s no more space,” they said, a kind eviction statement worldwide. But to me, it felt like a brutal expulsion from my academic sanctuary. The hall that had witnessed my late-night study sessions, my laughter, and my quiet moments of reflection now spat me out, an unwanted morsel.

I had thought Awo was big, majestic even. I mean, the largest female Hall in West Africa or so they say. But as I stood there, drenched and disheartened, it seemed smaller, more callous. The clock mocked me: 5:40 PM on a Friday evening, and I was homeless. The rain intensified as if nature itself wept for my plight. Ghana-must-go bag in one hand, a battered and “pregnant” backpack on my shoulders, and Bagco sack in the other hand, I trudged down the deserted road. The newer private hostel buildings loomed ahead: Talent Hostel, with its deceptive promise of refuge, and the Iyalode megastructure, a beacon of modernity. But they were no different, their walls held secrets too, the whispers of students who had fought similar battles for a place to lay their weary heads. “At least they don’t have to go through this,” I muttered bitterly. Freshmen and finalists, the privileged ones, had secured their spots in the less comfortable school halls. But for us, the staylites caught in the middle, it was a perpetual struggle. The labyrinthine process of securing a room was a cruel game, and I was losing.

Desperation drove me to call my so-called friends. Their responses were a symphony of rejection. Some feigned ignorance, others offered vague apologies. But I could almost hear their doors slamming shut, locking me out. I was a beggar, pleading for shelter, and they were the gatekeepers of warmth and dryness. Yet, I empathised with some of them. 

The rain ceased to matter. My clothes would be soaked, probably swimming in my box already, and my food supplies already ruined. I glanced back at the distant Obafemi Awolowo Hall a few hundred meters away. I had thought I was walking fast enough, but the weight of rain, my bags and disappointment slowed my steps. I pondered: “Will I remain an outcast, a nomad in my university, a student without a home?”

As the rain subsided, I trudged forward, seeking answers in the uncertain haze of the future. Currently, the road stretched endlessly, and the halls remained silent. But perhaps, just perhaps, there’s a room waiting— one with my name inscribed in gold. Or perhaps not. The rain had blurred the edges of reality, turning the world into a watercolour painting. I stood there, my clothes still clinging to my skin, my bags dripping like leaky faucets. Obafemi Awolowo Hall loomed behind me, its once-grand facade now a cold shoulder. “Those wicked porters just sent me away in the rain like that as if I were a pest to be eradicated.”

And then he appeared, a lone cabman, trudging through the rain. His face was etched with the lines of countless journeys, each one a story untold. His eyes met mine, and in that moment, I saw recognition— the shared plight of those abandoned by shelter. “Where to?” His voice was gruff but there was kindness in his eyes. I hesitated, then climbed into the cab, my bags dripping into the rickety backseat. It smelled of dampness and old memories. I muttered a sorry under my breath, a thank you louder, as if gratitude could fill the gaps in my pockets. “Why are you with luggage, didn’t they give you a room?” he asked, glancing at my soaked bags. I shook my head, and he grunted, the sound holding both sympathy and resignation. “Awo,” he muttered. “Proud walls, fickle hearts,” or so he said, in Yoruba.

We wound through familiar streets I used to stroll, each turn taking me farther from the known. Idia’s signs flickered like distant stars, promising warmth and shelter. But I was an outsider now, a wanderer in my own city.


“Here,” the cabman said abruptly, jolting me from my thoughts, pulling up by the University gate. “Find somewhere to stay tonight.” I stumbled out; legs unsteady. The rain had ceased, leaving behind a world washed clean. As the cabman’s eyes met mine, a silent understanding passed between us. He didn’t ask for payment, he knew some debts could never be repaid.

And so I stood outside the cab with my bags, staring at the door. What lay beyond, another rejection? As the cabman drove away, I whispered my gratitude to the petrichor. The gate environment was deserted, and only a few people coming out after the rain could be seen walking around— at least they knew where they were headed.

It was 7 PM. I wandered out the gate and across the road into the busy and overwhelming labyrinth, the one they called Agbowo.

Melody Olajide


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6 thoughts on “From Awolowo Hall to Agbowo Hall: The Struggle for Shelter”

  1. This is a very wonderful write up.. I need to meet the writer..Melody, you hold powers in your hands

  2. What did I just read?!
    It was as if I was in the story myself!
    I was immediately searching for the comments button!
    The ending? Sleek😭

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