You were a student in Bayero University Kano (BUK) in the late 1970s. There was only one hall that had a name called Nana Hall. The rest were given letters such J Block, K Block, M Block, etc. Nana hall was the female hotel, but it was not always where it has been now. It used to be in M Block, that is why of all the various Blocks in the campus, it was the only one with a wall (don’t ask me why).
What used to be Nana now was the first Student Hotel built years earlier when BUK was Ado Bayero College of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. That is why the hall is an exact replica of Akenzua all in ABU.
Until it was converted into a female hotel, it used to accommodate final year undergraduate students at the university. By 1979, either the number of final students outfitted the available bed spaces, or the number of female students become too large for the available bed spaces in M black a change was made. The old final year student’s hotel became Nana Hall and M Block, the former female hotel became available for male students.
As a consequence, Nana Hall saw restructuring, not ala the current political debate int the country. Nana hall’s restructuring was the building of an additional wall around it. It already had a wall. The space between the inner and outer walls became some free area for the female students. No male student was allowed to go into the hostel.
So imagine you wanting to see a friend, or more commonly, a course mate or even a female relative residing in Nana Hall. It was off lecture and emergency had cropped up. In those days to call a female colleague in the hotel you walk to the gate of the hotel from wherever you were. At the entrance there is a porter space and security post, the point of no entry for all males, including medical doctors. A security personnel and messenger are always at the gate. You arrive and request for the call register. You fill in the details: your name, name of the person you want to see, her room and you sign the Messager takes your detail and off she goes into the hotel, living to find where to hang and kill the time while waiting for her to return. You have no telling if she will also actually deliver your message until she is back. meanwhile inside, the messenger goes to the room indicated. If you are lucky she is in the room, she gets the message immediately and come and meet outside of the hotel.
If you are unlucky that she is visiting her a colleague in a number room, and her roommate or mates do not, the messenger returns and tells you that she is not around. You wait and wait unit it is time for the Messenger to end her shift and goes home to be replaced by another. You go over to the new messenger and give the same information. There goes the new Messager and if you are lucky this time, your message gets delivered and you start hating the first Messager for lying to you. This by the way might have made you to spent two precious hours, even if the only message to deliver is a grocery from home for the student.
There may be occasions in which more than party could require to see a particular student, unknown to each of them and to the student herself, and since the Messenger behaves in a LIFO (first in first out) mode, they treat the first request and when the girl comes out and there are two or three parties waiting, she gets confused and even more confused are the visitors, especially if some of them are not mere course mate.
Image yourself now a student. The probability is that you have a handset. So will all the inmates of Nana Hall have handsets. You have no need to go to no need to and sign a register to book an appointment to see your colleague, sister, or friend outside the lecture halls, all you need to do is to phone her or send a text message or even a WhatsApp message. You could even arrange a zoom meeting while she is still in her room and visitors can see without entering the inside of Hana Hall!
What does this mean? It means that technology has restructured a number of things that we do. It has improved efficiency We do not have to visit the hotel to give a number. There is no big deal for arranging medical evacuation from Nana Hall. The loss of privacy and depositing of meta data about visitors is removed. But so also does the massagers who carry out the errands have lost their jobs! And more, Nana Hall and other similar halls of residence of female students such as the Amina Hall in ABU, have lost an aura that made them a fascination for many students and even nonstudents.
Next time you think about technology, not just thing of the grand transformation it is done or is doing to us and society but also the inconsequent ones that we hardly notice!
Engr. Y. Z Ya’u is the Executive Director Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD)