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Summary of The Life Changer by Khadija Abubakar Jalli

The Life Changer is a recommended book for the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board Examination, especially for the 2022 and 2025 exams.


Summary of The Life Changer by Khadija Abubakar Jalli

The Life Changer is a novel by a Nigerian playwright, Khadija Abubakar Jalli. The Life Changer is a good read for everyone, because every chapter contains life-changing lessons, especially for young people hoping to further their education. The Life Changer has its setting in the University environment, so everything you’re likely to encounter as a student on campus is revealed beforehand.

The narrator tells the story of a family of five, Bint, Teemah, Omar, and Jamila. Omar, who is 18, is the eldest, while the narrator tells the story through Ummi’s voice.

The family awaits the arrival of their father, who usually comes back from work at 5 PM. As they fix their eyes on the gate, 5-year-old Bint entertains her siblings with a story of her Social Studies teacher, Mallam Salihu, christened “Mr. Know all” by his pupils for always derailing from the subject matter to another one. 

She tells them how she indirectly mocks the man after he asks them what “au revoir” means in French, and none of the pupils was able to explain except her. She, in return, asks the teacher a question he couldn’t answer, prompting the pupils to laugh at him uncontrollably. Salihu had to call the senior French teacher to help him answer the question.

Ummi overhears the discussion and comes in to interrupt and caution her daughter over her disrespectful attitude to her teacher. She advised Bint not to ask her teacher any question the teacher would struggle to answer. Bint blamed Salihu for her action as he always claimed to know every subject. Besides, he asked them questions about things unrelated to Social Studies that he teaches.

As their discussion rages on, Omar announces his admission into the Bongo Camus of Ahmed Bello University. Omar boasted of breaking the barrier after starving himself of sleep to read. He came into the room wearing a white top and black trousers, a Nigerian dress code for law students.

Ummi was thrilled by her son’s achievement, remembering Omar’s father wanted to study law, but ended up studying Accountancy. Omar continued talking about his exam experiences and requested that no one tell his father about his admission except himself. He saw the admission as an opportunity to have a smartphone since no one in the family was allowed to use one. Omar is the oldest male in the family of five children.

Out of excitement, Omar told his other siblings, Teemah and Jamila, to call him “learned brother” – something his mother sees as arrogance, so she intervenes. Ummi begins to tell her children about how admission changed her life. The title of the novel – “The Life Changer” is lifted from this scenario.

She told them how life was on campus 20 years ago when she got admission to a university. She married before starting. Ummi told them how possible she found it to distinguish between students and lecturers as everyone dressed in muftis. Ladies wore revealing dresses, and some faculties were required to wear uniforms or dress codes.

She told them about one pompous lady, Salma, whom she got admission with at the same time. During the time for clearance, she came 15 minutes late, being the last person in the long queue. She was uncomfortable and engaged in a discussion with a young man standing by. She boasted about how she could bypass every stressful process by bribing the lecturers with just ₦3,000 and equated the police and lecturers as the easiest people to bribe in Nigeria.

She said this to the man without ever knowing the man was a lecturer.

Salma was strict and never tolerated nonsense from anyone. On one account, she went to a lecturer’s office to get her papers signed. The lecturer, Debo, wooed her, breaking his every moral. Dr.Debo was a man of good reputation, but the radiating beauty of Salma made him lose his sense of morality. Salma couldn’t condone his actions and insulted him. Debo regretted his action and wished to be penalized.

Unlike some unserious students, Salma scaled to final year but struggled with a course, Moral Philosophy. She studied the subject and past questions, but in the buzzing exam hall, she was unable to answer the exam questions. So she resorted to doing exam malpractice and got caught in the act. She was compelled to fill exam malpractice form, which she declined, and was dragged to the HOD’s office.

Salma knew the consequences of her action were expulsion, so to avoid facing such, she met Habib, a politician, to help her resolve the case with his Political influence. Habib agrees to lend her a helping hand but needed to get Dr. Debo into the case. Salma disagreed with his offer to drag Debo into the scenario and offered him a bribe instead.

Salma had to bribe the Exam and Ethics Committee but unfortunately paid the money to the wrong person, Dr. Kabir, who was just a laboratory technician. The title “Dr” before his name was given to him way back in his secondary days. Dr. Kabir posed as the chairman of the EME to obtain the bribe from Salma.

When Salma was taken to the Senate for interrogation and judgment, she couldn’t spot Kabir in the committee. So she was disappointed. While being interrogated, she mistakenly mentioned the Kola who passed the piece of paper containing an answer to her.

Both Kola and Salma were suspended from school.

Ummi told her children how Salma became her friend after Salma’s father and mother died, making her turn a new leaf.

Read Also:

Summary of Cry The Beloved Country

Summary of The Lion and The Jewel by Wole Soyinka

Summary of The Famished Road by Ben Okri

The protagonist of The Life Changer by Khadija Abubakar Jalli is Salma. Although the writer used Ummi to tell the story of Salma, Salma is still the protagonist of the novel.

Ummi Ahmed is the mother of five children. She is also a teacher who married Ahmed, a Banker before she got admission to the university.

Omar is the 18-year-old son of Ummi. He got an admission to study law at Ahmed Bello University, Zaria. He’s known to be neat and well-dressed in the novel.

Salma is the protagonist of The Life Changer. The narrator used Ummi to tell her experiences at the university. She became a good girl after the death of her parents.

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