By Kenn Shima Udele
In the year 1989, I joined St Andrew’s Secondary School Adikpo as mjuka (Sam Jaggers’ way of describing JSS1 students). Here was a school that could best be described as a torture camp. Torturing wasn’t the tradition of teachers but senior students.
The normal protocol to greet senior students was ‘Sir’. If a senior walked into the classroom, usually quietly, and you failed to rise immediately, you’re in trouble.
I was a day student. I declined to stay in the boarding house because as one who came from ‘Kar Abande’, the stories were not just good for me.
Something happened on a Thursday evening and the next day, it was a terrible day for me and two of my mates, Zwanyon Mbanyon and Boniface Ayongo (Boniface would die while we were in JSS3).
Evenings of Thursdays were reserved for labour and as JSS1 students, we were the first target. We knew it. By 4pm, we were all out for labour but the labour prefect, a very terrible human being, Bigg Joe, was no where to be found. Minutes later, a news came that labour was no longer holding. Jubilantly, we headed home.
Next morning, the Head Boy, Stuffy, walked into JSS1C class and called the three of us out. What was the offence? That as we were dispersing home the previous evening, he called on us to come back but we ignored him and pretended we didn’t hear him.
Beating began. Twelve strokes each at the buttocks. Zwanyon Mbanyon was the first, Boniface Ayongo was the second, I was the last. With my light and fragile skin, it couldn’t stand the tenth. The eleventh stroke actually opened deep wounds that splashed out blood, staining my white shirt and light blue short nicker. Droplets of blood that travelled the opposite direction also stained the Head Boy’s ever glittering long-sleeved white shirt. He had to stop.
I left the class angrily and went straight to the office of the Principal, Mr Shankyula, and presented myself. Zwanyon and Boniface joined me while I was making a strong case. I broke down in tears, uncontrollably.
Mr Shankyula sent for the Head Boy and right there in my presence, told him not to beat students like that again. Uwu! The principal gave us three Naira to go buy bottle Robb and use it on our badly wounded buttocks. As Zwanyon made to collect the money, I left, again, angrily. My action spoke clearly that I was dissatisfied and disappointed.
I stepped on the corridor outside the principal’s office where some seniors approached me and enquired about my parents. I told them my parents are not anywhere around Adikpo and my uncle is far away in Makurdi. They truly sympathized with me and assured me of some protection henceforth.
The three of us went back to the class but unfortunately, none of us could sit down. The wounds, the stiffness of the skin around the buttocks, the hardness.
Next Monday, I came to school with the blood stained white shirt and short nicker. I didn’t wash it during the weekend. I was protesting. That singular act attracted high attention and more sympathy. It also paved way for my momentary freedom.