I remember we schooled in a primary school where corporal punishment was discipline and not a violation of human rights. Times when kids belonged to the teacher and the goverment. You tell your parent-
“Aki mum leo nilichapwa shule..”
“Eeh wacha mwili ichapwe hio ni ya serikali.” (If your african mother has never told you this, does she even love you?) She responds.
Children were public property. Anyone could whoop your ass as they pleased. You go home crying to your mother and she asks,
“What did you do to be beaten?”
If you are a smart child you get beaten and shut up . If you dare speak out, you are whooped again by your parent.
Now kids are privately owned. You require a permit from the parent to lay a finger on a strand of their hair.
Schools have become a safe haven , a shrine where you can have a parent-child relationship with the teacher. Not long ago the relationship that existed between a teacher and a student was that of a criminal and ICC court.
“Eunice (superficial character) why did you not do the work?”
Its a rhetorical question . Only those with warrior chests can answer.
“Mwalimu, I was not- ”
“You was not what? Did I say you can answer back?”
Somewhere near the staffroom there is a tree. Its home to birds who are witnesses to the war thats happening on Eunice’s body. Loud continous screams follow there after. Birds flee from the tree. The sun disappears in fear. Total silence befalls the whole school. Young hearts pound in fear, one of thier own is suffering in the hands of the enemy.
Teachers were feared creatures. You would rather meet a hungry anaconda sleeping on your bed than meet a teacher. If you went to a boarding school then you must have attended church services with them . With all the nigerian movies I had watched I expected fire to burn the church doors before they walked in. After all, they attempted to take our lives every once in a while (through thorough whooping). They were grave sinners.
Sometimes I felt like the motivational speakers who came to inspire the hero in us were in it with the teachers. Their words of affirmation and inspiration seemed like they fueled the teachers to beat the criminal tendencies out of us.
Treason in school was noise making. This act alone could lead you to be branded all sort of names – empty debes, kayamba africa, master of ceremony. This was equivalent to public flogging. Terms such as phlegmatic, introvert , extrovert are modern personality terms. Otherwise an extrovert is just a fancy term for noisemaker.
School was sometimes contradictory to biblical teachings. The bible said that your body is the temple of God while school said your body belongs to the government. Other times when convinient it followed the bible to the letter especially the part about, spare the rod spoil the child. In our school the rod was never spared. Yet after all this beating I have learnt the best life lessons from an empty pocket and a broken heart.
I have heard things that shook me, information that created earth tremors . Information such as,” I bought my teacher a car.” I can only hope that one day I will be as forgiving and generous.