Recently, the issue of bullying in schools has featured prominently in mainstream media. My experience might not be unique but I am certain that sharing my story will prompt parents to take a hands-on approach in monitoring the safety of their children.
After successful completion of my primary education, I was thrilled about the prospect of joining a “prestigious” school.
For clarity, there was nothing prestigious about the institution. On the eve of joining the school, my late father told me about the conquests of the principal, who had an impeccable CV in matters education.
As a result, I was elated about the idea of being a student at the school and I could not wait to get started.
I never anticipated that my happiness would be short-lived and my enthusiasm would turn to mystery.
On the fateful day of my ordeal, it was past 10:30 pm and I was about to sleep after coming from the routine evening preps.
I was in form three and where I slept I shared a little compartment with three other students, including a form four student.
Due to the ‘extra freedom’ that final-year students enjoyed, my fourth year neighbor had a small radio which he usually hid under his mattress.
During this night, I never knew that somebody had swapped the radio and it was beneath my mattress.
I remember being woken by a group of three prefects and the radio was plucked from my bedding. Even though I was innocent, all the odds were stuck against me.
The prefects ordered me to follow them to a cubicle. The senior dining prefect ordered me to kneel down and he immediately accused me of being rude and disrespectful.
Personally, I disliked the dining guy and on this particular instance I shouted back, “kwani nimedo?”
Before finishing my statement, the guy hit me on my face with a meter-long ruler, the one made of timber.
I simply could not take it and anger got the best of me. I jumped to my feet and got hold of his shirt by the neck. I could not comprehend why a fellow student could hit me so mercilessly.
Even though the whole episode must have caught the other prefects by surprise, the way they responded confirmed to me that everything about my beating was prearranged.
I became a victim of mob justice and close to 10 prefects hit me anywhere they pleased.
Blows, slaps, and all sorts of foot kicks landed on me from all corners. Amidst all the physical violence that was meted on me, I remember the guy whose slaps landed perfectly on top of one of my ears.
I lost balance and I went into an infinite trance. I hovered between consciousness and nothingness.
I kept hearing an endless piercing sound similar to banging metals.
Following the long night of outlandish hammering, I could not attend morning preps that usually began at 4:50 am.
As I prepared for morning classes, I was prompted to massage one of my ears. As I drew out my finger, I noticed it had stains of blood.
Here I was almost 200km away from my rural home, facing the real danger of losing my hearing.
Long story short, I sort medical attention outside the school and although I still experienced hearing problems, I got better with time.
The perpetrators of this atrocious act were never punished by the school. Instead, they were encouraged to do so even more.
I remember, every Sunday after holding the school’s church sessions, the principal would assemble all prefects to motivate them how to perform their noble duties.
The sole purpose of those meetings was to ensure that they were effective in instilling discipline at any expense, including using physical violence.