I write this with mixed feelings.
Feelings of joy, knowing that after all, I came out of that horrible life, but bitter knowing that it is happening to others, mostly young boys out there.
Now that the story of bullying in secondary schools has come out, let me just share a tip of my life while I was in Form 1 some years back.
On the day of admission, I was escorted by my mother to what was to be my home for four years and where I believed that my dream to become a journalist would be nurtured.
Outside the admission block, there was a seat for parents – and a few metres from there was a pavement headed to the dormitory and the dining hall.
So, senior students would pass there giving us that wild gaze as if cautioning us of what would befall us.
Nothing much happened from the day of admission till the weekends and more so on Saturday night, when terror would rain on us specifically during the entertainment session.
First, only form 3’s and 4’s would dance at the entertainment stage while the rest of us would watch at a distance or watch movies or TV programmes, which was okay with us.
Behind the scenes, Form 2’s who were now ready to ‘graduate’ to the club of big men would engage in running battles with the rest, at least for them to be allowed to show their dancing moves at the entertainment stage.
It sounds petty. Right?
But that is a life of a student away from books. After all, work without play makes Jack a dull boy.
Meanwhile, the bullies would pick us one by one and take us to the dormitory.
What happens there was total thievery.
We would be asked to open our boxes for them to sample what they want…it was worse during opening days when they would steal even our chapatis. Shame.
It is on a Saturday that you would also be forced to buy bread for the bullies.
I specifically remember Ndugi, Kwamwangi, Police, Blackie and other bullies who made my Form 1 life hell on earth.
They used to demand money from me, and I would share the little pocket money, my parents would give me.
Sometime, those gluttonous bullies would take everything including my transport money.
At times, my classmates and I would leave class at around 1 am because the dormitories were on ‘fire’. People would be beaten, asked to entertain the bullies with a song of their choice, asked to call for help using one of their smelly shoe – smelling like raw sewer – as a phone…it happened.
When they discovered our survival tactics, they would drag us out of those classes for a torture session.
We opted to hide in the dark, mostly at the playing field.
Don’t ask why we didn’t report to the discipline master or even teachers.
Being a Form 1 and never exposed to such human cruelty, we were warned against even thinking of reporting such cases to the teachers.
A form 1, like I was, who only knew of his mother’s love and knew his father was there to protect him from anyone, would be brainwashed to believe the narrative of the terrorists (those who used to bully us).
Those who broke the orders were profiled and treated as outcasts. They suffered even more.
I really wanted to move to another school but my parents asked me to be a man despite my tales of suffering.
The worst experience was during my last term as a mono.
Our seniors raided our dormitories at night, apparently, it was a norm, armed with crude weapons.
We were beaten thoroughly.
That, according to them was a graduation ceremony to maturity.
I forgave my tormentors but my heart pains for my brothers who opted to quit school despite the future holding so much hope for them.
But I celebrate our class since when it was our time to become ‘seniors’ we abolished the archaic behaviour, formed family units and became brothers instead of bullies.
My appeal to parents; please listen to your children.
Expose the bullies.
(The writer reports on security and human rights issues at Capital FM)