I was about 9 when my family was visited by armed robbers. I am going to leave a lot of details out, which is unlike me, but some memories never completely fade. The day after was one of the unhappiest and scariest days of my life, naturally, I suppose.
I didn’t want to go to school, but my parents wanted me and my siblings out of the house, not just because there was too much going on in the neighbourhood, but because only sickness and death could save you from not going to school in my home. Even if someone was fatally ill or they died the day before, as long as it wasn’t you, you were expected to be in school the next day, no compromise.
I remember that I was matching back to my class that morning- the morning after the attack- singing “WE ARE H-A-P-P-Y” back to class, on top of my lungs.
“We are h-a-p-p-y,
we are h-a-p-p-y,
we know we are,
we are SURE we are [sure? wtf?],
we are h-a-p-p-y,
I wasn’t singing it on top of my lungs because I was excited, I was, because I was extremely livid- angry about many things. I wasn’t happy, I didn’t know if the person in front of me or behind me, all of us in matching uniforms, tiny, little juveniles, were happy, but I had to sing it anyway, to avoid being picked on or flogged.
I’m going to leave the name of the school that I was attending at that time out. The whole system itself is messed up; it’s not about one school.
Why would you flog a child for wearing old socks, or pick on a child for not bringing food during the end-of-the-year party? You don’t know the condition that the child is living in, you don’t know the trauma that the child is going through, you don’t know anything. Flogging a child because their school fee has not been paid is even the most fucked-up of all.
Now that you have flogged me- 15 strokes, have I vomited the 15 000 naira for the term? Ehn? You have not only completely embarrassed and abused me, you have injured my self-esteem a little, or a lot.
I’ll stop here. I cry “ugly”, and I don’t want to shed tears where I am. I just STILL feel sorry for many of the children that I met when I was their age, and the millions that I didn’t get to meet.
As far as education is concerned in Nigeria, many things have to be corrected. Many things.