Education in Nigeria has changed. I’m not referring to the standard of education, as much as I am to what characterizes the educational system in Nigeria today. Sometimes I compare the state of the school system in my days with the days of those before me and that of those after me. And I wonder will those coming have any stories to tell?
I remember a day, a day so etched in my memory. I stood from my seat and walked boldly to the front of the class, all eyes – watching, staring at me, relentlessly. It was to be quite a moment for me, the moment when the small looking guy in class would steal the admiration of all the girls and the big bullies would come to respect him. No, I wasn’t walking up to the teacher to get a prize, in fact, I was walking up to the irked teacher to get thoroughly flogged for doing something everybody knew should never be done. Of course, that was the catch, after all it wasn’t everyday that Mr. Abiodun got to flog students. To get the reputation I wanted, I needed a teacher with A REPUTATION and Mr Abiodun (aka crusher) had that reputation. Even the big boys cried inconsolably after a touch of his magic wand.
Bammm!!! The sound re-echoed, that was my 25th and final stroke, the students watched agape, boys and girls alike. Twenty five strokes and I had stood my ground; no shaking, no rubbing, no scratching, no begging and most importantly not a hint of tears or remorse. Of course, it wasn’t all me, I had taken some “measures” for example I had worn 2 layers of kharki and a jean shorts. Crusher must have known this but he was adverse to stripping students. I considered my conquest, I was soon to be the “hero” of the school, most popular kid, best cane “chester”, toughest guy and a variety of accolades would be lavished on me. I savored the moment, thoroughly and perhaps a bit too vainly, I should have just walked to my seat but instead I said it. I said what should never have been said.
“So that’s all you can do”?
My question didn’t merely peeve the crusher, no, he was went into hysterical apoplexy. Maybe what made the question really strike a cord was the fact that he had actually done his worst, so he simply stepped out of the class while I made a grand return to my seat. The class was cheering, euphorically, the crusher had been crushed. But, the cheering was short-lived. The next person that entered the class was someone whose legend with regard to the use of a cane we had only ever heard whispers of from previous sets. Mr. Eze, they called him – The Drummer, but we never knew why. Not till that day.
Mr. Eze flogged with two canes while his victim was carried and stretched by 5 of the biggest boys in school. He had a penchant for jazz, while flogging he was the drummer, the victim was the drum-set, the canes were his drumsticks. Unfortunately for me, he had great distaste for bass, for which reason he didn’t flog students on their buttocks. He only flogged on the back, the bare back. Having heard the cheering before I entered the class and seeing how my insubordination towards my teacher had made me a “celebrity”, he cut me a deal: He would give me a prize if I could withstand just ten of his strokes without crying.
Long story-short, After that day, I thought I had exhausted my tear glands, I was quite sure I would never be able to cry again. The point is, I have stories, some real and others imaginary (like this one) but there are lots of people that actually had these kinds of experiences in their secondary schools either with teachers or bullies. These events were not necessarily pleasant but they were….. memorable and sometimes they instilled discipline beyond words can describe. With flogging banned in Lagos, what stories will school children tell tomorrow? Do you think good morals can be fully imparted without a cane? Or do you have stories of how getting flogged affected you or someone you know negatively or positively? Please comment.