There are bullies…there have always been bullies in schools all over the world. Bullying however is manifested in various ways such as verbal, physical and sometimes non-verbal actions like isolation.
In this post, I am going to give you a glimpse of what bullying is like in Ghana. It is good news that bullying is reducing in our schools and not as severe as they used to be. In most schools in Ghana, bullying is prohibited; a student is dismissed when caught or reported to bully another student. This harsh punishment is however not a deterrent to students at all. Students do not report it because they are afraid of the repercussion there after from other seniors. Students have also been wired to endure such treatments from seniors by the claim of it being norm. Since the authorities do not spend time with the students in the dormitories where the student spend a huge chunk of their time together, bullying is most severe in the dormitories. Mentioning a few stories to give you a glimpse of what bullying is like in Ghana.
STORY NUMBER 1
In a school in Cape Coast some time back, I heard a story about a boy who died from suffocation when he was kept in a trunk-box for several hours. A male junior with a small frame was just walking past when the seniors saw him, they made fun of him for how small he was and bullied him. He was put in a trunk and locked it; they were so engaged in a lengthy conversation while one of the seniors sat on the trunk. The thought of it is disheartening especially when I think about the fact that the boy could be cluster phobic or asthmatic; even if he wasn’t, can you imagine how terrible that was? He cried and cried; begging to be free till he had no strength left. The weirdest part of the story was that the seniors sat there and talked, forgetting that the boy was in the trunk. When they remembered and opened the trunk, the little boy was dead.
STORY NUMBER 2
Another young man in a school in the Cape Coast of Ghana suffered paralysis from being bullied. It was a normal thing for students to be punished by carrying trunk-boxes. Only that for this student, a heavy trunk was dropped in a plop onto his back while a senior trampled on it. After the terrible ordeal, the boy couldn’t get up again.
STORY NUMBER 3
A friend of mine who was transferred from a school in Koforidua to my school had experienced a lot of difficulty in the hands of the seniors. He talked about being unable to go back to the dormitory because of how much he was terrorized when he went there. He said he didn’t bath for weeks; he described being so dirty that you could gather dirt if you passed your fingers on his skin. He spent most of his time sleeping in classrooms because of how badly he was treated by seniors when he went to the dormitory. Sometimes for the fun of it, he was asked to go naked and hump a wall which had holes in it and was forced to moan while he did it.
This and many others were the experiences that most people who have schooled in Ghana experienced in High School. This is nothing to be compared to the emotional trauma and stress that comes with it. Some students bully others by isolating them, talking down at them, pushing them around, teasing them and doing many other things just to break their confidence; the perpetuators could either be seniors or mates.
Despite the seriousness of these happenings in Ghanaian schools, it will surprise you to know that I have never heard a public address on such matters where serious measures were put in place to curb such occurrences. It is even more surprising for you to know that people who have been hurt through bullying and have hurt others believe it should be a ‘tradition’; never had I heard such nonsense being hailed as sanity till I went to High School in Ghana.
One thing that these kids do not realize is the fact that there is life after school. After High School, in many occasions have I met people who bullied me; there were moments I believed for the first time that they realized how foolish they’ve been for bullying others.
I was in my father’s office one day when a woman walked in with her son; they came in to ask for support concerning a land they had acquired. My father, being a philanthropic real estate owner listened to their story and was moved to help them because the woman was a widow. The son of that woman was a guy who was brutal back in High School and particularly bullied me. I could see how uncomfortable he was and when he was introduced to me, it would have been a great opportunity for him to say, “Oh I know him. He was a junior I supported and helped when he was just a newbie who didn’t know much about how to live by himself”. That would have made my dad so happy…what a great way to start a strong family relationship.
Unfortunately the story would have been, “He was the junior I terrorized and took most of his food for the term. Forced him to wash my clothes at inappropriate hours, scrub the veranda with a toothbrush and almost beat him to a pulp when he missed washing my jumper right before Sunday service in the evening but for intervention of people that were present. This was the junior I put fear into for no apparent reason.” Because he couldn’t have said that, he was silent and didn’t say a word about ever knowing me neither did I.
I have met many others after that in very compromising situations…like one dating a close friend of mine and acting like he’s got amnesia about High School whenever he saw me.
What I am saying is, school is just a part of a journey; the real journey is after school. Take the opportunity of having juniors or even mates as a stepping stone to move higher in life; be friendly, support each other, treat people with love, respect and empathy because you may never know. They might be the trigger of great things in your life.
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