Secondary school was an interesting and weird place.
Two nights ago I was on YouTube looking for something to unwind with before falling asleep, then I saw that Dimma Umeh had uploaded a new video, and who was I not to click? The title got my attention and I was quite interested in hearing her takes on the matter. “Toxic Nigerian parenting” was the fulcrum of the discussion, I believe.
I finished watching the video 12 hours later.
Less than 10 minutes in, I hit pause. Reflecting on the points she had made, I began to view certain situations in the average Nigerian secondary school system from perspectives that hadn’t crossed my mind beforehand.
Looking back now, I do not understand why “seniors” were allowed to inflict the level of wickedness that they did. I know some may not agree with me, they may call it character development or whatever name you want to brand it as, but a lot of the bullying and meanness was unnecessary.
Both of you, senior and junior, were still children. A clueless child is now trying to “instill morals” in another clueless younger child? Make it make sense please, because it doesn’t. There was very little aim to actually add value to the “juniors”. It was just wickedness for wickedness’ sake.
When I was on JSS1 or 2 I would eavesdrop on their conversations, and I remember hearing them talking about these things with pride. Punishing juniors was seen as some right of passage to them, something you had to do so they can “take you seriously”. You’d be randomly minding your business and one senior will just tell you to kneel, or dump her clothes on your bed & instruct you to wash. It was so ridiculous.
That mindset, I believe, shaped a lot of our minds on how to handle power. Many young children over here are being shown that wickedness and manipulation is normal (and even celebrated) when you’re placed in a position of power. Unless they unlearn this behaviour, they will carry it into adulthood. They will carry it into positions of authority. They will see those positions as less about serving the people under their care, and more about looting resources & making those people’s lives worse for their own enjoyment.
It’s the little drops of water that form the mighty ocean.
The environment one grows up in matters a lot. A WHOLE LOT. This is why I think it’s so important that we ask ourselves the important questions, why we believe the things we believe, and why we do the things we do. If you really believe that seniors were/are right to beat junior students and would not hesitate to send your child to experience the same, please ask yourself why. Does it really “build character”? Is it really expedient?
I know someone who is using a hearing aid because of a slap from a senior. Another person had to get surgery from a slap. There was a case in my school of a boy with a broken back after punishment from a group of seniors. A friend of mine was forced to sleep outside for days, beaten till he was bleeding, and had to have surgery on any injury he sustained from seniors. Explain to me the “moral instruction” in any of that.
That’s how you know this thing is a whole lot of wickedness. It was like a drug to some of these seniors, they got a high from beating, inflicting all sorts of violence and watching their victims curl in fear. If you derive joy from such wickedness, it shows that there is certainly an imbalance in your life. It was absurd. Nothing about it makes sense and will ever make sense to me.
A lot of Nigerians/Africans have an irrational obsession with physical discipline that borders on (and sometimes becomes) physical violence. If you try to reason with these group of people, they bring up “spare the rod and spoil the child” and “my parents/teachers beat me mercilessly and I still turned out fine”. I doubt that anyone who went through such intense amount of trauma and has not addressed it in adulthood is actually “fine” emotionally. These things leave physical and emotional scars, distort self image and can affect inter-personal relationships.
Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline [correction administered with godly wisdom and lovingkindness] will remove it far from him.
Proverbs 22:15 AMP
Don’t fail to discipline your children. The rod of punishment won’t kill them. Physical discipline may well save them from death.
Proverbs 23:13-14 NLT
Children should not be beating children, and I dare say, teachers shouldn’t too (because most of the time they get carried away). Correcting a child, in all its forms, should always be done in love, it should be done because you truly care about the child being a better person. It should not be done to instill fear, or to show superiority, not from a place of anger or frustration, and not for beating sake. When it is from any of the latter, it stops being discipline and becomes abuse.
Till next time,
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