The good and bad of my 5 years in boarding school
It started like a joke, Mmayoyo (my mom) got an urgent call from Papa P who traveled to Kumba for one of his cocoa selling trips.
I overheard him say “wuna wash that box for room, put ma moyo (Eduke) ei clothes for inside, send ei for any driver whey ei di come Kumba”. It was during the 3 months vacation.
Mmayoyo and everyone at home in the village suspected Papa P wanted to put me in a dormitory school. But I was not happy beacuse I had heard many horrible stories about dormitory schools; ‘mami water’ (mermaids) attacks, food cooked in (cass) drums, abuse by senior students and many more. You can name the rest in the comments section.
How my journey to Saint Francis College started
My mom did as Papa P demanded and on that Saturday, the driver brought me to Papa P at the Sam Fon cocoa store at Mbonge road in Kumba. He took me to my sister’s house in kosala. On Monday, he took time off from the busy cocoa store and we went to saint Francis college Fiango Kumba. Whoever advised him to do so, I don’t know.
After all the inquiries, days later, he visited the Bursar and I went to the uniform room to collect my uniforms.
I was given a purple sportswear, meaning I was to stay in the Saint Pius dormitory. I was also given a purple “Check” (gown), 3white gowns, 2 “kockstibo” sandals and one shoe. The uniform master gave Papa P a check book of all what I needed in school; mattress, floor rag, buckets, charcoal iron, bed sheets etc.
So, it was reopening day. Hhhmmm, what did Eduke not see? I saw people driving in in big cars, other students coming in with more than three language. Seeing the content err, I almost pulled my dad by the hand to drag him back home.
I was like “…why did these people not tell my father that we were to bring milk, sugar, biscuits, corn flakes, extra uniforms et al…?
Immediately, tears ran down my cheeks. It worsened when I waved bye bye to Pap P. I couldn’t imagine myself in a place without a familiar face and liberty to see my family and friends whenever I wanted.
This kept me weeping all night and day.
My reaction towards the new lifestyle I met
I didn’t like the food in the refectory nor the time schedule for everything. I had never loved rice. My best was to swallow and there was no fufu. Garri was only for Sundays, God. The corn chaff errrr,if you don’t have extra spice you can’t enjoy it. Worst still, the jollof rice, the day the gods said it won’t be nice eerrr, water followed it’s own path, Maggi this way and salt that way, the oil will settle in the middle. If you don’t have extra spice, “…that one na your problem…”
I dreaded the breakfast, I always ate my bread empty. I didn’t know we were to bring “filling in” to eat with the tiny loaf they gave us.
I always slept during and after class. Hahahahahaha. “…Eduke go sleep sotteeeeyyy spit comot for ei mop…”. Weeehhh. I had this wizard, Epie, my “backchi” (the person sitting behind me). He made my life miserable in school. He always put broom sticks in my ears while I was asleep. He could just slap me and run away. I always chased him to no avail.
The sleeping issue made me come late for almost every activity except the refectory, hahahahaha, foodie like me. That was my best moment. It drove away all the sleep from my eyes. I was always the first person to pack my locker after the last class for the day.
The seniors too didn’t help matters. They will ask you to kneel, bend your back and will give you “saw-back” (slaps) as if you are their co-wives. For no reason eehh. What kind of life was this?
If not for the poor nature of my father eeerrr, I would have ran away from school. Despite all these, I wasn’t alone. I met my other small friend, Yvette. She too like me was in form three. She was new too. She dreaded the same things I dreaded. Wuna say I like sleep? Hhhmmm no me oooo, she looooooved sleep. There were times we forgot her in the dormitory. We clicked; she was small, cry-cry, in form three, missed home like me.
Their effects on me
All these negatively affected my results during the 1st sequence. When the results were published, she asked me, “…Na, what’s happening to you? You almost failed the first sequence…?” She said it as if she knew I was intelligent before I came to Safracol. I used to be a brain in my day school, Government Secondary School Kossala.
However, I got used to the environment with time until I revealed my true self. Eduke had always been a brain, just the environment that affected her.
Let’s leave the high school story for another day. It’s a long one too. That’s where the issue of big girls having smalls, and being wise started coming. I loved the food with time and everything about boarding school.
Come and see the girls and boys out of the gate on occasional days like 11th Feb and 20th May or Catholic World day. We knew we had arrived. “Who reach we? Na long white socks you want see? Or nah clean hair cut”? What of the straight well ironed and almost burnt uniforms or is the grammar from our buccal cavities? Massa.
Boarding school to me makes you what you want to be. Some people made the experience bad for themselves while others like me made good use of it. I will love to send all my children to a boarding school.
The good side of what I saw in Saint Francis College
-Saint Francis college taught me life is “Survival of the fittest“.
Have you been in a situation where you have no other option but to fight and survive? Have you ever gone to the refectory and food is finished? You have to use your head and work it out. There were Saturdays you came to the refectory and corn chaff was served and done. What will you do? Do you go around crying or looking for a way to get food? That was why I loved my form 1&2 kids. They always went behind the kitchen to help the cooks in doing the dishes and pots. What did they get in return? Food and life went on. If you apply this knowledge anywhere you will not lack. That’s why most boarding school graduates know how to find their way around.
-Make use of the little resources at your disposal.
Not only resources eerrr, even the opportunities you have. There were times we wished we could go home so to bring more money, basic needs et al. But there was no way. Mr. Atem or Leng won’t sign you an exit just like that. But you needed to survive. So it’s either you used the small omo and lone bar of soap left judiciously, guarding it with your last drop of blood or your wear unwashed uniforms.
We loved slim shirts and gowns so we made use of our needles and threads. Don’t forget sewing the “kolangs” which later had many holes. Also, most students wanted to go to cyber cafes to do research but just had to do with the books in the library. “I be first know how to use a computer?
-Be clean, organized, responsible, timely, disciplined and prayerful.
I won’t lie to you. Some of us came from those kinds of homes “Agaba Village“. We didn’t know the meaning of making up your bed because you didn’t have one alone. Or doing one thing at a particular time because we just did things anyhow. You cannot afford to be dirty, disorganized, lazy, time unconscious in a boarding school. Not when Messrs Mbuwi, Atem, Leng, Mme Adeline, Marie, Ma Ahone or aunty Ernestine is concerned. Woe betides you if your bed is dirty or unmade up during their inspections. The whole school will know.
Why won’t you be prayerful when Fr. Nouck or Valentine is principal? “Na demon them no cast am out or na prayer sessions them no holam?” I learnt how to make up my bed in a boarding school. That was where I knew I had to bathe or brush twice daily. I didn’t pass a night without making sure I had water to bathe or clean uniforms to wear the next day. 5h;00 was wake up time, 6AM holy mass and 2pm was refectory time. Standards!
-Some lessons are learnt the hard way.
Boarding schools allow you to learn some lessons the hard way. I bet you, you will never forget them in a hurry. There were things our teachers didn’t intervene in, not because they couldn’t but because they wanted the victims to learn. I learned to respect seniors the hard way. “Babubock pikin be know say no man no pass ei, not even the short seniors until them almost break my back”. Also it reveals good and bad friends too. I made very good friends in Saint Francis. Till date, I thank God for them.
-It gives you a very good reputation.
I can’t count how many times our principals had conferences on Sundays educating us on the norms of life. The topics were on different societal issues. Things we would never have learnt in class. I am sure these were some of the reasons why when we came out of the gate, the others used to envy us. When you see a student from a boarding school, you just know. It’s either they are speaking some Grammar or eating with some finesse or doing something with style.
The bad side of it
-Copy the bad habits of others
There were habits we copied from other students that didn’t help at all. Scaling the fence for new students was mostly copied from old students. A child must have left home not knowing what stealing was but when he saw others doing it, he was bound to do it to prove he was part of their team. Also, there were cases homosexuality from which others copied.
-Very easy to contract a disease.
It was only in Saint Francis I knew illnesses like Asthma, Gastritis, “Sugar-sugar” (vaginal itches), Appendicitis, Pneumonia etc. Some of these are contracted after using the same thing with another who has the disease like pant hangers. The kinds of food we ate privately in the Domitories could give us all sorts of ailments. How can children eat raw sachet tomatoes in the name of spice?
In a nutshell, boarding school is ideal for your kid. I have tasted both and I think the dormitory school groomed me.
I wrote this out of what I saw when I was going to a boarding school. If you think you have any other important thing to add, do so in the comments section.