I had flashbacks of secondary school flogging episodes and thought I’d share.....
Flogging in secondary school? It was just over the top. In JSS1 being secondary school newbies or better put “Freshers” (emphasis on the “ers” like Americans), JSS2 “seniors” were looking for school daughters and sons...............aaand I digress.....
Anyway, we (my classmates and I) had this English teacher who was less popular for his flogging skills (imagine people having flogging skills again- *sigh) let’s call him Mr Wicked or Wick! for short.
NB: I remember these scenarios in bits and pieces so it might not be completely accurate but it’s what I can remember that I put down.
Mr Wick! wanted us to learn how to spell “SINCERELY” by fire, force, rain, thunder, hailstorm and lightening- he even went as far as telling us to pronounce it like typical Yoruba people “Seeeen-se-wre-lee” so we could get the spelling. We were given an assignment the day before so majority spelt sincerely wrong- “Sincrely”, “Sincerly”, “Sincely” and so on and I think some people too did not submit their assignment so one of the two must have annoyed Mr Wick!.
Mr Wick! taught JSS1 classes in succession from A to C – luckily I was not in class A. Phew!. There was this other teacher who taught SS1-3 class English Language let’s call him Mr Flogger or Mr F for short; he was a pro at flogging students as in if they had an award for “floggers” he would win the award yearly. I think after gaining his degree, he went to the “School Of Flogging” at University of Nigeria (or wherever he finished from) to learn how to flog and he got the highest honour that is (Honoris Causa)Doctorate in Flogging as in he was good in a painful way. Anyway, Mr Wick asked Mr Flogger to “discipline” slash “instill” English Languwageee into his JSS1 fresher’s heads by using His Majesty Mr Cane on them.
Now I’m about to be dramatic and very descriptive so you are somewhat in for a ride (yells Seatbelts please!).
Right next to my class were three steps descending into the JSS1 block, no one could enter the block without someone in my class sighting the person. Another thing, my class had 2 doors like the others with one directly next to the stairs which was kind of a good thing for my class because students especially boarders could sneak into class through the back door whenever the teacher faced the board without him/her knowing but we never did or I do not remember ever sneaking into class because I was too busy trying to be in every teacher’s good book. Moving on, Mr Flogger skipped “happily” down the steps into Junior Class 1 Block heading to class A and once we all sighted him, we switched from “noise-making rambling on and on about nothing essential” mode to “panic” mode, we did not know if they were going to work through all three classes that afternoon, the tension in the air was so thick you could cut it with a strong cutlass forget scissors - it was that thick. We continued in our panic stricken state and to worsen the matter I think we had submitted our notes so there was no way to change anything even if we wanted to and even so I do not think anyone would have had Tippex for us to Tippex the spelling, even if we tippex’d our notes, the teachers were not blind-they would have definitely seen the whhitteee rrooughhh ssttrreeaaakkk of tippex across the wrongly spelt “sincerely”, even if we tore the page out they would have said that the assignment was not done so there was literally NOTHING that could be done even if we did anything they were still going to sniff out the rat so hey the whole block was going to dance to Mr Cane’s rhythm except those who got it right of course. It was a scary noon. Suddenly suddenly, suddenly, perhaps Mr Flogger got tired- we saw him walk back up the steps- exiting the block. Don’t be surprised if I say that my class heaved a HEAVY sigh of relief and the tension rate went from 35 000 000 000 to 500. Even with the tension rate of “500” - we were still panicking because we did not know whether Mr Flogger went to drink water, perhaps use the loo or rest his hand or change Mr Cane or get Mr Cane’s twin. We waited for a while and Mr Flogger did not return, we all reduced the tension rate to 10. After that who won’t know how to spell sincerely? Even if I am not sure of the spelling I say it in my mind as Seen- se-wre-ley.
Fast forward to SS1 and SS2- we were officially seniors, basking in the excitement of getting to wear skirts and not pinafores – I kinda started to love my pinafore in JSS3, just when we had to stop wearing it. We were going to be using “Higher Education” notebooks not “Exercise Books”. While we were still enjoying the added freedom of being seniors we came to the realisation that yes you guessed right Mr Flogger was our new English teacher. It was not a funny something we were shivering with panic. I personally was frightened during that Mr Flogger’s class.
Mr Flogger was teaching us phonetics in SS1, we had to write the phonetic symbols or whatever you wish to call it to words he dictated somewhat like dictation in primary school. Back then? It was like writing Cambridge exams mainly because he made you doubt yourself by saying “Are you sure?” so he said for every word you get wrong you get 10 strokes of Mr Cane. My class was eerily quiet because we weren’t expecting a “Phonetic Dictation” class work- we had not revised!
Hence we started- I at the time sat on the first row and first seat on the left in class and I think he loved starting from my corner when using Mr Cane. Yours sincerely got 7 (I’d never ever forget the number of questions I got wrong in that particular dictation because that is one class/moment I’ll never forget till His Kingdom Come) of the phonetic symbols wrong out of Heaven knows how many he gave us, it must have been over 15-20 words that he gave. Shake your head all you want.
You know when teachers say “swap your note with your classmate and mark each other’s”? That used to annoy me. Did you guys ever do that?
Anyway Mr Flogger after “correction time” looked at me as I was the first student on my row (who sent me to sit there ehn? Nobody told me in SS2 before I changed my seat....to the second row and first seat at least 5 people received their share of Mr Cane before Tee) and said:
Mr F: How many did you get wrong?
Me: (In my mind I was saying Tee better be honest before the man looks in your note. Bible says- The Truth shall set you free so don’t lie)..........Seven Sir!
Mr F: (Looks in my note) Seven? Seven times ten?
Me: Seventy sir!
Mr F: So you get seventy strokes of Mr Cane- gimme your hand!
Me: (Boldly stood up and stretched hand out – I knew deep down that I could not disappear like in the movies so I simply obeyed)
My thoughts were something like “Tee you have received this flogging today, there is no turning back. Just begin thinking of how you will get ice for your palm because it will really need it- you won’t be able to write or hold anything for a few hours with that hand so be wise and begin prepping for the “palm-treatment” ”. My thoughts at that point in time was all over the place, my heart was pounding.
Suddenly Mr F said;
Mr F: Make sure you study hard before next class bla bla bla. I won’t spare you next time (that applied to me and the rest of class)..... See you during the next class (exits class)
Me: squeezes eyes as a sign of HUGE relief and I probably said a silent prayer to big Jesus because he really proved his word about saying the truth. That was really true- I spoke the truth and I was set free from receiving SEVENTY strokes, Seventy?? AHH. Like Sisi Yemmie would say Pra-pra-pra-praise de Lord, Praaaiissee master Jesus.
Lesson Learnt- NEVER SIT ON THE FIRST EVER SEAT IN CLASS, TRY AND SIT ON THE THIRD OR FOURTH and always revise before class!
I did not let next lesson pass like that, I was game on ready for Mr F. He came to class that day and said if any of us got everything right he would give us N100- 100 bucks was a big deal then because it could get you loads for lunch then. I had the OK, bring it on! attitude, I was ready. The fact that I could escape seventy strokes of Mr Cane made me study hard- very extremely hard....... for ordinary class work that carried no percentage whatsoever but just to avoid Mr Cane.
So we started the class work and I kept getting the answers right- I redeemed myself that day, I turned a Phonetic-guru overnight. I was like ah you have just worsened your own situation today, that N100 must enter my wallet for “Break Money” today in addition to the one there already. After the dictation, he sat at back of the class we all submitted our notes to be marked by him. I was looking at him with evil side eye. When we got our notes back and I saw my score, I just rested my back and had this big grin- thinking about how I was going to have an extra spectacular lunch-break that day, probably sponsor one those juniors who never stop asking for sponsor. So he asked;
Mr F: Who got everything right?
Me: (raises hand proudly) Me...... Sir!
Mr F: (Mentions my last name which will be known as Tee here) Tee?! That’s good- well done.
Me: (thought “after threatening me with 70 strokes of Mr cane, I won’t now study hard? impossicannot) Thank you sir.
Look at me expecting the man to stretch his freshly removed from his pocket or wallet N100 clutched hand.........
Mr F: Okay class see you next week?
Me: (With shocked face, grumbling voice) See you sir!
I did not want to place a curse on him because I was excited that I got all the questions right.
The man just loved flogging and he was paid to teach but other teachers “rented” him for his skills.
In SS2 , he gave us this very loooooooooooooooooooooong list of words to learn over the long hols and said when we return he was going to ask us what they meant randomly. Till today I am glad to say that I remember the very first word on the board which was “Absurd”. I can never ever forget that word. We resumed school, fresh off the long hols- refreshed and happy to see those who we did not see during hols. The 1st or 2nd class back, he brought out his long list along with Mr Cane and started throwing words randomly- people like me who learnt them in the same order as it was given to us were in for a mini-shock. I remembered the meaning but forgot them immediately he pointed at me using Mr Cane;
Mr F: Tee! Stand up (pointed with Mr Cane in hand)
Tee: (Stood up)
Mr F: What is Congruent? (that’s not the real word he asked, just an example)
Me: Uhmm (squinting hard for the word to return to position)
Mr F: (Counting down) 5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ... 1
Mr F: Gimme your hand.
Me: (Stretches hand out) Smack! Smack!! (Received Mr Cane on the palm and sat back down gently)
As soon as I sat down, the answer returned to my head- that annoyed me so bad. The shock and fear made the answer scramble in my head but I did pull myself back together at some point- that was after Mr Cane painfully kissed the palm of my hand. Oh- he was merciful this time and gave us 2 for each word that we got wrong. After he left, my clique talked about the class for a bit and in no time, it was way behind us.
These are just a few scenarios I can picture in my head as I type this post but hey isn’t that part of what made secondary school fun? I can go on and on about how Mr Cane designed my hand but I shall leave that for laters......
Was Mr Cane ever used on you in high/secondary school?
Ps- I still have my “Higher Education” notes stacked somewhere covered in DUST!
Quote-“The fate of love is that it always seems too little or too much” - Amelia E. Barr
With numerous love
.....I bet it's obvious I'm not posting from a computer.