Bullying: We were tough, thuggish monos

It was not uncommon for most of us to wish we joined boarding school for secondary education back in the day. After all, most of us had enough of our parent’s discipline and hoped to leave the nest and be free.

We had heard of ‘monolization’ from older friends and we all thought it had something to do with older students making Form Ones tough. ‘Monolization’ also meant being told to run around or do impossible ventures like walking on one’s head.

I had friends who went to technical schools where bullying was a rite of passage. We used to hear stories of students being made to run at night besides pranks being pulled on them, like going to sleep only to find the mattress was water logged. But we never heard of senseless beatings.

So when the story on the monolization at Alliance Boys High School and attendant beatings broke out, it made for sad reading especially considering one of the victims had to later use crutches.

I attended the Queen of Apostles Seminary in Nairobi which had an Africa set up in character. We were the first 8-4-4 to be admitted after the old system of education was abolished. So that means the then form three had been monolised for two years.

At ‘Quins’ being a mono meant doing more cleaning duties, be a mother (serving food for a table of eight) and of course being sent to errands while being ridiculed as a ‘Mono.’ Unfortunately the year we joined Form One we were only 40 students mostly from Nairobi and its environs.

We were also big in size, street smart as well. We had been brought up in homes where you couldn’t tell your mother you have been bullied. You were expected you to defend yourself after having wrestled ‘obohos’ in the hood since primary school. You can imagine the shock on Form Threes who were waiting for years to bully us.

To show you how cunning we were we managed to convince the person measuring uniforms that we are entitled to put on trousers and not shorts. This made us have a psychological edge over the Form Threes. We knew our rights, and believe me, we ended up beating the Form Threes and even bullying them.

What is more, we served meat to Form Four, Five and Form Six, and then ensured the Form Threes got nothing. When they decided to eat our share we beat them to their own game by eating all the meat before serving at the Dining Hall.

I remember a Form Three ‘cop’ we hated for giving his colleagues protection. This prefect had only one pair of boots which we tried flushing down the toilet. We were one unit and never snitched on each other. When Form Threes tried to call us ‘Mono’ we ignored and never responded. When they tried attacking us at night we fought back.

The good thing was that in those days teachers never allowed bullies to go overboard. What happened to the term discipline master? Why are we leaving extreme discipline measures to other students? I also hear some cases of sodomy by older students, which is very unfortunate. We should all look at ourselves and know that most of the bullying in school is because of what we have approved as a society. We praise criminals and treat them as heroes.

We have stopped looking at church leaders, good politicians, CEOs as good role models. Monolisation can be there but beating young students to the point of injuries should be treated as criminal cases. I also hope parents will teach their children to be tough and able to stand against extreme bullying and speak out to the authorities without being seen as if they are snitching.