I’ve been struggling with my thoughts since I read the news of 12-year-old Sylvester Oromoni. I’ve tried to move on from the heartbreak the family must be feeling. I’ve tried to shelve the haunting video of his crying dad to the back of my mind where it will hurt less, but I haven’t been successful.
I attended a boarding school, and I didn’t have a terrible experience, however in the same school, I’ve heard some of my old classmates recount harrowing stories of what they passed through in the hands of fellow students. It’s nothing so harrowing to the point of death but is still very disturbing to listen to.
There’s an existing culture of bullying in a lot of secondary schools in Nigeria, whether day or boarding. The ss3 students bully the ss2 students, then the ss2 students in turn bully the ss1 students, and can’t wait to get to the next class to mete out what was done to them on the younger ones.
For boarding schools in particular, we usually see a mixture of young children from different backgrounds, upbringing, values, morals, orientations, exposure, living together and making the most of the school environment. There’s usually a silent “survival of the fittest” aura hanging around a lot of boarding schools. A lot of students attend one term or one session and disappear (the parents withdraw them and take them to other schools). Then the rest stay on, get stronger and more adapted to the environment and start excelling. If you attended a boarding school in the early 2000s, you would agree with me. Unfortunately, times have changed since then that we now hear things like cultism in secondary schools.
I don’t think that there’s anything more upsetting right now than the way the school authorities are handling the situation. Sylvester’s parents didn’t send him to your school to die. The least you can do is be honest about what happened. It is more upsetting that the boys who took his life are still walking freely. There’s something else bothering me, the gnawing feeling that just like every other thing that happens in Nigeria, this one would be swept under the carpet and forgotten in no time too.
Would this be like the other numerous cases where families had to find a way to move on without closure, because “Nigeria happened to them?” Would the kids who perpetrated this evil act be brought to book and will justice be served to serve as a deterrent to other kids? Would the boarding school system in Nigerian schools be critically reviewed to target and stump out issues like cultism and violence among young students? Will young Sylvester’s death be in vain? Will his parents eventually find closure? So many questions I have no answers to.
I honestly cannot imagine the pain his family would be feeling right now, and I pray that God consoles them and gives them fortitude at such a difficult time.