It is very frustrating when you can’t sleep and then you are being forced to sleep. Usually happens so much that I have become used to the phenomenon.

Reminds me of those times in high school when the school authorities thought it was compulsory to have siesta after lunch because it was aptly assumed that the mind was tired and as such the body needed to rest. If you were a junior boy in the school, then sorry siesta was not for you. The seniors ended up sending you to each other that by the time you finished running those errands, siesta time was over and you had to go to move on to the next school activity.

High school holds some wild memories for some of us. There were seniors who were huge as trucks and we saw them as seven foot tall because they towered over us. And why won’t we see them like that because we were barely four feet and I for one was only eleven years old. Furthermore what was frightening was the sort of nicknames they had that was put on every wall space they could find. Names like Reverend Satan (I was coming from a Christian home), Ras Demon, Skido Ray, Nii Ofeygey (guy who first introduced us to weed – gave us a lecture on the positive effects of smoking weed) amongst others.

I had never seen such buffed and well oiled human beings in my life as I saw the Mr Muscle competition for the first time in high school. The competition was won by a black belt martial artist called Senior Shantung after one of the Chinese movie star characters that were prevalent at the time.

Let me tell you what made Senior Shantung so terrible to us newbies. This was a guy who had shoulders rounded like two fufu mortar bowls had been put in each shoulder. Guy was huge and used to carry around a ‘sack of goodies’ which was actually his spoils from bullying young boys like us for our tins of sardines, corned beef and usually milk. One day he gave the ‘sack of goodies’ to one of my colleagues to carry and this guy ended up dumping its contents on the floor because of its weight. It was the first time any of us really saw what the ‘sack of goodies’ contained and for our punishment we were given a plot of land behind dormitory to weed using torch lights at night. This was commonly referred to as ‘disco weeding’.

Mid terms were times when we were so glad to escape the bullying of seniors and go home and whenever we were coming back we dreaded the moments of hide and seek we’d have to play with the seniors to get out of the traps they set. One incident is printed vividly in my mind and I will never forget it.

This one time just as me and my cousin walked through the school gate, we saw some seniors sitting in front of the very first hostel playing cards and laughing and right next to them on the floor was a small circle drawn in the ground. Around this tiny circle was scattered various denominations of money and nobody touched it. It was as if they were oblivious that there was a lot of money of all denominations scattered on the floor.

Just as we tried to sneak by, we were called over and by now our hearts were in our shoes. We were each asked to stand in the circle, my cousin and me. Truth be told we didn’t know what to expect of these seniors because they were a crazy bunch. So we just stood at attention in the circle as we have been told and then we were told to close our eyes. Oh man! You have no idea how scary that was. So we closed our eyes and the next thing I felt was being lifted by my two feet off the ground, turned upside down and every shaken down like a chicken.

Wow! What was that? You open your eyes only to see senior Shantung, upside down with a grin on his face holding you and shaking you so vigorously that all the money in your pocket jiggled and fell onto the floor just around the circle. You were shaken so vigorously that every single item in your pocket fell to the ground. The only thing that usually didn’t fall out was the handkerchief in your pocket. Apart from that, every paper note and especially the coins given as change from the mate of the trotro that you rode to school was the first to drop. Only when he was satisfied that he had everything did he stop and put you back down. All this he did with just one arm. He had big palms.

The fufu and groundnut soup I had eaten before leaving home for school almost came rushing out because like we say in the local language ‘the soup had run into my head’. It was a pretty scary moment.

The fun thing about the old system of education (GCSE system) in Ghana is that whenever you left school after ‘completion’, your legacy remained for at least 5years which was the duration of the school system. As such there were instances where in later years we get to meet some of these seniors outside the walls of high school and they are the most gentle of men.

Met Senior Shantung a couple of years ago when apparently he was in Ghana on holiday from his post abroad in the British Army and he was only about 5 foot 10 inches tall to my 6 foot 1 inch height but Damn! Guy still had the shoulders of an armored truck.

Truly high school bears the best of memories but never beats the memories of university and college.

That’s where the real fun is.


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