I know you all have tons of elementary school and jss stories so this blog entry is really more for you, but I will begin with two of my most memorable primary school tolis.
Toli Number One
When I was in primary school, we always had either a spelling bee or a math class quiz on friday mornings. Three or four kids would be selected from each section (red, yellow, green and blue) to represent their section and the whole primary school would gather to watch. Now in one of those spelling bees, I represented green with some other kids. We were in class 6. I was asked to spell mathematical. I thought, oh, such an easy word. It is spelt just as it sounds. Overconfident, I spelt it. The quiz master said, "wrong, try again". In my mind, i was like whaaaaaat? I couldn't have missed that. Maybe he didn't hear me. I tried again, confident that this time, he was paying attention, he said I was wrong again. What? Section green...last try, the word is mathematical. I spelled it. Wrong. What? To this day, I still don't know what mistake I made. It is entirely possible that I spelled it as m-a-t-h-e-t-i-c-a-l , missing the m-a in the middle but I don't know how I could have missed such an easy word three times! Some of the other kids in my section also missed their words so Green was last! Losing was the easy part. The difficult part was to come- how does one face his/her classmates after s/he caused his/her section to lose. There would always be "green kpee, bedi akpele" (tr: green is last and will eat akple, an ewe dish made from cassava dough), and then there was the song:
On friday mornings,
we have spelling bee
a section will be first
and a section will be second
a section will be third
and a section will be fourth
i'll say better luck next time
Class six children will stand in your face to sing "i'll saaaaaaaaaaaaaay better luck next time" tauntingly. Right then, it was not fun to be me. So after the quiz was over, I decided I wasn't going back to the classroom. No way! All this time, I had a mild toothache which suddenly started hurting really bad. I went to the assistant head-mistress, complained of my unbearable toothache and cried. Whether it was real or acting, It convinced her sufficiently and I was made to go home! yes! Let's just say by the time I returned on Monday, everyone had forgotten about Friday's quiz:)
Toli Number Two
I remained in section green and in JSS 1, again I had to represent green, this time in athletics. I think it was for 400 m, 800 m and 1500 m races. I don't know what happened to green that year but whilst other sections had strong athletes in JSS 2 and 3, somehow the best they'd found was this JSS 1 kid. me. How was I going to compete against the legendary Vinolia and other JSS 3 girls in other sections? In retrospect, I think it was all in my mind, and that I was defeated before I even began the race because I was so convinced that I couldn't out-race older kids. On the first day of the inter-sectional athletics competition, I was only to run the 400 m sprint. The longer distance races were going to be run the next day. So I ran, and I was last. I hated losing. Who doesn't? My mates made me feel so bad about being last. Even the boys, who were usually my paddies (tr: friends) were all saying things like oh Esi, what did you think you were doing? and then laughing at me. So i went home that day and failed to return the next day to run the other 2 races. Later when the competition was over and I returned to school, the teachers gave me a stern warning and I was made to write lines which read: "I will not let my section down again". I was quite surprised that they were so upset at me because I hadn't thought that I was letting my whole section down. I'd just thought of saving my own face. What happened was, when I hadn't shown up, the second best athlete green had was made to run those races and of course she was last in both races. Writing the lines taught me my first real lesson in responsibility and accountability to a team. I'd never written lines before so it was a big deal and I really felt like everyone was disappointed in me, more disappointed than if I'd run and been last. The great news is that in JSS 3 they gave me a second chance to run again and green won all the races and was first so I was able to redeem myself. yes!
What are your most memorable primary school and jss stories? It doesn't have to be about winning and losing, just whatever you remember. Please limit the stories to primary school and JSS, and save your secondary school stories for later this week. I'll be posting a special secondary school blog entry where you can tell us about your SSS/Boarding School/Sixth form days. I have some crazy inter-co (inter-colleges athletics) stories myself and funny letters from Presec, Adisco, Kwabotwe, Augusco, St. Peters, Motown, GSTS and Koforidua Sec. Tech. boys. One presec boy said he was "stupefied at my tyranny" eish scholar! Stay tuned.