During the advent of the Coronavirus lockdown I was very excited. No more boring lessons or being called names and being made fun of – I thought. I began to practice my singing, my dancing and so much more. Little did I know what fate had in store for me. Soon I began to grow weary of the lockdown and wished that it would end sooner rather than later.
I began to get bored of reliving the same routine; wake up, eat, sing, read, exercise and sleep. I had to get out of my self-created prison. Just as I hoped for, the president finally announced the reopening of schools, universities and other learning institutions, provided they adhered to COVID-19 health guidelines. I was very excited, I quickly washed my uniform, which then smelled like a pair of dirty socks and prepared for school.
The big day finally arrived! I prepared for school and started off. Oh it was just like the good pre-corona days when I could walk without wearing a mask. I didn’t mind walking around with a mask, besides Coronavirus is very much real. Everyone was then addressed by the head teacher and we were shown to our new classes.
Everything was different now; our desks were spaced out and we were to spend less time in school. That was then I saw two of my friends. We began to talk and it was business as usual but under ‘the new normal’.
Soon days began to change into weeks and weeks into months. My class then began to reveal their true selves before my very eyes.
“He doesn’t belong here, he is out of this world,” one would say.
“Even if he were to be a different version of himself, I wouldn’t let him be related to me in any way,” the other would remark.
“He is so girly, he may not be a boy, we might have an intruder amongst us,” the class monitor would whisper.
“One day I will punch him in his throat, it’ll make his voice grow deeper,” one of the bullies would say.
I was very angry and vexed upon hearing such rude remarks. You see, I attend an all-boys school and not everyone there is as kind and accepting as I thought. I don’t know why, but there is always something odd about me, it shows wherever I go. Sure everyone is different and special in their own way but I’m different, like level two kind of different.
For starters I’m of Sudanese and Cameroonian descent. Most of the citizens in my country are migrants and/ or settlers from present day Democratic republic of Congo, the ancient Luba-Lunda Kingdoms and southern Africa. And I am one of the few who are of northern, central or western African descent. My father is of South Sudanese descent while my mother’s ancestral descent draws back to ancient day Cameroon. I have different physical features that always stand out. My hair texture is different and my eyes and skin are of a darker shade. Once, one of the school teachers cut my hair because according to them I treated my hair. I was so shocked, I watched as my precious locks were cut. I knew explaining my hair to them would be a sheer waste of time.
Secondly, I am one of the few high pitched males in this world. If you weren’t looking at me but hearing my voice you would think a female is speaking, but that wouldn’t be the case. In my days as a child I was constantly teased for having a feminine voice and – as was expected – the teasing has followed me to secondary school. When I first learnt about puberty I had a hope for a deeper voice, but alas my voice hasn’t drastically changed, it is still high pitched as it was when I was 11 years old. In music I am termed as a countertenor or tenor – the highest male singing voice. My speaking voice falls into the range of a contralto. I can go as high as a female soprano and as low as a bass with minimal ease. Didn’t know you were in for music lesson today, huh?
Being African, one would expect me to speak with a pure African accent but that is not the case with me. My accent is a cross between the British, American and African accents. As a child I spent most of my time with my mother who speaks English with a similar accent. I might have gotten it from her, I suppose.
Lastly my behaviour is very androgynous. I remember when I first started up a conversation with one of the boys in my class; he began looking at me like I was some kind of undiscovered species. I knew I would get such reactions but I didn’t see his reaction coming.
My mother always taught my siblings and me never to be prideful and conceited. When she enrolled me in a government secondary school she told me to keep a low profile as learners there weren’t coming from social-economic circles like mine. Ever since day one at my secondary school, I have become the black sheep of my class. I was hoping to be accepted, but instead I was treated otherwise. Sometimes I would wish the Coronavirus lockdown would have never ended.
All I do now in class if there isn’t any teacher present I’d read storybooks all by myself. I began sitting in a small corner in the back desk in my classroom and wonder where it all went wrong.
I do try my very best to tune out of my classmates negative vibrations. Although not all of them are rude towards me. I just hope all the bullying and hate speech stop and that I emerge victorious in all of this.
If you’re reading this and you are going through something similar all I can tell you is to have some self-love. Self-love is something that cannot be defined easily. Self-love is totally different from selfishness. Self-love is constantly reminding yourself that you’re special in your own way. It is showing yourself that you care for your wellbeing. Situations like these always leave one’s self esteem in a state of plight. If by any chance you’re a bully and you’re reading this all I can tell you is to stop bullying. Believe it or not, I too was once a bully I bullied others to make myself feel better, but I was lucky enough to stop being the bullet in the gun.
Anything you say or do against a fellow human being for selfish reasons can be dangerous. Sometimes bullies aren’t aware that they are bullies, they think all they’re having is some harmless fun, but if the situation spirals out of control it could lead to a chain of sad events. Bullying cuts through a person’s self-esteem faster than a double edged sword and quicker than a snake’s venomous bite — reject bullying others.
Living in a toxic environment can be daunting and at times unbearable. But if you can make it out alive I can assure you that you can make it in any other environment that is just as toxic or worse. It doesn’t matter if you’re bullied because of your race, physical appearance, accent or anything else, all that matters is that you remain resilient and know what you stand for.
Tell us: Do you know what you stand for?