Thursday, 25 May 2017

MY CHILDHOOD ADVENTURE WITH MR KOBOKO


The thing is that, sometimes we didn’t even know what pissed my dad off. It always looked as if we were walking on eggshells throughout our childhood. Sometimes we would see him coming home and we would immediately stop whatever it was we were doing. I mean whatever we were doing. If we were playing outside we would run inside. If we were playing inside and saw him coming from one of the windows we would stop playing and sit down quietly. We didn’t get flogged for stealing or fighting each other or whatnot because we were getting flogged for things less than that like standing outside when he came in or losing a leg of slipper.

The process was always the same. Maybe we would be playing ‘castle’ in the parlour or watching cartoons. Then suddenly we would hear his keys in the lock. He always came home by 5 o’clock, an hour earlier than our mom and then leave again as soon as she returned. He would have heard the noise from the television before coming in or we wouldn’t have time to rearrange the sofas before he unlocked the door and came into the parlour. He would stare at us with blazing eyes, like we had stolen the Holy Grail itself, and then the shouting would begin. He would bellow and roar and we would be left trembling in our shorts, hoping he wouldn’t go for Mister Koboko. Sometimes he would but sometimes he wouldn’t.

On occasion however, we would do something that we knew would warrant a beating. Like falling over and breaking a vase or tipping over a bottle of wine from the bar or being outside, even if it was the backyard, when he came in. Then we would wait in the parlour, filled with dread and trepidation until he bellowed out the culprit’s name, summoning the person to his room.

Mr. Koboko was a well made horsewhip which our dad kept hanging from a nail behind his door. It was made of twisted leather with a thick head that had a hole in the middle and a twisted body that tapered down to the hard tip at the end. He would call the victim in and ask if you had eaten. That usually wasn’t a good sign of things to come as he was inadvertently asking if you were strong enough to take the beating. He would warn you that if you dodged a stroke it would be replaced by another one. Then he would choose whether to flog you on your hands or buttocks and then depending on which was chosen he would use the head or tail of the whip. And then the flogging would begin.

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The pain as I remember it was excruciating but it was better to bear it. If you moved around you only elicited further anger and more haphazard flogging from him. So we stayed still. We learned not to run from the whip. We were allowed to cry and we would scream our heart out but we dared not move from the spot. After it was over he would send us to our room to remain incommunicado from everyone else in the house till further notice.

Did this punishment help me and my siblings? I honestly can’t say yes to that. We grew up timid and terrified of authority. It took a number of years in the university and away from home to get over the emotional scars of this treatment. And I hope never to behave in such a way to my own kids.

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