Bullying as a topic of conversation is something that parents, teachers, and society in general, try to avoid. This is because the subject fills parents, teachers, young and old alike with despair. However, life on earth is fraught with all types of difficulties and challenges that try to frustrate or bully the human spirit. Ill-health, poverty, destitution, war and the unkindness of people are all examples of the way life tries to frustrate or bring down the human spirit.
However, we are all called upon to exercise courage in the face of life’s inclination to make the human spirit bow or be cowered.
It is critical that young people at all stages of education; primary, secondary or tertiary levels of education are given keen support and keen assistance if they find themselves grappling with this serious challenge, that some encounter, as they journey through life. Parents particularly must exercise courage as their children’s primary caregiver. Children must not be allowed to grapple with this challenge alone as it is a challenge that may cause a young child or person to end their lives. Parents must exercise wisdom by first of all calling for every available help that is at their disposal. This is often necessary to help their children emerge from their difficulties as a stronger and more courageous individual.
This was the case with my childhood friend Lola Soares. Lola was a pretty Brazilian Yoruba girl who had been born to her parents in their old age.
Lola had a much older sister, who was a highly placed official in the Ministry of Education. Lola’s immediate older brother was a Lieutenant in the Nigerian Army. Lola’s life was idyllic until the year she turned ten
Lola and I used to walk home together with my older sister and three other friends. Our school was about a mile and a half from the middle-class neighbourhood where we all lived. We all enjoyed the walk home after school, talking endlessly and buying hawker food as we all made our way back to our different homes.
About a week after Lola’s 10th birthday, an all-boys demonstration school was opened not too far from our own school. The boys used to pour out of their school gates, just about the same time as we also set out for home. Some of the boys began to pester Lola and call her names, like “Bessie Bunter”, “Roly Poly”, “Puff-Puff” and so on and so forth. Then after some time, they began to tug and pull at her arms and breasts. This used to frighten us and had Lola in floods of tears.
Lola’s mother decided to act when Lola with great defiance said she would sooner die than allow the bullies to defeat her.
The moment Lola’s mother heard Lola mention dying; she knew she needed to wade into the shark-infested waters with her anguished daughter. The rest of the family, to be honest, were too busy with their own lives and had swept the issue under the carpet, by saying that the bullies would get tired and leave Lola alone, or that Lola should take the bus home and avoid the bullies.
Lola’s mum, in the end, realised that Lola was her responsibility and needed her support as mother and ally. Lola’s mother (Mrs. Soares) came to the school to tell the headmistress about the bullying Lola had been suffering. The headmistress was horrified and agreed that it was important to fully support Lola.
Mrs. Soares arranged to travel with us one Friday afternoon after school and confront the bullies head-on with her daughter.
The headmistress asked the three big hefty, feisty girls to accompany Mrs. Soares and bring up the rear.
As we walked ahead, the bullies came straight towards Lola, chanting their obscenities, pulling at Lola’s arms and breasts like they had in the past.
Lola’s mother, Mrs. Soares was clothed like African royalty, at its best. Mrs. Soares was also a devout Catholic. She had prayed fervently and God gave her great courage that day. She looked awesome, and the bullies fell at her feet, wimping and petrified.
“I will let you go this time but know that in future, I will come at you with a truckload of soldiers. They will pounce on you when you least expect it!" She thundered at the ringleaders holding them by the scruff of the neck. The hefty girls had the head of some of the boys under their armpits, and some of them were held in an arm lock. Lola smiled and came alive again after so many weeks of being crestfallen. She whispered “They never knew I had my mum with me,” she said and glowed with beauty and life again as she watched her magnificent mum grab the bullies by the scruff of the neck.
The bullying ended suddenly as it had begun. A year later, we all moved on, from primary school to secondary school.
I learned that Friday Afternoon that bullies are actually cowards and cower when challenged. I also learned that bullies need to be reminded that what goes around, comes around. What bullies do to other people will be done; either to the bully themselves or their children and progeny (unless the grace or mercy of God intervenes).
Bullies must be confronted sometimes not just for the sake of their victims but also for their own good. Evil seeds they sow often constitute a bad harvest in their own future or the future of people they love.
Furthermore, as Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “In our struggles with life’s cruelties, we have cosmic assistance. There is something, in the very nature of the universe, that assists good. There is a compelling force that helps men in their different battles with the vicissitudes of life. I, as a Christian, call that compelling force Prayer.
A parent must never face this type of challenge alone. After you have prayed, tell the school, your GP, the NSPCC, tell your community leaders, and your church about the bullying. Most important of all, never allow your child to face the challenge of bullying alone.
The NSPCC give excellent support to children who may be experiencing bully through their "Speak out and Keep safe campaign" They can be contacted by telephone on 02078252505 or from overseas on (+44)2078252505 or via their website at
This link is a Morale boost for anyone who may be going through bullying.
The book "Silhouettes of a Treasured Heritage" is a recommended reading text at Princeton University and examined the racism and challenges that Miranda; a mixed race woman experienced as a child.
Silhouettes of a Treasured Heritage is also a QCArecommended reading text for the teaching of modern day British multicultural history.
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Stella Osammor