So this morning was different. The AK machine gun bursts sounded just like they do in movies, but I hadn’t heard the PA-HOOF report of tear gas before. All that mixed in with the sound of brick-sized rocks crashing down on the school roofs and through the windows made for a strange soundtrack. A toddler wandered out of the teacher’s housing and was standing between two buildings, too scared to even cry. I ran over and picked him up—who knew kids could grip so hard.
Students had exploded out of the buildings earlier when an older faction of students had begun stoning the classrooms- we’re one of the only schools with glass windows and no one inside felt like taking a shower in their pieces. The senior boys in the school, suspecting the administration of corruption (unwarranted), held a bush-court and declared a strike. Why they thought an attack was the best way to address the problem is beyond me, but ten minutes after that first campus-wide scream, they were being driven into the bush in front of police with tear gas launchers and machine guns. The machine guns being fired above the student’s heads, the tear gas canisters being fired into their chests. The four police to respond first could hardly hold back the several hundred students encircling the school though.
I moved building-to-building for the next 30 minutes, depending on which side of campus was having the worst rock-shower. I had a can of pop in my bag, and my new little friend and I sipped away while, one by one, teachers were informed their own houses were being stoned. One by one, they ran into the jungle to hide. The angry, quick cracks of the guns were the most distant they’d been so far, so I spent five minutes finding the boy’s house and family then pulled my bike from where I’d hid it. The riot had moved to a local primary school along my road and hundreds of kids were streaming out into the bushes as I passed— machine gun bursts encouraging them to go while answering rocks tore down leaves from the trees above their heads.
Even as I neared my house deeper inside the village, passing mothers running along the roads with covered mouths, I could still hear the pops and duller thumps from the police’s guns and the mob’s cacophony of angry screams from the bush. It’s late in the afternoon now, and I’m actually back at school to use the solar panel—glass and rocks are still scattered around, but other than my dog lying by my bike downstairs, the campus is deserted. A truck of police came from our district capital today, but the senior boys have promised a strike for the next three. I’m sure their resolve will dissolve after a night outside of their houses in the jungle with some of their friends already in jail, but I’m also sure the timbre of our final exams next week will be dour.
I picked one of the rocks up this morning and I’ve been carrying it around in my bag all day. I’m not sure what significance it has to me yet, but every time it bumps into my back I feel a little more discouraged and frustrated.
I hope you’re all doing well and staying safe. 56 days till I’m heading back your way— you’re all invited to my wedding with the first pizza place that winks at me.