To celebrate completing learning situation one and 3 quizzes during the first semester we had a coloring party. I photocopied a picture from my coloring book that I brought with me to Benin and they almost lost their minds. Also thank you Si-Asar family for the coloring pencils, this definitely would not have been possible without them. I was definitely not going to use my personal 24 pack 😝😝😝😝 JAMAIS! (never!) I also tried to play American music on my phone but it didn’t work too well. Apparently playing music off your phone in a class of 41 excited students is very different than playing it in an empty cement house with only one person in it lol
So for the first 4 months of living in Benin I could not charge my phone in my house. Instead everyday I had to go to my host family’s house to charge. Going over there everyday want a problem for me because I basically go there everyday because they are my family. No really I harassed them to the point that they basically adopted me for better or worse lol
My issue with charging my phone there was that I was consistently stealing their electricity. I felt so uncomfortable because I would want to charge my phone and my tablet, so I would basically be attached all the time.
I had been talking to multiple people how to get the electricity in my house going and finally one day Papa Propertaire was like hey Biia I’m ready to attach this thingy to the outlet so you can charge your phone (not a direct quote). So I was excited!!!!
So he came in and CUT open the wires with pliers with no rubber on them. And started moving the wires around with his BARE HANDS also unprotected with rubber. And I’m standing behind him like😰…
Me: I don’t know Papa Propertaire… this isn’t dangerous to just be touching all this stuff? Like the electricity could hurt you…
PP: What? Hahaha! No, I’m use to this stuff.
Me: I don’t think that’s how electricity works…
PP: Do you have une Lame?
Me: une lame?…
Me: *makes high pitch mmmmmm noise that I make when a student writes the wrong answer* a what?
PP: you know the thing you cut your nails with…
Me: oohhhh yes yes I’ll go get it *brings back a nail clipper*
Me:🙃 I’ll just ask to borrow my host family’s lame…
In class, while circulating the classroom, I rested my arms on my head waiting for my students to finish copying the chalkboard. Immediately I heard a collective gasp and about 40 mouths started furiously talking in french and 3 students even jumped out of their seats to yell/ plead at me to stop what I was doing. I, of course, could not understand what they were saying because of a combination of 40 people talking at the same time and also speaking French quickly. After finally calming them down, Ganni-Mena (one the oldest and most outspoken students in class) explained to me that if I do that my husband would die…
Me: what? This? *does it again*
Me: that’s false! *doesn’t take hands down*
Me: *takes down hands* I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I had to confirm that I understood! But it’s okay… I don’t have a husband.
Class: *collective gasp* it will kill your fiance?
Me: Nope. No fiancé.
Class: *makes mental notes about Madame Biia’s personal life to tell other students and family* It will kill your mother?
Me:😐😑 really… that’s false… I’ve done this many many times and my mother is still alive.
Me: So will people die if I do that? 🤔
Class: 🤔no…? 😲
Draw a classroom furniture
*for the record there is a picture of a ruler down there but they didn’t get points because technically a ruler is a classroom object
So at school the was a two week period where students were being possessed left and right. It was not fun. It got to the point where more than 15 kids were possessed in one day. There was even a couple in my class and a few times class was canceled because of it (which sucked because it was in between the two strikes that took place so the teachers lost valuable teaching time.
For the first student in my class to be possessed there was sudden yelling and twisting around and a girl started yelling in Bariba. At the same time she was crying and her arms were twisting into very uncomfortable positions. In Bariba she was yelling about how she wanted to possess and would kill another student in class. Now this other student who was standing started stiffening up and had a death grip on a desk. Then her head started bobbing and jerking around. And she started making a low guttural with each bob. Luckily for me, my first possession took place in my Co-teaching class so I didn’t really have to do anything. The Vice-Principal and accountant came told the other students to carry the 2 girls out and put them in the teacher’s break room.
In my solo teaching class, the girl got possessed right before my class started. When I arrived the priest had sent everybody home and was trying to exercise her. She was walking on her knees yelling in what I can describe as only a high pitch dolphin short burst scream. I stayed until she was exorcised. That means the priest said a bunch of prayers while also throwing salt on her. Afterwards she came out of her trance she had to wash up before she could go home.
Let me yell you… it was a lot to soak up.
Possessions ranged from students collapsing and yelling in different languages to students having seizures and acting all crazy. It got to the point that there was 2 school prayers (each 5 hours long) held and a priest spent a day at school helping students and throwing salt in front of classes. Only girls got possessed which is strange because both boys and girls can get possessed
I asked the vice principal if this was normal and he said every year 1 or 2 students get possessed but never to this many at once. Allegedly a couple of villages in an hour range had 1 possession as well. A teacher told me that something was wrong with the school grounds but no one knew what. Possessions are not because of voodoo. Possessions happen because there is a witch/sorceress and decides to possession someone to try to force them to do her biddings which is usually to kill someone. Just about all the possession at school had a student saying she was going to I’ll another student or teacher
My host mom asked me how I felt and what would I do if a student tried to kill me. I told her that it felt a little bizarre to me and I don’t care who is trying to kill me but everybody will get punched in the face. They could be a student, a teacher, an elder or a baby I’ll punch everybody. If I die I’m taking the other person with me. My response caused my mom to cry from laughing so hard. She then told me I didn’t have to worry about it because sorcery didn’t effect strangers. That made me feel a little better but I would still feel creepy at night sometimes. (Side note: apparently you should try to stop the child and get help for them instead of punching them in the face… look you guys I’ve seen too many movies and read too many books to do this. You just got to end it right away idc idc idc idc)
ALSO one last thing… when I asked the teachers why this was happening the answer was “It’s Africa”. They found it amusing that I was not satisfied with that answer and how I didn’t think it was an actual reason.
Possible Reason why this might have happened sourced from the mind of Biia:
- Students not wanting class
- It being an elaborate school prank where every year a student gets possessed but since there’s a stranger here this year they decided to go all out
- Some type of environmental trigger like lead paint, tainted soil, too much dust, trash strewn all around
- Some scary insect Bourne sickness
It’s Africa lol just kidding