Some months ago, I asked my WhatsApp contacts if they’d consider sending their kids to boarding school, and one of them said “No” because of the Madam Koi Koi and Bush Baby stories he’d heard. As someone who spent six years of my life in boarding school, I rolled my eyes so hard and had a good laugh.

“Men in White Tried to Take Me Away” — 7 Nigerians Share Their Boarding School Horror Stories

While his concerns for safety hold water, they are nowhere near the scary things boarding school students experience in real life. I recently spoke with eight of my childhood friends who also attended boarding schools, and these are their stories.

“We were sure a wolf had invaded our school” — Biodun*, Lagos State Model College, Badore

One time, we were all convinced a wolf had gotten into the boys’ hostel. Our school wasn’t far from the Lekki Conservation Centre, and Ajah wasn’t fully developed then. We were surrounded by thick forests. We’d wake up in the morning to find footprints at the entrance to our hostel. It didn’t look like a cat or dog’s footprints. No one had a dog in school — not the academic staff or the non-academic staff. We knew we couldn’t catch it, but we were all determined to at least see the wolf. For about a week, we’d stay up late into the night and watch from the window, hoping to see the wolf. I never saw it, but some people swore it was white. One thing was sure though, we’d wake up the next morning and see the footprints.

“Two men in white tried to take me with them” — Tunji*, Lagos State Model College, Badore

Three days after I resumed as a JSS 1 student, a senior who was my family friend invited me over to her class during night prep. She gave me a good pep talk on how to survive in school. On my way back to my class, two strange people appeared to me, all in white. I didn’t see them approach; they just appeared. They told me to follow them to the toilet, but I insisted I wasn’t pressed. They tried to coerce me until I saw one of the teachers standing far away. I screamed, and they just disappeared. When I told my friends at the time, they didn’t take me serious.  

“We saw a bush baby one night” — Tanwa*, Babcock University High School

While other classes had left for the long holiday after third term exams, us JSS 2 students had to stay back to prepare for our junior WAEC. Around midnight, my friend and I were gisting and laughing when we heard the sound of a child crying and pushing something that sounded like a cart behind our room window. The window faced a thick bush path that led to the general refuse pit. we sat in shock as the crying and pushing continued. The following morning, we found out everyone who was awake around that time also heard the strange cries. We all believed it was a bush baby we saw that night.

“I saw a growing shadow on the wall” — Lase*, Lagos State Model College, Igbogbo

I woke up one night in JSS 1 and wanted to take a shit. There was no light in the hostel, but to make it worse, none of my friends wanted to follow me to the toilet. We usually moved around in groups during the day. I grabbed my touch light and braced up. But just as I was about to get to the door, I saw this huge shadow on the wall moving weirdly and making a rickety sound. My first thought was to scream and run, but I calmed myself and started to tiptoe. The shadow got smaller as I got closer to the bunk. When I finally got to it, I saw it was two guys having sex. Up until that moment, I’d never heard of gay sex. They must’ve seen my torch because they stopped, and I just went about my business. However, the entire image — the big shadow, rickety sound and general darkness — manifested into a scary memory in my head. It haunted me until I got older and had a better understanding of sex and sexuality.

“A ghost that touched girls at night” — Anita*, Lagos State Model College, Badore

I can’t forget the two weeks of horror we once experienced in the girls’ hostel. First, it was strange sounds in the ceiling every midnight, but it didn’t stop at that. Some female students started to complain that someone kept touching them in the middle of the night, but no one ever saw the person behind the mischievous acts. In fact, we were convinced it was a ghost since we couldn’t catch anyone no matter how hard we tried to keep watch. Female students were so scared to go to bed, we started arming ourselves with sticks and “legelege” (cutlass). Eventually, some teachers and male students decided to set a trap for the perpetrator. The exact details are fuzzy now, but we found out it was a male kitchen staff who’d been sacked but was still hanging around the school premises.

“A dark figure inside our room” — Temi*, Babcock University High School

My bunkmate and I had just gotten back to the hostel after we were discharged from the school’s hospital. That night, a man in an all-black outfit and a black hat entered the girls’ hostel. For whatever reason, my bunk was his target. I remember seeing a tall figure in front of me. He smelt like an animal with a mix of grass and shit. I wanted to throw up, but there was no light, and I was too scared to leave my bed. The man pulled off his hat, dropped it beside my face and bent down to touch my bunkmate. By reflex, I vomited inside his hat, and this woke my bunkmate and some of my roommates up. My bunkmate screamed after seeing a dark figure bent over her, and he fled with his vomit-filled hat. Everyone woke up and started screaming too. The noise drew the attention of other rooms, and the whole hostel was in pandemonium, with people running to the courtyard. Some girls saw him try to escape from the hostel, some claimed to have met him on their way to the courtyard, but till I left the school, the person was never caught.

“The hall scatters itself overnight” — Gbemi* Mayflower School

When I was in JSS 1, my hostel was in front of the girls’ hall where the senior students had their night prep and other extra lessons. My window was quite close to this hall, and I was on the top bunk. After prep class, they clean the hall and lock it. But what I found strange was that around 1 a.m., the hall would start scattering itself. The benches and tables would smash against each other as though someone was there. It continued till I became a senior. We’d lock the hall, and the next morning everywhere would be scattered without any explanation.

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