Joe Munuve was that wonder-boy from the slum of Kitui who got expelled from school because he refused to attend church. Then he wrote me an email, hosted him here days later with that unbelievably well written piece. Well, things happened to him after that, great things. He’s back in school now courtesy of someone who read his story here and decided to sponsor him. That person has since begged anonymity. I called Joe up a few days ago (through his headmaster’s cellphone) requesting him to allow him to use the school’s computer to write a note to you, as per his request. This boy is still amazing.
It’s about 7:20 pm and prep’s just started. Nobody’s reading, though. We were at some school for a debating session but from the stories flying about, you’d think we had gone for a jam session. Parents, that’s where your kids go to every Sunday afternoon. The room stinks of hormones and lies. Its open season for imagination. Teenage imagination, the most sensational of them all.
Kevo is telling everyone how he had some girl give him a lap dance. It’s all I can do not to burst out laughing. I was seated behind the guy and his, ummh, what’s the word? Woman of the day. I won’t describe her. Suffice to say that she wouldn’t beat the ‘jamaneni serikali saidia’ lady in a beauty contest.
It was impossible not to eavesdrop on their conversation. The girl is his neighbor at ocha and she was giving him all the details about their miraa plantation. Through out the whole session, they kept on conversing in rapid Meru and when the music came on and Kev tentatively asked her to dance, she started, ‘Aihhh… mimi sinjui kumbanju !’ I had no idea he was being given lap dances in his head.
The rest of them, the ones whose imaginations aint slick are slumped on their lockers, dead asleep. It could be fatigue or they are overfed with chapattis. Yep, we eat chapattis here, and there’s no white porridge in the morning. Fancy that. It’s an ultra modern school with all the facilities that even the staff quarters back at my former school couldn’t dream of. Showers, flash toilets, computers, the works.
Almost everyone comes from Nairobi and you can bet your bottom dollar I didn’t score any points by saying that I was from K-town and laughingly correcting them that the ‘K’ didn’t stand for Kisumu or Kiambu but Kitui. The looks they gave me you’d think I’d said I was from Sarajevo. It didn’t help matters either that besides witchcraft and dog eating, my people have added refusal to take polio vaccine to their list of absurdities.
Had many questions to answer afterward. Some genuine, a few absurd and others outright stupid.” How many days does it take to travel to Nairobi? Do you guys also drink dog milk or do you rear them strictly for meat? I heard that charms and amulets are sold in the market alongside vegetables, is it true? It didn’t end there. During the lessons when there’s mention of FGM or drought, all eyes immediately turn toward me. It was annoying at first but I’ve gotten used to it now.
The guy next to me is singing Chris Brown’s “loyal” and I smile involuntarily. A year ago in a prep like this the song being sung would have been’ kitunguu ni mukangile ‘by Vyusya Ungu or something as demented. Having come from a rural public school where everyone has names like ‘Mbakuli’ and ‘Mulavai’, this place makes a nice change I daresay.
It’s a private school-private spells money. Private cars, private jets, private parts. Most of them are moneyed or rather their parents are. The rich kid syndrome is so heavy in the air you can grasp it.
For the first time in my life, I’m faced with solitude not imposed upon me by choice but situation and I now understand class-consciousness. In my former school, I was some sort of authority when it came to sophistication and stuff. Here, I’m an authority on country life, the ocha kid. Don’t get me wrong, the guys are great and there’s no discrimination but there’s the sense of “un-belonging” and its eating at me.
After I was expelled from my former school, I was on the verge of giving education the finger and finding another key to success
and I could have, mind you, had it not been for the ‘Meet Joe Black‘ piece that Biko ran on this blog, rather the old one, it jolted me awake. Everyone was telling me to stick my ass in school and them comments made me realize that if I were to send education to hell, it would take me with it. We were tied to each other.
That got me scared and with my tail in between my legs, I went to my former principal and begged him to take me back. His words were clear. He told me in no uncertain terms that he couldn’t admit me even to save himself from piles. Not that I’m that bad, he just stereotyped me after he learned where I lived and embarked on a mission to kick me out. When he got me into the cross hairs, there was no way I could wiggle out.
The only other viable option was joining a day school a stone throw away from home since gramps couldn’t pay the admission fee required to join a boarding school but it also brought with it a host of problems. Since its inception, nobody’s ever got above C+ in that school. It’s in Majengo and to put up a school in Majengo is akin to putting up a church in Mecca. Even if I completed the fourth form and got me the C+, what then? The college fees would still be impossible to pay.
I was in a limbo, stuck in the bog of indecision and hopelessness. I knew I had to complete my studies and go to campus. That was the only ticket out the ghetto, it’s always been. The only question was how. It was a question whose answer I didn’t have. I was in this state of despair when the call came. The one that changed my life. Someone wanted to take me back to school, all expenses paid. They had my story in this very blog and were extending a helping hand.
We all hear of miracles and divine intervention but it takes one to know one. I can’t capture the feeling in words, as I would like to. I was lost for words, like really dumbstruck. It isn’t often that I lack something to say but then there are things I’ve never imagined happening. I didn’t want to believe it but it was true. Someone was giving me a second chance. I cried for the first time since class three. For real, them tears welled up in my eyes and rolled down my cheeks. To date, I don’t think they understand the enormity of the impact that single action had on my life. It was the answer to my one prayer.
Rejunevated, I began school hunting. My discipline record wasn’t all that good and the principal had said as much in the leaving certificate so it wasn’t that easy to get a school. Also, it didn’t make it any easier either that I wanted to join fourth form and most schools had already registered. These, however, were small obstacles and I wasn’t about to let them bar my way. After a frantic search I ended up at Mackenzie Education Centre and that’s where I am as I pen this.
Looking around I realize I have a lot to be thankful for. If there’s one thing I’ve learned is not to take anything for granted. It’s nothing short of a miracle that I’m here. When I wake up at three and find am the only one, I don’t take it as a cue to go back to bed. Rather, I see it as an incentive to wake up earlier and bury myself in books. These other guys have a right to sleep all the way till noon if they wanted to. They earned it. They are here legitimately so to speak. As for me, I’m an intruder, a foreigner and I’ll be damned if I slip into their nonchalance and forget even for a second where I’m coming from.
I have a new outlook toward life. I’m no longer the uncaring bastard out against the world. I used to be loud mouthed, talking down anyone who crossed my path and hating on people who had had life hand them grapes complete with the wine presser. I used to feel like I couldn’t be what I wanted to be because I wasn’t born into it. I’m no longer that angry kid. I’ve learned to be patient and humble; I’ve learned to take life as I come, live it one second at time.
Positivity has begun flowing into my life. My bro, who after finishing the fourth form just lay about, has found himself a sponsor and is now in campus. My other bro is done with drugs and has landed a job in Qatar. It’s all piecing together.
To get to where I am, I’m indebted to a lot of people: God, my sponsor, my family, Bikozulu and lastly to you who’s reading this and even though it hardly covers the depth of my gratitude let me just say it. Thank you.
[Photo credit: Grammarchic]