I don’t think this article needs an intro. So I’ll just get on with it.
He is born in the mid-nineties in a hospital somewhere in Eastleigh, Marie Stopes Hospital. After 6hrs of labor, he breaks out –or rather, he’s cut out– a rosy hearty 3.7kg babe ready to take on the world. He’s also more hairy than regular babies. It’s why his uncle will say he looks like a small black bunny. This will make mama a little livid ‘cause of the raging hormones running her body. The rest of the family understands him, this uncle. He’s the audacious loud obnoxious guy who says inappropriate things at the incongruous time. He drinks cheap liquor made from formalin. It’s said that the last time he was sober was at the time of the coup (Yes, there was once a coup in Kenya for all you light skins). But they love him. After all, he’s family.
I digress. This baby will grow up happy, like every other baby. For the first few days, he’ll be surrounded by men and women in white robes. He’ll have two best friends that will nourish him every time he cries. His only conundrum being too many people holding and passing him and making high-pitched, “awwwwww… he’s so cute” expressions and rubbing their noses in his chubby cheeks.
After a few days, he will be taken home – a new foreign land. He will get a new bed right next to his parents’. At this point, he will be drawn to this beautiful woman. He doesn’t know why, but the sight (or smell) of her makes him excited. He’ll later learn she’s called ‘mother.’ Some few years later, another woman will be introduced into the picture; of course, not as beautiful as mother. But he’ll love her too. Problem is, mother will start leaving him with her. He doesn’t like it. In fact, he loathes it. That is why he will cry every morning as mother opens the door to leave; a please-stay-with-me-here cry. But mama’s got to hustle. Under the ‘new’ mom’s watch, he will learn to walk and talk. He will learn to press the remote. He will learn the difference between the left shoe and the right shoe. He will learn to spit food if he doesn’t like it. He will learn that The Bold and The Beautiful is only for grown-ups like mother. He will learn to use the potty. He will also learn using the potty is a private affair and not even mother should watch him as he does his business. He will learn to conform to the ways of life.
Father – the only guy can pee standing up in their household – will notice all these betterments and decide it’s time kababa starts shule. It’s not the first time he’s heard of this shule thing. Mother asks his slightly older cousins how shule is. He’s never really been fazed about it. It’s a non-issue to him. Only thing that ever juggled his mind is if the 4pm porridge will be white or brown. He hates the brown. Now, this beast, shule, has tracked him down to his hideout (home) and wants to meddle with his 4pm uji. Father will come home one Friday night with some red attire and black shoes. He says they are called uniform. Apparently, shule wants me in this ugly ass regalia, he will think. Father says he begins Monday.
On that fresh nippy Monday morning, the help will wake him up earlier than usual. He won’t mind it though. He is excited about the new chapter he’s about to begin. Mother will dress him, they’ll have breakfast, and they’ll be off to shule.
Shule is a different cup of tea. Everyone is dressed exactly like him. There’s long pole with a multi-coloured cloth at the top (he’ll later be told it’s called a flag). Some fellas are running around with books. They look ridiculous with socks running up to their thighs. He will swear never to wear socks like that. It’s a new society altogether. A new folk with a miserable sense of style. He is introduced to another woman, Mrs. Kazungu. Mother says they’ll leave him with her and come for him later in the day. This is where all hell breaks loose. Why the hell would they leave me with a stranger? In a foreign land?! Did I do something wrong? Is it the other night when a kissing scene came on and I didn’t look away? I swear next time I’ll look away. He wants to say all these but he can’t. He’s busy trying to win the crying/screaming competition with other nippers who’ve been left to suffer the same fate as him. The winner being the one whose folks will feel pity on and take them back home immediately. Needless to say, they all lost.
Mrs. Kazungu will teach him everything he needs to know about pronunciations and spellings and colours. He will learn to write. He will learn to paint and model. He will sleep every afternoon where Mathenge, his mattress partner, will make it his sworn duty to pee their mattress every day that year. He will be passed on year to year to different Mrs. Kazungus as the syllabus advances. For the first six years of school, he will not understand why he has to wake up at ‘night’ to go to school. Sure, he loves kina Timo and Jose and their boorish comments about Rachael (the class diva), but does he have to wake up at 4 to go see them? It’ll be a maze he won’t comprehend for a while. Father will continue to insist that he needs the education to become rich and successful. But the success he knows is fighting Brandon (class asshole) and winning, at the end of the year.
At class 5, he’ll begin to comprehend the deeper meaning of success. He’ll see the pros and cons of the education system. But he’ll focus more on the cons. He’ll realize that the education system doesn’t guarantee success; a realization that will mislead him. His cousins in the university won’t help the situation. They’ll tell him that a lot of what is taught in school becomes irrelevant and useless in the university. In his mind, he will disregard the system. And he will fail miserably. He will be forced to repeat the class despite his protests but this time round, he will excel; like he used to back in kindergarten. No one actually failed in kindergarten lakini. He will finish primary school with some handsome mark and get a spot in a national school.
The disdain and lamentation of the system will not flee his mind. He will have them tacked away somewhere at the back of his brain. It will only come up when the bio teacher mentions something he’s never understood (and cared for) like carpals, metacarpals and tibia. But it won’t get in his way. He has to successfully pass through the system to pursue what he wants. Sad part is he doesn’t know what he wants – another con of our magnificent 31-year old standing 8-4-4 system. A system that focuses solely on books and cramming their content. A homogenous system that doesn’t bother with what abilities and talents you have but glorifies and worships grades and ticks and wrongs. It’s a perturbing system, this one.
He will reach his final year of high school and he will face that exam everybody dreads, including him. The results will come out and luckily again, he’ll have done well. But he still not certain about what he wants to do. He loves writing. He thinks he can play with words but he’s not sure. He wanted to join the Journalism club and curve his niche as the school magazine writer but the club was inactive. And also, he didn’t want to be the lame guy who’s in J-club. Si you know high school and how it’s about impressing everyone? His parents and relatives say that if he does a writing course say, Literature, he’ll have wasted a good grade. A misleading friend back in high school also mentioned that Literature wasn’t lucrative, that if he did it, he’d end up living in a bedsit all his life. So he decides to take on computer science because he passed ICDL. Hehe. But secretly, deep down, he wants to write. He wants to express himself with words. He oozes words. He breathes them too. He decides he will try and pursue it chini ya maji.
He will do the only thing people who think can write do. He will start a blog to see where it leads him. From what I hear, he’s never been more content with his life.