This has been inspired by Kambua and Wibroda, my high school classmates, who have written about their experiences .
I wanted to write it as one story, but in the middle, I realized I wasn’t explaining a lot of things. Which leads it to being a series, that begins here.
I was promised a flight from Nairobi to Mombasa if I got 420 marks out of the impossible 500. I mean, who has ever gotten 499 or 500? So why do they say possible 500 marks? I still think its impossible because I hear that the most you can get is 99 in some subjects. Anyway, back to the promise my mum was giving me on behalf of my father. This was on prayer day barely a month to KCPE.
I had worked hard. To my level best. I am not part of those candidates who woke up at 3am to read. And anyway, in the zone my primary school was located, for that year, we never had electricity 70% of the time. We were severely affected by the transformer gangs who kept on stealing the transformer we depended on even after countless replacements. What that meant, is that the whole school, including class eights used to sleep at 6pm and wake up at 6am. At around third term, we were bought some big torches that used battery to help us read at night preps.
I was index one. My average for the year was 420 marks. The school expected nothing more or nothing less. They had been accurate before. My only expectation was that I pass well enough to go to Precious Blood Riruta. It was the best school according to me. I had never heard of the likes of Pangani girls or Moi Girls. We had been told Alliance Girls was beyond us. It only took the number ones in the districts. Or girls with 430marks and above. I had never thought of my myself district wise or even getting 430.
As the exams approached, I remember praying sincerely to God. Not those arm twisting kind of prayers like if-you-do-this-for-me-i-will-do-this-in-return. I simply asked God to bless the work of my hands. And placed my future into His hands. There is a song that goes like this
Najua Bwana, anatengeneza njia/
Na anatengeneza njia/
Njia kwa ajili yangu.
(I know the Lord is making a way, and he is making a way for my sake)
I remember singing that and believing every word it says on the weekend challenge we had in class eight third term. That was my honest prayer to God. That He would pave a way for me in the way only He knows is best for me. I don’t remember praying to get to Precious Blood Riruta or any other school. I left that to God.
But that did not dim the surprise or rather deep shock I got when I was called to Alliance Girls. One or two weeks before, the results had been announced. And I had missed my first flight by 2 marks. I kept on remembering questions I might have answered wrongly. But it was too late. I was happy for my parents. My dad especially, he kept on parading me everywhere he went. His daughter had made him proud. And I was relived that I hadn’t failed my school, or my parents. They deserved a win after all they had invested in me.
But from the moment I heard that I had been called to Alliance Girls, the school I had never even spared a thought for because it was above me, I couldn’t keep calm. I just could not believe it. I had known deep inside my heart that God would answer my prayers, just didn’t know He would do it this mightily. I was flabbergasted to say the least.
We did get complications preparing or not preparing for High school. Majorly because my calling letter had not yet arrived a week to the reporting date. That meant we didn’t know how much school fees was required or even what things I was supposed to buy. But it arrived the day my father had decided to go for another one from the school. It seems posta did not understand the urgency or the importance of that letter that crawled in its systems all the way from Nyandarua to Mtito Andei. We prepared majorly on the last two days to school. Bought the things we could at home, while the rest we bought on the actual reporting day.
When we arrived, I convinced my dad to remove my shopping from the carton box they had been packed into, to the mettalic box we had bought. Sikutaka aibu. I thought it would be “ushamba” to come to this great school with my things in a carton box.
But besides the way I didn’t want to be perceived, I knew nothing about this school. Literally nothing. I only knew it was the best school, a girl in Kenya could school in.
What that means is that I went there with a clean slate. The slate being my mind. I had no expectations whatsoever of how things should be or should be done in the school.
And that not knowing anything, is what I suspect made my first term experience differ completely with everyone else. I met a cousin I had met five years earlier at home on the first day of reporting. She was very excited to see me. I also met a girl who had joined our school in class six, and besides the first exam, she had pushed me to position two for the whole damn year.
But the most excited human being to see me,was this form two chick I had never met before. She found me in the last segment of having our clothes marked. And hugged me like we were long lost friends. Apparently, my dad had seen her holding a placard with my name on it. I came to know that, that was a mother-daughter relationship that the school has kept alive to date. Every form one gets a form two as their mother, both from the same house.
The first two weeks were full of nothing and pure bliss. Nothing here meaning introductions. Being introduced to prefects, to the house, to the rest of the school, to the teachers, to literally everyone. Those two weeks also consisted of reading the dictionary, unless you were lucky enough to have found a deskmate like mine and noisy front desk mates like ours.
The first time I entered the class I found three quarter of brilliant girls quietly seated. I say brilliant because almost all girls that had been on TV were there. And to make matters worse they had occupied all front rows. I made my way to the back, to find another girl asking me if I had a desk mate. We paired up (literally and figuratively) for the rest of my time in high school. In between we were separated just to find a way back as each other’s deskmates every single time. Figuratively, we are still best friends till now. Some girls from Makini school sat in front of us. Since they knew each other, at least for the first two weeks, they were rarely quiet. And that entertained us. Plus, we hit it off with my deskmate. And that is how i ended up not joining the dictionary bandwagon.
And then work happened. Form ones were the ones to scrub the toilets and the haddest floors anywhere. The school system was such that, the workload became easier the higher up we went. We had brought gloves and scrubbing brushes and working pails as part of the requirements. My friends hated work with all they had. Some, especially those from prestigious primary schools cried their hearts out when they scrubbed the hard tiles for the first time. For the daily chores, I was assigned the house toilets together with my fellow form one cubemates. I didn’t mind. A friend of mine usually reminds me of how when she used to complain on how she wouldn’t want her daughter there doing the work she was doing, I wanted mine to come and experience the exact same thing. In primary school, we used to work.I was the school captain (surprised?), so my job was majorly supervising. But all the same, work wasn’t that new to me. I mean, who did we expect to keep clean were we lived?
But by the end of that term, at least half of the girls didn’t want to be back. They had numerous complains.
As for me, I had found heaven. Plus I never entertained any thought of being elsewhere. When you are in the best school your country can offer you, which other place would you want to go to? Si that will be like a demotion? I was a happy form one.
Let’s not even talk of the inter-house competitions. At the end of first term, there would be a replica of the music festival competition. Except that this time, it would be between the 9 houses. It was compulsory for form ones and twos to take part. The administrating committee was from form three. Form fours used to wait for the actual day and sample what all houses had to offer. That meant that we practiced every night after the evening preps.
We had never participated in music festival or any other competition in my primary school. So this was entirely new to me. I used to enjoy the practicing sessions. The next day I would come with tales of what happened last night to my deskmate. She on the other hand loathed them. She preferred her sleep to dancing folk songs over and over or zilizopendwa songs. I was so disappointed when my uniform for the folk song was not made by whoever was making them on time. That meant I didn’t sing yet we won. But I took part in the rest with all the zeal I could get.
To say the least, I started my high school on a very very high, happy and excited note.
Over the next three years, a lot would happen in between. Some tearful moments, others embarrassing, others entertaining, others out of this world while others are simply there. Stay tuned for the next chronicles…