High School pt.I

The phrase “high school” in ulaya triggers images of cheerleaders, boys called ‘Shep’ (say what?), and teenies eating endless burgers, fries and shakes (‘meet me in Wimpy, babe’). Lakini kama uko Kenyan the words ‘high school’ zinatrigger mamemories, smiles, winces, nightmares. Kweli you know what kind of chuo Oliver Twist attended.

Yenyewe the day our KCPE results were announced … heh heh heh, I remember it crisply and clearly. To say that nilikuwa anxious is an understatement sana, na yani they would hang everyone’s results on a noticeboard, kama bus timetables at KenCom. By that time (before mitihani) we’d all chosen our desired shules – unless of course for those who’d be fast-tracked by way of kitu kidogo, au wale ambao akina private chuos like Muso, Kanda, Saints, were their destination (I hear walijienjoy sana). Hakuna ku-hate.

As for us we chose sijui one national and four provincials. Woe unto you if you lived outside Nai, many of the provincials outside were kidogo woboho/rough.

Baada ya KCPE results wakina headi na deputy headi of high schools would go to chagua their desired students; the higher up the chuo on KCSE results league tables, the more choice of students they had. By the time akina Kaloleni High and Ndumberi Secondary fikad to chagua, all the swots had been kamatwad.

Maze when I heard I’d gotten into my first choice provincial (a certain prison barracks), aaah watu wote walinicongratulate sana, yani it was like such a big deal. Ignorant and unaware of what awaited, niliwaste those holidays kabisa, ati I couldn’t wait to anza chuo. I hang out at Metho (swima), went to 20thC cinema kidogo, lakini I didn’t make full use of those holls. Heh heh, big mistake.

Haya basi, opening day. Already mumenunuliwa all the things on the list – akina bloomers and legwarmers. Hah hah, mambo gani hayo? Hata “brazierre” were on the list. Na pia we had blueband, jam, tomato sauce, Marie biscuits, fruit. Baass. Shule ianze. The prefos greeted us like we were long lost relatives, kumbe it was all an act for the paros. Woiye.

When supper time came that’s when us borm-ones started angaliaing each other ati ‘what have we gotten ourselves into?’ Namwambia that first supper ilikuwa marrow – na sio kama ya home, ati with mkaangiko and onions or roiko. That marrow was boiled beans and maize and potatoes. Kwisha maneno. Hardly a borm-one ate more than a couple of spoonfuls. They should have had a standby dentist, ‘cause those mahindi were ngumu like stones. We were shangaaing ati form twos, threes, fours, were kaukaring their plates, hata they went for seconds. Maze a year on we also kaukad our plates and went for seconds.

We’d already wekad our luggage in the dorms. The dorms were actually colourful, for some reason. And they were on 5 floors – or was it 4? Carrying a bucket of water up the stairs was no furaha. I shangaa ati no one torokad through the windows, even though you could ona the outside world for like a mile around.

Once the gates were closed, michezo kwisha – “now that we’re alone” – like those sinister characters in movies who turn into Freddie Krueger once everyone else leaves. Hata the watchies and their mbwas had a conspiratorial gleam in their eyes.

Form, 2-4s were like ati we had pice, but we just nyamazad. After supper, we acquainted ourselves with fellow borm-ones, hata some quoros were formed there and then. Yani we were so excited. That evening, we were called for a meeting by the prefos – the “cops” (sameheni, it’s giving police a bad name). Ahh they were wabaya. Whoever said ati ‘power corrupts absolutely’ juaad that mambo. Jameni the head-prefo stood there like “err we have no rule book, so we can’t tell you what the rules are. But ignorance is no defence. If you are caught breaking a rule, you will be punished.” We were like yeah-yeah whatever, tutahandle any rules. Leta hiyo. Ha!

Get caught on the lawn – get booked. Get caught not running when the bell rings – get booked. Get kamatwad not having done ‘duty’ vizuri – get booked. Come Sato you’d spend the afte like some Kamiti convict, slashing the nyasi or suguaing the pavements ‘cause of all your bookings.

Daily schedule ilikuwa as follows: kengele at 5.30 a.m (imagine that - some of us we hadn’t really onad nchi ya Kenya at that hour before; yani by sunrise, kitu 6.30, we were awake like owls). Weh-seh, if you had outstanding homework, you endad class at 5.30-6.00 to maliza it. By sijui 6.20 if you were patwad in the dorms, unless you had ‘duty’ there, you were booked haraka sana. ‘Duty’ was unpaid labour, everyone had 2-3 ‘duties’ a day – from cleaning the vyoos, maintaining the dorms, sweeping class, laying out breakfast … bla bla the whole shabang. Kwani hakuna child labour laws in Kenya? Ministry of Manpower Development ilikuwa wapi itutetee??

Breakfast was perpetually tea and bread, or porridge. When I say ‘tea’ and ‘porridge’, natumia those words loosely. Anyone would have thought kuna shortage ya tea leaves au maize flour, the way they rationed them. Eurrggh, I couldn’t stand tea for many years. I’m so glad they didn’t serve coffee, ‘cause bad tea is one thing, but bad coffee is going too far. As for maize porridge, the thought of hiyo inani-make queasy. Pia Bournvita siwezi kuistand.

People would miminya blueband and jam on the bofuro slices – they were like an inch thick, and you juad mpaka lunch hakuna any other food. We used to wish our chuo was like those other boarding schools that kubalishad grub, lakini the Austrian nuns who ran it semad ati bringing grub would promote inequality. If that was so, kwanini those nuns ate like Henry VIII? We used to be tormented by the harufu of their three-course meals, aah it was just torture having nothing but dissolved cabbage and ug in your stomach na hao nuns wanajienjoy without wasi wasi.

Although the food was mbaya, we form-ones had many more things to get used to. Little did we know that we’d spend everyday after the mwanzo of a term counting off the days left till midi or end-of-term. Little did we jua that those 4 years would crawl by like a mkokoteni stuck in traffic in Nyama-Kima. Little did we imagine that a chuo, a high school, could have so many politics (some of us dreamt of a revolt, Che-Guevara style, lakini wapi?), campaigns (wannabe-prefos sucking up to teachays), malice (a.k.a. ‘manje’), stress (hata wengi walipata ulcers), ahh just ngojea I unleash in High School part II.


At 2:59 pm, Blogger Msanii_XL said...

say it isn't so? you back?

Nice to have you back

At 3:09 pm, Blogger Msanii_XL said...

Ok now that i have read the post, how come you forgot the metal boxex? mine solid blue/teal..true story

some of was lucky to have tea and bread, but when it comes to worse food, it went from good to worse in flash, (after i mentioned to the old guy that i wanted to transfer) i think "I" hold that "crown", can anyone say carbs 24-7? simple line-up, Uji, Murram, Murram.

Damn you to all the prefo's still carrying on the grudge...he he he.

great post! and again nice to have ya back

At 7:08 pm, Anonymous Guessaurus said...

that anonymous message was for Msanii from me!

At 7:51 pm, Anonymous Guessaurus said...

Oh good,good to have you back. This post has taken me far back - you forgot the weevils in murram - I couldnt believe first time that we were meant to eat that - with their 'eggs' or whatever they were. Jeez, by second term, you knew when to cast them aside and eat them. And when there was maize shortage, they gave us the 'sweetcorn'(yellow) variety that we were told was meant for horses. damn damn

Aside: Do you know that people in the UK dont know about white maize, some have never seen it and dont know where it comes from.

Great great post!

At 9:07 am, Anonymous m said...

Welcome back! Great reminisces!!

At 7:17 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brilliant! Have you thought about writing a book? You ought to. You are extremely talented.

At 3:42 pm, Anonymous Memoire said...

Asanteni everyone for the welcome back messages, of course siwezi kuresist somaring y'alls blogs and I've enjoyed keeping up to date with them all along. Keep up your great work, and keep blogging.

Those of you on home soil hebu tafadhali vote on Monday. Us "youths" need to represent our votes. The day the Kenyan prezzo will wear a ngepa and sagging jeans will be the day kweli hahahaha can't wait

@Msanii_xl: ha ha yani those boxes could wound someones miguus. Can you imagine how heavy all our luggage was what with blanketis, packets of Omo, and whatnot. As for prefos I kumbuka them with bitterness, Lord help our nchi those people never get in the gova.

@Guess: yep that yellow maize was bitter, they give it to wanyama in Stato ranches. I've bought it kidogo but it's too bitter. Weevils... ah jo I wonder what akina UN would say about that diet!!

@M: asante sana!!! I love your writing as always (ps the 'Live Eight' special just had me falling over in stitches)

@Anon: thanks for your complement :-) and welcome

At 9:26 pm, Blogger Prousette said...

Really good to have you back, we are voting hard on Monday to ensure no octogenetians become prezzo ever again wishful thinking but does not hurt to try.
lol@ dissolved cabbage in your alimentary canal if anyoine missed kenyan bording schools there is sure a big chapter missing in their book of life
Lovely post

At 7:37 am, Anonymous Nick said...

Say it isnt so..and i didnt even get a memo on your return! are u back for good my dear? Werrocamu Werrocamu..and sit downy!!!

Haiya and who is this High and Mighty anonymous blogger up here???

At 10:59 am, Blogger Memoire said...

@ Prousette: for real, I know only cops can ever miss chuo haha at the "chapter missing in their book of life"

@ Nick: wha-wha Nick's in the house! Welcome sana sana, u jua you are the original reminiscer so feel free to unleash memories

At 2:57 pm, Blogger nick said...

oh yeah now that you are back ebu we do a ka collabo...was thinkin of talkin bout progs of 91-92 in my other new blog www.nichgich.blogspot.com..so when u feel like it hola or on any other post...tuende kazi

At 11:05 am, Blogger Adrian said...

yani you're back and i'm number 13?!! (don't care about the multiple posts, i only see the unlucky number 13!!)

this should have been on cnn's breaking news!

since i only fikad std 6, the only thing i can say is "welcome back"!!

looking forward to more memories.

At 6:50 pm, Blogger Memoire said...

@ Nick: sawa, yani that timeframe (91-92) is precise kabisa, I kumbuka more KTN progis and hardly any KBC ones (kumbuka how, hata bila good reception, KTN was the one)

@ Adrian: aahh karibbu sana Adrian, yani kusema you jua all that Swaha and have all those memories hata having left Kenya so young? Props sana kwako.

As for breaking news... Oranges have won. It's back to the drawing board wananchi, hopefully no riots or scuffles

At 7:02 pm, Blogger Couch 'tato said...

id watch neighbours with a shitty reception remember akina des daphne max and his 2 sons danny and shane who had a diving accident...jim and his children paul lucy julie and scott and am not talkin about jason donovan am talkin bout the acne faced original scott

do this start compiling progys that era and u had better have North and South

At 3:07 pm, Anonymous Memoire said...

@ Couch'tato: hahaha who witnessed a TV repair man risking his life to climb the roof and adjust a reluctant KTN arial?? As for neighbours, Joe is back !! (err at least I think that's his name)

At 6:01 pm, Blogger Poi said...

Hhheheh I'm floored kabisa can't blieve I catch myself this late hapa yani. Vile I used to drop by kila siku to see if umeguzwa ukatu-update bana but it's all good. So nice to have you back Memoire, hope you are here to stay(for now)

Hhhehehhe fo those high school memory bells you got ringing ni sawa tu. Yani you don't know nothing, eti 1st wake-up bell was 5:30am? na unaunasema iyo ni early maze my shule the mattie was huko ringing the friggin electric thingy at 4:45am, scrum for bathrooms like whoa! Then you fika the mess and find someone vukad with you breako.

But at least my shule grub was allowed, though limited, but still better half loaf than none.

Of prefos aahhh don't even remind me coz bado tuna unsettled scores kabisa.

You are SUPERHILARIOUS n I'm so glad you back to blogging you just made my monday.

Happy Week!
Off to reading the part II..

At 12:13 pm, Anonymous Memoire said...

@ Poi: wacha yani you guys got awoken at 4.45? Ai, yani I wonder why they had to wake students so early, only for classes to begin at 9 kama primo.

- hebu if anyone went to National Youth Service, ambiya us how it was. If boarding school was harsh, I've heard NYS was like 4 years of boarding rolled into 3 months, with added caning and running

At 5:37 am, Blogger Wambui said...

I had honestly sahaud that white maize existed. I was sad I missed out on boarding skul lakini now am thinking otherwise

At 4:05 am, Anonymous ex.....Pberian said...

You have captured the essence of PB hell...it is hilarious remembering all this stuff...like Duty..dread that word to this day..

At 5:48 pm, Anonymous Memoire said...

@ Wambui: sweetcorn seems really popular in ulaya but one can't really make akina marrow or mukimo with it!!

@ ex pberian: Ati "ex"? Remember the refrain "once a pberian always a pberian?" ha ha. I hate the word 'duty' too, and hate chores still. Have you checked out graduates.com? Loadsa pberians have registered.


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