I wonder, am I the only one concerned about these kids burning schools in Kenya? I mean, over 100 schools have been burnt this year alone. And the count keeps increasing.
Everyone is pointing fingers too. It’s the government, it’s the high handed Cabinet Secretary, it’s the school leadership, it’s politics, it’s the parents, it’s drugs, it’s social media, it’s peer pressure, it’s ISIS, or maybe even Donald Trump’s wall. Some get philosophical and say it’s a complicated mix of conditions caused by modern society that needs to be unpacked and analyzed. I don’t know what that last group of people mean.
I’m no expert and won’t purport to be. Like everyone else I have my own opinion on what could be the problem. I keep wondering, where are the parents of these children? And what are they doing about this situation?
I remember the one time in primary school that I had to call the chief in to school because I had misbehaved. I mean it wasn’t anything too serious. I wasn’t like that guy who stuck chewing gum in the hair of that Indian girl and got it into such a mess that she had to cut her long flowing locks. Hehe. That was funny. Poor Pooja. No. My crime was nowhere as diabolical. It was actually quite geeky come to think of it. I, together with three other of my classmates were accused of being class clowns and ‘derailers’ of the other students. Despite being top of the noise makers list, we always topped the class at the end of the examination period. We were misleading the entire class it was deemed. We were politicians in incubation. And so our class teacher got fed up and served us up to the Deputy Headmaster,who was aptly nick named, ‘Sticks’. And so to make an example of us and those with similar behaviours, our parents were summoned. Mum must have been away upcountry, because for some reason I had no choice but to tell the chief he was required at school.
I remember the terror I felt as I thought of how I’d communicate that message. I would rather have my teeth pulled. That long bus trip home from school. I wrote my eulogy on that bus. Edited and spell checked. I couldn’t even chat up pretty Sonia, sitting there looking resplendent in that girl guide uniform. Exposing those yellow nubile thighs. It wouldn’t matter. I wasn’t going to be on this earth for very long. She deserved someone committed, someone who would be there for the long haul. I was too busy wondering how I’d look in a casket.
When I finally got home, it took all of 64 hours to get round to telling the chief he needed to accompany me to school the next day. I had to wait until he’d watched the last news bulletin and that Muslim guy on KBC had given his final message for the day. My last rites perhaps.
I stammered away and told him what happened. The chief, not the Muslim guy. Keep up. In true chief fashion, he mumbled something and asked me to be ready in the morning and with that he went silent and continued reading the paper.
I didn’t sleep a wink. Not out of guilt for what I had done, but rather from the fear of being smothered in my sleep by the chief. I hid my pillow in case I dozed off.
The fact that I’m writing this means I survived the ordeal. I still remember that fear though. That heart wrenching dread of impending doom. That sense of disappointment that I had let the chief down. Dragging him away from his civil servant job to attend to issues of an ill disciplined son. A thankless son. An insolent disappointment that he had sacrificed his earnings to educate. I still remember the look of disapproval on his face. I can still hear that silence that came after I reported myself to him. That and the national anthem playing as KBC wound down. Like a state funeral.
If I was a student in 2016, my crime could have been worse. I could have been part of a group of kids who decided to torch their classroom. Or dormitory. I could have been the lookout guy as my schoolmates doused the building with petroleum, or kerosene. Or I could have been the guy sent to steal the matches from the kitchen, or the lighter from the watchman. Or I could have been the mastermind behind the whole scheme. The brains of the outfit. All this to get to go home for the holidays because it has been dictated that we stay an extra two weeks in school? Even if we succeeded and the school was closed, I would never be able to go home. To the chief’s house? Ha! I’d rather burn with the physics books and mattresses.
100 schools and counting? Assuming culpable groups of about 20 students per school. That’s 2000 kids. Where are the parents in all of this? Where are the parents of these 2000 kids? Or are they the kind that negotiate out of court settlements? For sure the chief would not be in that group of parents. He’d probably pay the judge to hasten my sentencing. He’d then seek out the architectural layout of the prison,tattoo them on his body, break into the prison disguised as a prison warden and kill me himself.
Now, I know every story, like hips, has two sides. And probably the issue is more than you and I know. But maybe, just maybe, if we had more chiefs the count wouldn’t be 100 schools, and counting.