If am not wrong, Mobimba is a Lingala word meaning big or whole. It’s used by a select few. Ask around and you shall be told; look around and you shall see.
Ambira High School, is among the select few. For those not in the know, I will do you a favour. lemme give you a brief info about this Mobimba school. Are you serious you don’t know Ambira, ‘Mopepe’? Like seriously? I don’t get it! Okay, for your information: Ambira High School is located in the current great Siaya County, Ugunja Constituency; now Ugunja is a small-big town along Kisumu-Busia Highway. At Ugunja town, take a left turn on a murram road … if you are from Kisumu that is…or take a right turn if you are from Busia. It’s about 3km off the highway. You will then notice the school’s signboard on your right, just adjacent to the beautiful school gate. Next to the gate there is a stone with the writings:’ WELCOME BUT IF YOU HAVE DECIDED TO FAIL, DON’T ENTER’. The Stone was put up rather hurriedly, the Principal ( Olonde, official name Barnabas Omondi Wanga) had thought of it while he was giving a speech and threatened to put it in writing by the gate. Suprisingly, the next day saw MchakaMchaka,the school’s groundsman by then, busy moulding the stone.
Okay, from the gate there’s a humble driveway… lined with floodlights and a manicured low hedge … that leads into the expansive school. On the right and left from the gate are teachers’ quarters. The drive proudly takes a right turn farther as it borders a field on the left with a posho mill and workshop on the right. By now you can see an awesomely built administration block beyond the field on your left. Further ahead of you in the drive way, is the garage that houses the great Akamba Bus aka Ambira Yellow. The last small building on your right is the school canteen. The drive then majestically takes a left turn boldly crossing through the two school fields as you can now see. At this point I know something has caught your attention, you want to ask what it is, right? The Great Hall on the right, by the side of the second field, it’s the biggest and one of its kind in the whole county. Now, that is BIG. Everything about this school is big, Mobimba.
That big mango tree right in front of you is the minor assembly ground, used on Wednesdays and evenings. On the left in front of the Administration block is the Main assembly; paved and with nice flower arrangement. Then I hope you can now see that green park beyond the minor assembly, that is the famous ‘Quardy’… it is a sacred ground and a chill spot on weekends..
Now Ambira High School, since history, has one of the loudest and rowdy students you could ever find. Find them anywhere in uniform or not, you can easily identify them ; there’s something about them, from the way they dress,walk or talk, the confidence and stillness in their eyes.
“When I admit students to this school, they are very naive and humble. A month into the school, they are hawk-eyed!” lamented Olonde one day, he was getting weary by day.
“Wavutaji bangi!!” he always barked, at times wagging his whip. With his agility and manner in which he ran after boys at dawn; he was more of a bang smoker. In my opinion, he was the right match for the students.
Now, this school had(or still has) a unique lingo and a way of doing things that you had to get initiated to, unique to the core. From the dormitory, to the kitchen and even in classrooms. You couldn’t help but fall in love with this school. Things were taken seriously, but not really serious. For example you could easily get out of school and back, either through the gate or fence at will and still go scot free (I did this on numerous occasions).
“That your school is like a holiday camp. If you are not a serious student, you can’t pass,” complained my father one day, he had come to see the Principal but was surprised to find the school gate left open and no guard in sight, students wandering about.
We had one of the best teachers around, notably: Mr. Keya, students choice ; Mr. Ahomo, reptile ; Mr. Oluoch, mkono ya bigman; Mr. Abase, ever drunk; Mr. Opondo, mlor(Deputy Principal by then); Madam Lillian, painkiller and a host of others.
We had very capable omins (read cooks) who always made sure whole, ugali, was well cooked. Mixi… few pieces of meat and skuma wiki … was well prepared; and those who were lucky to be close to prefects or could do Usain Bolt magic to be the first in the queue, got a taste of moo – top layer. We had others who preferred to be the last in the queue, this were jo ngovo; and during preparations for games we had potato, githeri, served early in the morning after jogging.
The need for great muscles saw students joining weight lifting behind New Dorm – the largest dormitory, this were jo Glen. You will be amazed by the extent people went to gain muscles…
“Manze ukitaka kuunga vizuri, kunywa maji ya Omo (If you want to build muscles, drink a solution of Omo detergent),” a boy would claim. “For better results, mix it with raw eggs.” another would recommend. Magically, it worked.
Going for outings, game, was not something to be missed at all cost. Qualifying to go for game, meant game imeiva/imechiek and those who ran out of luck and remained behind were mocked, game imerot. Now, we had very cunny characters too ; those who would risk anything to attend an outing whether it was relevant to them or not, this were christened: Jo Game. Most notorious in my time was Samson Anyumba aka Nyumbres (I know he is going to kill me for this).
Jo Masada, cheering squad, was the school’s greatest asset during sports. They made it epic, they brought life into sports games. They were celebrated and you couldn’t help but marvel at the camaraderie that existed among them. They were noisy and loud, this is where you found boys like ; Usher Waga, the tall and dark guy; Jacob Oyeyo, macho moja; Brian Zirra, manyake(I’m in trouble now) ; etcetera. Feel free to add others. In fact, it was pure bliss watching this guy’s do there jigs, more fun when Mr. Abase and Mr. Kombo joined in. To prove how great and official this Masada movement was, they had an anthem:
Asiye heshimu Mobimba,
Shule ya marasta…. Went the slogan.
If there’s a place I ever wish to go back to or a time I pray I could revisit, is the time I spent in this school.
I miss how boys took a flight of terror to the canteen. I miss sambu, ndunya and I miss pocha more. I miss Olonde, Kopkop. I miss kuburo and noc. I miss passport and ku rust. I miss ku chew dry/wet. I want to enjoy mawega when parents come visiting.
Posted by Mr. Jagweng