Escape From Sabibor: Ambira Chapter.

Hope most of you have either heard of or watched the movie Escape From Sabibor. For those who haven’t, Sabibor was some kind of an incarceration facility, prison kind of. Inmates organised and broke out from the prison, it’s the concept from which movie series like Prison Break were born. Don’t tell me you haven’t watched that too, come on!

Watching a lot of these movies and with a teen mind can really misguide you, they forgot to warn; ‘please don’t try this at home or school!’, maybe it would have made me think twice before acting a movie in a school situation. I didn’t want to be a hero, I just wanted to have my ‘freedom. Freedom that I didn’t know what to do with. Maybe it was just the urge to rebel, maybe I just wanted to prove to myself that I was smart or maybe daring. Still, I don’t know why I did it. Where was I going? Was it worth it? Maybe yes maybe not. I loved revolting, just like any high school teen. I was a smooth operator. I had two personalities; I was utter quiet and humble in class but noisy and jumpy in the dormitory. This helped a lot. Nobody really knew me…

“Wewe ni nyang’au ndani ya ngozi ya kondoo!” my Principal screamed, he was irritated by my always calm and innocent look. It was plain that he couldn’t read any guilt. He was not alone, the same sentiments were shared with my Primary school headteacher ( Bevis you remember that day in class eight?). Maybe I’m a big pretender I don’t know.

Sorry I got off track…

I had just joined Ambira High School, after a transfer from another school. Things seemed different, it was the opposite of my former school. My former school was strict but we had visiting days on ever Sunday, we had a half term break and when schools closed, we went home and came back after four days for our holiday tuition and then we went back home four days before schools reopened. When schools closed for the April holiday, we were given time to go home but were to report back for holiday tuition, this I had no problem with and I came back as required. Even my previous school did that. I loved every bit of this…the freedom, a hilarious Principal, water was in abundance as opposed to the former plus we didn’t wash latrines…and I synced into the system pretty fast.

However, something irked me that made my inner revolt spring up! There were rumours, rumours about us continuing through to next term without having a break. It was now a week to the end of the school April holiday. The rumours became so profound and later a teacher confirmed this to us during a lesson. This was bad news for I had not brought enough supply to last me through the term, I had to do something. I had an action plan. It had to be executed fast. First action, I enquired from friends if they had enough supplies, perfect. It was easy to convince them to sneak out of school.

It was on a Monday, the last week of the the holiday and already I had a dozen number of boys willing to come with me. News spread about this and you could see groups of boys huddled together talking in low tones, talking about escaping. My boys and I had planned to to sneak out on Wednesday night but when I gathered that other camps were also planning to to sneak out on the same day, I had a change of plan. We were leaving the next day night, Tuesday night. That’s where I made a mistake, a very big mistake. But still I had to go, there was no turning back. I thinned my group, we were now three, Joanes(form four), Rapela and I.

The escape.
Tuesday night. It was rainy and our escape plan was hampered but I decided we would leave the school at 3 am next morning so we went to bed, alarm set. When it rang, I sprang out of bed, it was activity time. The dice had been rolled. I went a head to wake up my boys and in a short time we were set to leave. When we stepped out of the dormitory door, it was dark no security light on, this was perfect. I scanned around and saw a flashlight at one end of the school, it was the watchman so we waited until he disappeared behind the classes and then we headed for the fence. It was so muddy. At the fence we did not waste time, we scaled the barbed wire and it almost ripped my pants. We didn’t have any light with us and it made it a tad difficult but we did it. We were now out of school, free at long last.

Joanes suprisingly, new the small paths through the village so he lead the way until we got to the tarmac. Our shoes heavy with mud.

“Boys, hope you’re ready for suspension coz it’s inevitable.” I joked, inside me I knew it wasn’t a joke. If the other boys too joined and made real their plan, teachers would easily discover.

“Haina noma.” Joanes responded with confidence. Rapela on the other hand kept quiet, maybe he had never thought of the consequences, he didn’t think about being caught. I was ready for anything.

It was a very cold morning, the school cardigan wasn’t adding any warmth but we had to go. After a walking for what seemed eternity due to the mud, we got to Ugunja. It was now some minutes past four and the small town was just waking up, busses from Nairobi were already dropping passengers. We found some kibanda already open and we settled in for some tea as we waited for the appropriate time to head home.

As I had predicted, a good number of boys had sneaked out of school and the Principal ordered for a rollcall. He gave out notice that all those who had sneaked out should go and pick up a suspension letter from his office. This news got to me when I was still at home. I decided to extend my opening and went back to school on a Thursday instead of Monday. I was reluctant to take any shopping because I knew I was coming back home but then again, I could not tell my parent. I left home on Thursday around 2 pm and when I got to Ugunja, I met a dozen boys most not in school uniform… Joanes was among them…they had been suspended. I joined them and they encouraged me to go and pick up my letter as they wait for me. I left my back pack with them and took a bodaboda to school. Olonde, the Principal, was there when I got to his office… He knew me and knew my father too.

“Umeona rafiki yako?”
“Yupi Mwalimu?”
“Wilfred Otieno Handas!”
“Bado sijamuona mwalimu.
“Bado hajakuambia venye nilikanyaga yeye?”
“Bado mwalimu!”
“Mama yake analia eti unaharibu kijana yake!”
“Si ukweli mwalimu.”
“Naambiwa wewe ndio ulipanga watu wahepe, sindio?”
“Hapana Mwalimu.”
“Nani alikuambia ukuje kuruka fence hapa?”
“Nilipitia gate Mwalimu!”
“Unataka kuniambia watchman wangu ni Mujinga?”
“La, nilipita kama night watchman ashaenda nyumbani.”
“Ooh! Sawa sawa.”

He hands me the letter and asks me to go straight home. Students were in classes and the school was so quiet, I felt like I was the only noise and disturbance in the compound. Out of the gate, I picked a boda. When I got to Ugunja, my boys were still waiting for me. We hanged around until 7pm, then I left for home. One thing worried me though, in the letter it was written: TO APPLY FOR RE-ADMISSION. This would kill my dad, I had been in the school for only a term and now this!

The suspension disturbed my old man so much that he went to the school the next day to see the Principal. Olonde agreed to handle my case on Monday. When the day came, dad woke me up so early ruining my sweet sleep. By 9 am we were already at Ugunja. Next to St. Michael Cafe, we meet Abong’o (form four 2006) with his shirt untucked and looking shaggy, and he goteas me.

“Was he also sent away with you?” my father enquired, we had walked a safe distance past Abong’o.

“Who?” I feigned ignorance and then he stopped and looked back at where Abong’o was. “Oh, him. I think he’s just opening school.” I responded vaguely but with finality. (Truth of the matter he was also on suspension). We took the corridor that goes between KCB Bank and the building that housed Corner Supermarket, down beside Dukes Bookshop and through to Pick N’ Pay Supermarket, along Ugunja – Ukwala road, for my shopping. We spent a couple of minutes at the supermarket and then we took a bodaboda to school.

By the time we got to the gate, my heart was pounding real hard, it was more of throbbing like one of those Roho drums. We walked into the school compound side by side but not conversing with my dad until we got to waiting lobby and took a seat.


This is the waiting lobby I'm talking about... Photo by Cleopa Timon Otieno

“Mujinga!” (twaaa! twaaa!)
“Mama, wewe ndo unatuma kijana yako kutusumbua!”(twaa! twaa!)
“Mvutaji bangi!” (twaa! twaa!) the Principal kept barking in the office.

There was some stillness in the air that was quite frightening. The whacking and barking went on and on. I felt the urge to sneak out, I wasn’t ready for this. I almost shit my pants. I wanted to visit the toilet. The whole lobby area was so tense and other parents seated with their sons on the couch, were mum. Heads dropped. Everyone was panicking, constantly tapping their shoes on the floor, and this terrified me more.

Suddenly, his door swang open and my heart almost gave up pumping. A woman walked out looking so sullen, with almost teary eyes, behind was Abong’o. The mother mumbled something as she walked past us.

“Next!!” Olonde shouted from his office.

I jerked from the couch and dad followed from behind. It was my moment of judgement. I wanted it to be done quick and pronto. This anxiety wasn’t doing me any good.

“Omera ukethona saa adwa dhi e meeting Siaya!” he exclaimed when we got in. “Janyuol, in ema ioro ja njagani mondo obi okethna nyithindo?” he continued in a more like screaming tone.

“Nyise orwak wiye e bwo kom!” he commanded, my father standing by the door dumbfounded.

I quickly followed the instructions. If you had ever been to Olonde’s office, then you probably know that metal couch that always had books and files on it. You had to lie down and then go under the couch in a manner that only your buttocks from the waist stuck out. From your waist to the head had to be under the couch.

Twaaaa! Twaaa! I felt a sharp pain cut through my buttocks like I had no pants on. I was sure I was bleeding. My butts felt so hot. The whacking and barking went on until I felt no more pain, my buttocks were so numb from the first two lashes of the whip.

“Kama imetosha unasema!” I finally heard him say.

When I came out from under the couch, I felt a little dizzy…

“Omera irwako chieth?!”he screamed – when I was getting up, my shirt untucked revealing a pair of boxer shorts(chieth) I had inside.

He gave me one last lash on the back that made me dash out of the door, he gave me no space, he was running after me and I even forgot to pick my shopping from the the lobby. I heard the secretaries burst into laughter.

I came back for my shopping later, and I never got a chance to bid my dad.

Posted by Mr. Jagweng


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