Mashujaa Day In Ambira High School!

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Principal Barnabas Omondi Wanga aka Olonde....Photo by Cleopa Timon Otieno

Mashujaa Day, initially Moi Day, is a special day in the Kenyan calendar, that is since the realisation of the New Constitution ; it was set aside to celebrate our heroes and heroines. A time to reflect on the steps we have made as a country since we gained self-rule. Until it’s new definition and change of name, Moi Day as it was previously referred to had no meaning or any relevance to us. Why the day was celebrated, I still can’t tell, but I just had to because I was born and found it being marked, how could I question it?

This Mashujaa Day thing, made me remember what happened a day like this; 20th October, 2006. It just hit me how time flies. Exactly eight years ago, I was a form three student at Ambira High School. Still getting a hang of high school life. A few months after the ‘Escape From Sabibor’ I told you about in my previous post. Something happened on this day, I don’t know if it was just sheer foolishness or narrow mindedness. There are things we do in high school that at times after school, when you sit down and recall, you realise they were stupid. They don’t change your life in any way.

Now, a few days before 20th, Elijah Nyatumba had approached me about a planned strike, scheduled for 21st October. He said that he would have loved to have me in the team since he had heard some stories about me from my former school (I don’t know what he meant). The fact that he was a prefect and a snitch, I knew this was a trap so I turned him down. I day before 20th, again I was approached by Roja and Vinny, in form two by then, about this same story, being I knew them and understood their squabbles with the school system, I gave in. I was informed there was a contribution towards buying of petrol, I was to part with Kshs 150 and being for a ‘worthy’ course, I agreed to give out the cash the next day, 20th.

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20th October, 2006.
This day being a holiday, we spent most of the day out of classes. Nothing serious going on. I was seated next to Form three blue with Samson Anyumba, Daniel Siata, Wilfred Bevis and a couple of other boys, just chatting away time; when Roja and Vinny appeared at the quardy, just opposite the block and beckoned me at a safe distance, they had come for my contribution. I gave out a two hundred shilling note and since they had no fifty shillings on them, they promised to bring back my balance (eight years later I still haven’t received it) as they were already leaving for Ugunja to get the petroleum, a jerican safely inside Vinny’s back pack. I never wanted to be deeply involved in this business so I always kept off. I was good at keeping secrets. Being at the forefront was a risk and I never wanted that, that’s not how I played my cards.

The day went just fine and I even had a talk with Roja and Vinny at supper time and forgot about my balance. After supper time, I decided to spend time at the Chemistry Laboratory, I was doing some song writing and I remember we were with Michael Dola all through. I never talked about this strike, I didn’t know who else was involved and I never wanted to know. It was none of my business, the only way I wanted to participate was financially, period!

At around 9 pm that night a boy came to the Lab and informed us that some boys had been caught trying to sneak into the dormitories to break into people’s boxes. This wasn’t news to me. By the time night prep was done, I walked towards the dormitories (I slept in Elgon, the first door after Capital; New Dorm) but I noticed boys huddled in groups, a sign there was something more than just a break-in. At the entrance of New Dorm there was another group, look of fear in their eyes.

“Naskia walikua washanunua petrol leo jioni!” I overheard one boy announce to the group.

This was the clue I was looking for! Everything was now clear to me. I avoided getting dragged into those conversations and just went direct to my cube. Suprisingly, Calbrich Pedo; my deskie and bed mate, was already in bed. This was unlike him; however, I just went ahead to sleep in my bed. Minutes later a couple of prefects busted into our cube looking for Carl, and I watched him walk away with them. At this moment all I wanted was some good sleep. Thank God it came.

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When I woke up at five on Saturday morning, boys were still standing in groups. I don’t know if they managed to sleep! The school was tense, everything had come to a halt. I gathered that the group of boys who had been caught yesternight, were planning to torch the school and one of them, Nyatumba, had since disappeared with the petrol. They had to spend the night locked up in the staffroom. Things slugged on and at around 8 or 9, Ugunja Police van came and picked the terror squad. An hour later, a bell rang at the assembly ground. When we got there, the police van was standing next to the field with some officers. This wasn’t a good sign. Still I kept calm. The OSC stepped in to address us, and in his palm, he had a piece of paper. He had come to pick up other suspects,he announced. Was I in the list? He called out some few names and luckily mine wasn’t. But he threatened to come back for more. Maybe I was in the next list.

We were dismissed and William Ng’ayo joined me – a friend and a cube mate, he confessed he was privy to the plan and he was scared stiff, he was shaking. In my mind I had a plan, well calculated move. We headed back to the dormitories and after some waiting, Carl appeared. He narrated of the ordeal they underwent at the police station and how after flogging, Roja had tried to recall my name in vain. Now, Carl had saved my ass, he hadn’t snitched. He was my SHUJAA! 

I thought my woes were now gone, but I was wrong. Later that night, a group of about four prefects came for me …it was past 9 pm … I was required at the Principal’s office. This was the moment to put on that not-guilty look.

“Mujinga ametoka Barding kuja kunichomea shule!!” Olonde screamed when he saw me. My heart was pounding real hard, I was afraid it would sell me out. He pushed me to the wall and started strangling me, I knew this kinda move, he wanted to break me and get me talking. I bet he was wrong. He switched off all the lights and led me to the Secretary’s Office, he gave me a rim of plain papers and ordered me to write down 30 names of the suspects plus where the petrol was hidden. He said he had information that I was threatening Form ones that the strike was still on. He was playing mind games, something I was good at. I dared him to bring in a witness and he hasitated for a while and went to the sink.

When he came back he threatened to call the police to come and pick me up, at this, I insisted I was innocent and urged him that instead of calling the police we better just go to the station because I was eager to clear my name.

“Kijana you cannot fool with those tricks you learnt in Barding!” he shouted. Deep down I knew he was cornered, he had no solid intel on me. Maybe one of the prefects had told him of my closeness with Carl and some of the boys. After an hour of trying to make me talk, he threatened me that tomorrow morning I should pack my mattress and box and leave the school. I knew he was bluffing.

“Kijana, I will not rest until you are out of this school!” he warned when he finally let me out.

I just stole a few minutes off my work to write this, but please I promise to write you more of what went down after I left the office in my next post. Allow me to get back to work. I was in a hurry. Please do enjoy your Mashujaa Day, and remember to dedicate this day to your Shujaas!

Calbrich Pedo Raymond, I salute you brother. Rogers Oyuga and Vinny, I’m still waiting for my balance.

Posted by Mr. Jagweng

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