If I had my way, Professor Olive Mugenda would still not be the Vice-Chancellor and Chief Headmaster of Kenyatta University. Don’t get me wrong. I do not want her out because of any failure in developing the university! No, the good lady has brought massive development to this great shrine of pedagogy. There is development all over that covers every state of a person, from the healthy to the sick to the dead! More development is still coming up.
I don’t want her fired for low academic standards. No, the academic standards at this university are the highest I have ever experienced in my long and expansive academic vocation – at least by Mwisho wa Lami standards. Nor is it for lack of cleanliness. Kenyatta University is the cleanest university in the country, or to rephrase it, the only clean university in Kenya; with flowers donning everywhere. I want Prof Mugenda out for not listening to me and my cry.
As an accomplished scholar, I have severally postulated that a teacher of Kiswahili and Fasihi like me does not need to study statistics to become a better teacher. How would summation help me in Msamiati? I have never heard anyone calculating the standard deviation of Methali; nor do we need to know the median of Ngeli.
Yet, despite my protestations, Prof Mugenda has insisted that unless I pass the statistics course, I won’t graduate. As such, that statistics unit is the only thing standing between me and graduation. As you know, I have attempted the unit three times but in all the attempts, I have come short of impressing the lecturers.
On the third attempt I did not even sit for the exams – it was rather obvious to me that it would be a waste of time to sit for the paper having understood nothing from the class and nothing from several discussion group meetings I attended. I wrote to Prof Mugenda then asking her to reconsider exempting me from the unit as a reward for my contribution to humanity in other, more important, aspects of life. She did not respond to me.
As a result, I at some point gave up on this degree. After all you do not need a degree to be promoted or teach well. My bosses do not even have a diploma or certificates but they are my bosses. Bensouda did not even go to a TTC. After A levels, she went for a two weeks seminar and came out a teacher. Why was I struggling to get a degree?
But after seeing Branton graduate from baby class recently, I decided to graduate before he graduates from nursery. That is when I decided that I will do everything that I can to complete my degree course soonest. I can’t wait for that day when I will proudly wear those robes and degree on my head, and join many others in saying “I do” to the question: “Do you accept the powers to read all that appertains to a Bachelor of Education…”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I found myself in Nairobi for what probably should be my last session as a student. As soon as Nyayo and Apostle Elkana both returned safely to Mwisho wa Lami, I boarded the first Nairobi-bound Msamaria Mwema, arriving in the city at mid-day.
Nairobi had changed drastically since the last time I was here, but being very bright, I was able to manoeuvre through town and took a matatu to the university. KU, too, had changed a lot. I joined others students who were registering at the graduation square, where I will graduate from next July.
Since I was only taking two units (the other one was just escorting Statistics), I did not want to spend a lot and that is why I did not even pay for a room. And staying at my brother’s Pius was out of question. We have not been talking for some time now. We only use SMS when we must. Interestingly, his wife likes me so much and had always requested that I stay at their place when I am in Nairobi. I suspect that Pius doesn’t like me because his wife likes me.
A few years ago, I would have shared a room with Wesonga, but Wesonga completed the course and graduated long ago. This despite the fact that I was brighter than him.
My attempts to start a conversation with the registering students did not go far. Since I was the best dressed person around, many of the registering students thought that I was either a lecturer at KU, or a senior government official. Which I will soon be! My crisp blue polyester Kaunda suit, shining black sharp shooters shoes, protruding yellow referendum t-shirt and red socks stood me out from the crowd.
“How are you,” some young gentleman greeted me. He asked me whether I knew where Nyayo Dormitories were. I jumped at the opportunity to show him where Nyayo was, hoping that he would let me share the room with him.
“I know and I can take you,” I said. I carried my small tin box and we went with him to where his belongings were and then walked to Nyayo Hostels. His name was Kyalo and going by the many things he was carrying, including a hockey stick, it was clear this was his first session. “It is far,” I warned him before we left. Thrice, we stopped to rest.
“I was told that Kenyatta University is bigger that Kitui Town where I come from,” he said.
“Do you know Nzomo?” I asked him on hearing that he was from Ukambani. “Nzomo the teacher,” I said when he asked which Nzomo I was talking about. He said he knew her.
I helped him get a roommate and an hour later, they were allocated a room. I told them I had not been allocated a room since I had not completed choosing study courses. I then opened my tin box and got out a bottle of Quencher juice. We diluted a little of it and took a glass each. I like juice very much but I think the two gentlemen like juice more than I. Due to great public demand, we took a second helping of the juice.
“Si juice ni tamu,” said Kyalo. We all agreed. It was clear that the two-litre juice I had bought may not last me the entire session as long as I stayed with the two gentlemen.
“Can we go for lunch?” I asked them after they had unpacked. Since they were both new, they eagerly accepted and I walked with them to KM and specifically to Baghdad restaurant where I bought them lunch.
From lunch I took around Kyalo and his friend Mutiso around Kenyatta University. We became instant friends and that evening, they had no problem sharing the room with me. They shared the lower decker while I slept on the upper decker. Kyalo even suggested that I should not look for another room as they were okay with me staying with them for the whole session. I vehemently rejected saying I would find my room the next day but deep down, I was smiling. Since they were taking the same courses and were always together, they gave me one key and agreed to share the other. I also gave them my first session notes and they were very happy.
With room matters sorted, I started attending classes in earnest. Unlike other times, I have not missed any statistics class and I have been doing exercises after every class to pass the exams with flying colours.
But should I fail it again, there is hope. I hear they are looking for Prof Mugenda’s replacement and I am sure the new headmaster would not want to subject students to courses that are not relevant to them. Pray that this will be my last session in Kenyatta University.