MWALIMU ANDREW: How my withdrawal killed Maina’s event

Saturday November 4 2017

It is still the talk of the village, with

It is still the talk of the village, with everyone praising the pivotal role I played in making the event the great success that it was. ILLUSTRATION| JOHN NYAGAH 

By MWALIMU ANDREW
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I am sure you still remember Busy Bee Academy’s 2017 Graduation ceremony that happened just about over a week ago.

It is still the talk of the village, with everyone praising the pivotal role I played in making the event the great success that it was.

Had I not been the presiding Chief Guest of Honour, no one needs a calculator to know that the event would never have been known outside the school.

But thanks to me, the people of Mwisho wa Lami and beyond now know how a proper, modern graduation looks like.

No wonder many institutions started looking for me to preside over their graduation ceremonies – even those that had never had such.

Besides Mr Maina who invited me to preside over the graduation ceremony for his 2017 KCPE candidates, the principal of St Theresa Girls also called me, asking me what she could do to ensure that the last day for her Form 4  students was memorable. But since this event is coming after KCSE exams, I decided to concentrate on Sharp Shooters’ graduation.

I met Mr Maina, the owner and director, on Monday, after the KCPE rehearsals, and we started planning for the great day.

A week before the event, Mr Maina had asked each parent to pay Sh1,400 for the graduation. This was good money considering he had 54 students in Class Eight, and unlike Mwisho wa Lami’s very poor and unwilling to pay parents, the students of Sharp Shooter are from the who is who in town and although their parents may have some problems in their lives, money is not one of them.

That evening, we agreed on the programme, which was more detailed and colourful than Tito’s.

You see, Tito’s low-budget event made me cut down on some things, like inviting entertainers, a powerful PA system, colourful tents and even awards. But with the funds that were at Mr Maina’s disposal, we had an opportunity to do a lot.

CALLED MY SISTER

I called my sister Caro and told her that I would be presiding over the graduation ceremony of Sharp Shooters Academy. She did not disappoint.

The next day, word that I would be presiding over another graduation had spread far and beyond, with many promising to attend. From what I gathered, it was going to be a mammoth crowd.

By Tuesday evening, I had already written my speech, and another for Maina and the original citations to be used. I planned to see Mr Maina so that we could discuss the speech and citations.

But on my way to see him, some disturbing information reached me from reliable source intimate to the source.

This information made me uncomfortable with the ceremony all together. It was about some people that had been invited for the graduation. One of them was Apostle Overseer Elkana.

I did not tell you but in the last graduation, Elkana had taken a lot of money, eating into what I could have received.

My fear was that having attended the graduation, he was likely to steal my ideas and present them to Mr Maina as his own. This could really affect my pay.

Secondly, I was reliably informed that Mr Maina had also invited Bensouda, the female headmaster of our school. No, it was not possible for both of us to attend the event, especially if I wanted to remain the Chief Guest of Honour.

If we both attended, chances are that she would be made the guest of honour, yet I was more academically qualified. I was not going to hand over the job to her, having worked so hard.

Thirdly, Mr Maina was not coming clean on how much I would be paid. He had just said he would not forget me, without mentioning amount.

I tried reaching him to present my irreducible minimums but he was unreachable on phone. I only managed to meet him the next morning.

His body language told me that things had changed. Which was not surprising. I can tell you for free that all private schools owners are very sly people. I asked him about pay and he said that was not an issue.

“I know what value you will be adding to the ceremony,” he assured.

 I then asked him about my two irreducible minimums.

“Apostle Elkana is just coming to pray, although he told me that he can also do the citations” he said – confirming my fears.

“You can’t get another pastor?” I asked. “Elkana will just be coming for the money. Plus he can spoil your great day by saying things you may not want to hear.”

Mr Maina insisted that Elkana would attend. The other person was Bensouda.

“Her son was among the first students here and I always invite her for events,” he said. I told him I know how poor she is academically and that she wouldn’t add any value. “I have been through a lot with her. She trusted me and paid school fees when no other parent was paying,” he said. “She must attend.”

I told Mr Maina that I would only preside over the event if the two were not attending. He promised to get back to me. I left Hitler’s very late that night. Mr Maina still had not called.

I tried calling him but he disconnected my calls. He sent me an SMS intead: “They are important to me just as you are, but should you feel that you can’t attend if they attend, you are free not to.” Those words hurt me today just as they hurt that day.

If I was not going to attend and preside over the event, then there was no way I would allow the event to be as successful or colourful as Tito’s had been. I immediately swang into action.

I called Caro that night and told her that I would not be attending the event after all. I did not give her further instructions, she knew what to do.

I also talked to Tito. Tito is a member of a WhatsApp group of owners of academies. He had invited the owners to Maina’s graduation. He wrote on the group and said that the graduation had been postponed.

Fiolina also incited other teachers at the school who had not been paid to boycott the event.

In the morning, Mr Maina called me, asking for the speech and citation that I had written. I promised to share later that day. Of course that was not going to happen. Thanks to Caro, by end of that day, word had spread well enough that the graduation would not happen – or would not be as big as had been thought, especially with me not in attendance.

Mr Maina must be a slow person because this information only reached him on Thursday, just a day to the graduation. He tried calling me, but I did not pick his calls.

He sent me an SMS saying that we could talk. I did not respond.

Friday was just another day for me. I may not have travelled to Sharp Shooters Academy for the graduation, but I had my people on the ground who kept updating me on what happened. I can confirm that it was a very boring event. The only guests present were Bensouda and Elkana, who presided over the graduation. Owners of other academies gave the event a wide berth, and I understand most of the students did not pay and never even came.

Now everyone in Mwisho wa Lami and its environs knows that if you want your event to be successful and colourful, I must be involved!

 

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