For the idle ones who have been closely following events in Mwisho wa Lami, you will be aware that Kuya, my nemesis, has been missing in action for a few weeks. It all started with the teachers’ strike. To save a shilling and make another extra shilling, he took his motorcycle from Nyayo and started running it himself.
Although Nyayo told everyone who mattered that Kuya could not get as many customers per day as he (Nyayo) got, Kuya told us that even with the few customers, he was making more money than Nyayo was declaring. Kuya continued doing this even after the strike ended but within a week, what Nyayo had warned happened. Kuya caused an accident.
It had rained and he had difficulties controlling the motorcycle. He lost control and hit a man injuring him badly, and also injuring his passenger. Without valid documents, Kuya became a wanted man, and he went underground. I had wished that he did not return, but ladies and gentleman, it is with a heavy heart that today I announce to you that Kuya returned last week.
Things had been smooth in his absence, as teachers were easily taking my instructions without raising any questions. There was no one to discourage them from following my instructions. And indeed, in the last few weeks that Kuya has been away, I achieved quite a lot. Classes were taking place smoothly and remedial classes going on uninterrupted. The schemes of work and record of work documents were being filled diligently.
Until last Wednesday. Out of nowhere, Kuya arrived in school.
“Welcome Kuya, we missed you,” said Madam Ruth who is close to Kuya as they were college mates.
“Happy to be back,” said Kuya. “Hoping things are better than I left them.”
“You wish,” said Madam Ruth “We wish you were around.”
During tea time, colleagues tried to prod him to explain what had happened but getting details from him was like getting water from a stone. “If you want to know the real Kenya, fanya makosa. The last few weeks have brought me face to face with a Kenya that I did not know existed.”
“Are you still being looked for?” asked Oscar? “I know of a policemen who can help you.”
“Don’t worry, I killed that story and it cannot resurrect,” answered Kuya. “But I lost trust in any police officer. No officer can assist you for free, even if he is your brother.”
“So what happened?” asked Madam Nzomo. I knew that if it was Nzomo asking, Kuya would answer as he always had some undeclared interest in her, and could never let her down.
“We managed to prove that I was not on the wrong,” he said.
“Do you have your boda boda back?” asked Erick, whose motorcycle was impounded a few months ago and has never been returned, yet he continues to repay the loan.
“Yes and it’s already on the road. This is Kenya.”
After tea, all teachers went to class. I noticed only Kuya remained in the staffroom and I summoned him to my office. He took some time — about half an hour, then came.
“Yes Dre,” he said when he arrived.
“According to the timetable, where should you be?” I asked him.
“Dre you will not start teaching me my work,” he said. “I have been teaching for more than 10 years and no one can start teaching me my work.”
“I also have been teaching for long and I know what I am asking,” I said.
“Just because I am not in class does not mean that I am not teaching,” he answered. “Go ask the students, I already gave them work that they are am doing.”
“Can I see your schemes of work?” I asked him.
“I am not on Teaching Practice Dre, so don’t try to intimidate me,” he said. “And don’t play with me. Even the OCPD and OCS thought they would arrest me but here I am, so who are you?”
He then left my office. At lunchtime, I delayed to go to the staffroom. Lunch was ugali and sukuma so there was no need for any hurry. The teachers were in a heated debate when I arrived. The debate had been started by Kuya.
“I agree with you Kuya,” said Mrs Atika. “If we won’t be paid for September, why are we struggling hard to compensate for lost time?”
“That is the best thing that you have ever said here Kuya,” added Madam Ruth. “I have been struggling here with morning and evening preps to cover for lost time yet I won’t be compensated for lost money.”
“Maybe you have a point,” I said when I got in. “But by working morning and evening, you are reducing your workload next year as the students will be far ahead,” I said. “As for class eight, we will produce high marks!”
“What is the benefit Dre?” asked Mrs Atika. “I have been a teacher for over 20 years and I have never benefited from students passing exams.”
“Mwisho wa Lami parents don’t care or do anything if their children pass KCPE,” said Madam Ruth. “They only complain when they fail. So really them passing is not a priority for me.”
I tried to reason with the teachers but the numbers were not on my side. Other than the quiet Erick, who never contributed anything, other than nodding to what I said, the rest of the teachers were on Kuya’s side.”
“You know Dre is saying like that because he was paid,” said Oscar. “He is the one who needs to compensate for lost time and the government already compensated him for lost money,”
This stung me as I have not been paid. “For your information, I have not been paid. Life would be very different if I had been paid.”
“Dre we are not children,” said Madam Ruth. “All headmasters and deputies were paid. My husband Juma was paid.”
“Dre nunulia walimu soda si ulilipwa?” said Oscar.
“Not all were paid. Many deputies even in this county were not paid and we are following up.” It was impossible to convince anyone that I had not been paid.
That afternoon, most teachers left the school early. They had been teaching dutifully for the last two weeks, but on that day, virtually every teacher had left by the time the bell for games time rang. Only Lena, who was on duty, remained.
A few minutes later, I saw her leave as well, then I heard the students cheer loudly. When I found out what was happening, I was told by the prefects that Lena had informed them that there would be no evening preps. She had also informed them that there would be no morning preps the next day.
“Dre I thought we agreed during lunch time that there will be no preps going forward?” she asked me when I called her.
“We never agreed on this,” I said.
“Dre we agreed. And after you left, Kuya led us into agreeing not to proceed with the preps.”
“Who is Kuya? Is he the deputy? Is he the HM?” I asked her. She did not answer me. I was mad.
That evening I sent an SMS to all teachers calling for a staff meeting early Thursday morning. My main focus was Kuya whom I wanted to bring back to earth. I wanted him to know who was boss — and before all the teachers.
He, however, immediately responded to me via SMS: “Sorry Dre, I will be invigilation KCPE we have an induction tomorrow. See you the other week.” When I asked him why I had not been informed well in advance, he told me that his boss, the HM, was aware. With Kuya not attending, I cancelled the staff meeting.