Those of you with an ear on happenings in this school will remember a few weeks ago when I decided to go independent on matters lunch. This was after the lunch club, which I had invested a lot of my resources, turned out to be shambolic. As such, I decided to be taking my lunch at the market centre independently.
I also left the staffroom WhatsApp group — and with it went the fresh jokes that I used to share with my colleagues; jokes I received from my brother Pius who works in Nairobi. Two weeks later, my colleagues convinced me to return to the lunch club, although I suspect they wanted me back to the WhatsApp group to make it lively.
If you remember, I was the one who formed the group, last year, and then appointed Nzomo to be the senior deputy administrator. My leaving left Nzomo as the chief administration manager of the group; and two weeks later, she returned me to the group.
“Welcome back,” messages flowed in. Among those who welcomed me back was Bensouda. This was shocking, for she had not been a member when I left.
With Bensouda in the group, I was not going to say anything. Please don’t tell anyone, but although we are quite close with Bensouda, in public, she is always harsh with me. That was why I wasn’t going to share any joke.
But in this campaign period, there were some jokes that I could not just keep to myself. The other Friday, there was this one about a lady gyrating to the Nasa tune. I shared it. There were positive comments. Encouraged, I shared another video on Raila.
All was going well until Mrs Atika wrote: “Guys let’s be sensitive what we share here. The two are immoral videos and also don’t think that we are all in Nasa.” There was an awkward silence in the group. It wasn’t until an hour later that Nzomo wrote: “I am not Nasa but I enjoyed the videos, Dre please share more.”
Kuya, Sella and Lena also supported Nzomo.
“I concur with Mrs Atika, can we be sensitive to what we share. I can’t believe mature people like you can laugh at such. Nkt!”
“What does Nkt mean?” asked Mrs Atika, genuinely.
“Lol,” wrote Nzomo, confusing Mrs Atika even more. There was silence in the group until evening. I was busy chatting with Catherina very late in the night when Bensouda wrote to the group: “Hi guys hope your day was well.” Then she started typing. I waited for her message but half an hour later, she was still typing.
I was able to read what Bensouda had written the next day at 6 am. She was saying that the school WhatsApp group was not a political party group nor was it a place for jokes. No one responded to her message.
Last weekend, Pius had travelled home and we bumped into Bensouda at Cosmos Bar. Pius and Bensouda were both in a philanthropic mood and my thirst was at its peak. We talked a lot and the discussions moved from politics to management. After discussing several management types, Bensouda added one that I had never heard off. “MBWA.” I asked what that was.
“Management By Walking Around,” she said. “As soon as I arrive in school, I always walk around so that everyone notices am around. People work on seeing me!” Although I had never heard of the MBWA style before, I also admitted to being a user of the style.
“That’s so old school,” said Pius. “We still do MBWA but in a modern way.” Bensouda asked how.
“The new MBWA is Management By WhatsApp,” he said. “Why should I walk when I can reach everyone via WhatsApp?” He whipped out his phone and showed us how he runs his team.
“Let me show you something,” he said then wrote a message to one of the groups, asking that he needed to receive a certain report before end of Monday.
“Let’s see what will happen,” he said. It did not take long. The responses came in fast and furious: “Noted boss, Noted sir, It will be done, I am on it..”
“Two guys in my team never respond to my messages unless reminded,” he said then directly wrote to them on WhatsApp. “Why haven’t you responded to my WhatsApp?” he asked them.
“This will be done Sir, sorry for delay in response,” one responded.
Bensouda was taking notes! In the last two weeks, we have experienced such an overkill of the two MBWA styles: Management by walking Around and Management by WhatsApp. For the two days she was in school, she was always walking around giving instructions but any time she is not in school, she was issuing orders on WhatsApp.
It all started the other Sunday when she wrote a very long message with instructions on what she expected from everyone in the week. An hour later, no one had responded. Remembering our meeting with Pius the day before, I replied: Noted. Sella responded as well.
We woke up on Monday morning to another long message. She had shared a Bible verse and added a few more instructions to all of us. When by 9 am no-one had responded she wrote: “Hi colleagues, have we not read this message?”
I went to the Bible verse and replied Amen. Several other teachers responded as well,
That Monday evening, she wished us a good night. We also woke up on Tuesday to a motivational quote. Without even reading, I responded: Quite Inspirational. I noted that all other teachers responded at around 8.30 am. I would later learn that she called everyone who had not responded to her message. This went on for some time.
There was drama last Wednesday during our staff meeting. Bensouda was not in the mood and started off the meeting harshly. Saphire walked in an hour later.
“Why are you late for my meeting?” she asked him.
“Which meeting?” he asked “I am not aware of any meeting.”
“What do you mean, I sent a message on WhatsApp.”
“I don’t have a WhatsApp phone.” he said, showing his old, Nokia mulika mwizi, held together with strings.
“How can a whole teacher have such a phone?”
“I have checked the TSC Code of conduct and nowhere does is say that teachers must have WhatsApp phones,” he said
“I know but if you don’t then you are going to miss a lot in this school as I will be doing things via WhatsApp,” Bensouda said.
“Don’t blame me if I don’t get your messages,” said Saphire.
Later that day, we all agreed not to respond to any of Bensouda’s messages. So since last Wednesday, she had been writing but no one has responded. She wrote a message as late as yesterday and wondered why no one was responding. “Colleagues, are we still all here?” she asked. No one responded.
We do not need a calculator to know that a tough week awaits us from tomorrow!