A few months ago, when I was serving as the deputy HM of Mwisho wa Lami Primary, I did not have any kind words for Bensouda, our female headmaster. But as they say, you do not know what you have until you have lost it.
Having been away for some time, and now back at Mwisho wa Lami as her able deputy, I want to declare today without fear or favour that Mrs Skastina Majani, aka, Bensouda, is one of the best and coolest bosses you will ever have. And here is why.
Freedom of operation
I want to admit that I have served under many bosses, and many headmasters and in all these years, I am yet to see a HM that gives their deputy and teachers freedom to operate, freedom to think and implement their own strategy with very little interference like Bensouda does. Unlike other HMs, Bensouda is not the type of boss that wants to direct your every move, check when you arrived at school, or if you went to class.
Bensouda is a firm believer in “Theory Y” – and lets you operate the way you think best. This is why, as deputy of this school, she has allowed me to run and execute the school strategy and everyone will accept that this school has greatly benefitted from this great and tested approach to management.
Indeed, it is her liking of freedom of operations that she has not been in school ever since I returned as her able deputy. This is because she believes that I have the wherewithal to take care of matters here. Ignore the enemies of development who call that laziness, have they ever managed anything?
The reason that Saphire has been here for long, and even survived yet another interdiction is because of Bensouda. Bensouda would take a bullet for her staff. Yes, she is harsh during staff meetings and threatens us with dire consequences which is meant to make us stay focused.
But outside that and where it matters, she is our Ahmednasir at TSC. She would defend our every action. Indeed when the country director of education moved and interdicted Saphire, it is Bensouda who vehemently defended him leading to his successful reinstatement.
There is no question that Bensodua is a results-focused HM. She sets high targets that she works hard through the year to meet. For the third year running since she came to this school, we have met out targets. This is because, all year round, during the few times that she comes to school, she never misses an opportunity to remind us of the targets that we all must meet.
I know there are those enemies of development that will dispute that and remind me that we got a mean score of 184.9 in last year’s KCPE exams but those are best ignored. They are ignorant of the environment we operate in at this school. I can tell you without fear of contradiction that the result would have been worse if we were not lucky to have Bensouda as our supreme teacher.
You can accuse Bensouda of many things, but unless you are an incorrigible enemy of development, like some people are, you will agree with me that the grand lady is not petty. Bensouda’s foresightedness means that she has little time for small and petty things like time or arrival, dress code, class attendance, schemes of work, lesson plans, syllabus coverage among other non-issues.
For her, the goals we set for ourselves every year are the most important things. Even if you miss lessons or arrive late at school, as long as you are meeting your targets, she will have no issues with you.
The enemies of development would say that is abdication of her duties but what good thing have you heard from enemies of development?
Love and care
I never thought I would say this before but today I want to admit that Bensouda is the most lovely and motherly bosses I have ever worked under. She has always been concerned about my affairs, and the little time we have met, she always greets me well with a broad smile. She has this affectionate warmth of character in her demeanour that is very welcoming.
Once in a while she hugs me warmly and she had taken me out for drinks frequently either at Teachers Tavern, Kasuku Bar; or as a show of love, at her place.
You will, however, hear some people say that we are more than just colleagues. They could be true. The two of us cannot successfully run this school as we are doing if we were just colleagues. The fact that we are great friends who genuinely love each other is one of the reasons this school is what it is today.
And for those who accuse her of not showing the same affection to other teachers, just be reminded that love is always between two people and no one can be loved by force. Accepting to be loved is a democratic choice one makes.
There is no doubt that Bensouda is a family woman who supports her teachers and their families. I will always remember her attending my wedding and even buying a crate of soda for me at the time — even though she only paid half and I cleared the balance.
At that time, she was still new and I must say that it was a genuine gesture and she has continued to support all teachers’ families. She has allowed me to visit her several times and has also visited me twice — when Fiolina was away.
Bensouda may have been divorced from her husband but that does not make her any less a family person who genuinely cares about our well-being. I heard some teachers complaining that Bensouda has never taken a key interest in their family affairs and I wondered what family that teacher had for Bensouda to be interested in.
Bensodua is anything but mean — at least to me. She has come to my rescue financially more times than I am willing to reveal here. Twice, she has helped me pay Fiolina’s fees. For those who say she is mean, how do they expect to receive when they have never given? Doesn’t the Bible say that blessed are those who give than those who receive?
So when I learnt that it was Bensouda’s birthday last Thursday, I started organising a small party for her. I started calling her on Tuesday to see how I could lure her to school that Thursday afternoon.
We had bought two crates of soda and mandazi. All teachers and a few students were around to sing for her birthday songs. Unfortunately she did not make it.
That, however, did not prevent us from making merry. In fact, a fight almost broke out over sodas in the staffroom as some teachers like Saphire were unhappy that we had invited students, thus preventing them from taking two sodas.
Later that evening, I visited Bensouda at her home to wish her happy birthday. On my way, I bought her two queen cakes. I also looked for a happy birthday card but since I did not find one, I bought a success card and creatively changed the message. We had a great time with her.
It was late at night when I left her place after very nice but private celebrations. Once again, Happy Birthday to the coolest boss I have ever had. Many happy returns.