On Friday last week, students at Itierio Boys High School in Kisii County burnt down seven dormitories after the school’s administration prohibited them from watching a football match.
I remember reading that story and shuddering at how indisciplined those boys were. I mean, burn your sleeping quarters to the ground because you were denied permission to watch football? C’mon!
That was until I read my colleague Ng’ang’a Mbugua’s op-ed in Thursday’s Daily Nation.
He is right, many of us, parents, teachers and other adults in authority, do not put into consideration children’s feelings. We think that we know best, and when our children make their feelings known, we view this as disobedience, insubordination that needs to be punished.
Indeed, would have the world erupted into devastating chaos had the boys been allowed to watch that football match? As Ng’ang’a put it, it was a Friday after all, and not much happens in our boarding schools on a Saturday morning, or the entire day for that matter.
This reminded me of an incident that happened in the high school I went to many years ago, and incident that happened because we believed we had been treated unfairly by our teachers.
It was a Sunday, though a Sunday unlike the others because it was visiting day. We all looked forward to seeing our parents, but above all, we looked forward to the goodies they would come bearing, delicacies that do not exist in most of Kenya’s public boarding schools.
Anyway, our parents did come, and they did not disappoint. We ate to near-bursting, aware that we had another three months of watery over-stayed cabbage and uncooked ugali to contend with before schools closed for the holidays. As it happened each visiting day, we all sneaked the leftover food to our dorms, which we planned to have for supper and breakfast the following morning.
This was against school rules – food from home was prohibited – the only thing we were allowed was a bottle of juice and biscuits. This time round, however, the teachers decided to conduct an impromptu search. You should have seen the mountain of food netted! It could have fed several families of five for a month.
Anyway, the victorious teachers dumped the food they had confiscated in our buckets and basins and ferried it to the garbage pit. For some reason, the pit had been dug near the staffroom.
I do not recall how it happened, or what prompted us, but that evening, after the teachers left, we made a beeline for the garbage pit – the sight of all that wasted food unceremoniously heaped together, including fruits, must have loosened a screw somewhere in our heads, unhinged something in us.
I remember feeling outraged, furious. As we stood there, looking at our parents’ generosity being feasted on by fat rats, one of the girls suddenly scooped some of the food and marched resolutely towards the staffroom, where several windows had been left open.
She then calmly threw the mishmash into the staff room. What happened next was the kind of team work every employer would wish to see with his employees – within 30 minutes, all the contents of the pit had been emptied into the staff room.
What a sight!
The following morning, at the crack of dawn, we, apart from the Form Fours, walked out of the school gate, much to the surprise of our one watchman, who was too shocked to do anything. We walked all the way to the district commissioner’s office, a couple of kilometers away, to air our grievances.
To cut a long story short, the DC convinced us to go back to school, and if I remember correctly, no one was punished, and from then on, we were allowed to keep any leftover food we had from visiting days until the following morning.
This does not mean that I advocate striking or breaking school rules for students to get their way, what I am saying is that in some cases, compromise achieves much more than turning a deaf ear to simple and harmless requests that would not in any way change how a school is run.
Your article about social blunders, made me laugh. The stilleto story reminded me of a friend of mine whose cousin tore a teabag and poured its contents in water since she had never used teabags before. What made it a social blunder is because my friend was in the company of his college mates when the cousin unknowingly embarrased him. He wanted the world to swallow her. I am glad you still got your mojo of capturing life’s issues in a funny way.
Last Sunday’s article reminded me of a movie I watched where a man who had a running stomach visited his friend’s house. But in his rush to use the toilet, he failed to see the sign that asked people to use the toilet upstairs since that particular one was faulty. You should have seen the man trying to fix the broken flushing handle.
I have fallen into that trap before and I can confirm it is real torture. Self-control just escapes through the window.
Well said and put Caroline. It reminds me of an experience I had at Hell’s Gate on an excursion during my days at Moi University. It turned to be real hell. My outfit was the joke of the day. I bet if ranking was to be done, mine could have scored highest — I mean the best example of the worst outfit. Lesson: wear the right attire for specific occassions.