Cracks in Mwisho wa Lami gave me hope of replacing Bensouda

Saturday March 17 2018

When, last week, Bensouda took the action of firing Atlas, the BOM teacher who is one of Mwisho wa Lami’s finest brains, she was keen to show that she was in charge, and that she would not tolerate bad behaviour. ILLUSTRATION| JOHN NYAGAH

When, last week, Bensouda took the action of firing Atlas, the BOM teacher who is one of Mwisho wa Lami’s finest brains, she was keen to show that she was in charge, and that she would not tolerate bad behaviour. ILLUSTRATION| JOHN NYAGAH 

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When, last week, Bensouda took the action of firing Atlas, the BOM teacher who is one of Mwisho wa Lami’s finest brains, she was keen to show that she was in charge, and that she would not tolerate bad behaviour.

Although I believed the sacking was wrong, as I did not see any wrong that Atlas had done, as a deputy who is bound by leadership responsibility, I did not oppose the decision – at least not in public. I told the headteacher that even though our athletics team would suffer in the competition, I supported the move to send Atlas packing.

But when I went to Hitler’s on Friday that week, I was accosted by a team of villagers that was quite angry at the firing. One would have expected that everyone in Mwisho wa Lami would be happy since the girl Atlas had been accused of trying to waylay in that bush was Nyayo’s daughter. And Nyayo is one of Mwisho wa Lami’s who is who.

But that was not the story.

The story was that Mwisho wa Lami is made up of two major clans. And I happened to come from the same clan as Atlas; while Nyayo came from the other one, which seemed to have majority representation in the school.

“Mbona huwezi tetea kijana wetu aendelee kufunza hapo?” asked Rasto. Rasto, who owns the sugar cane plantation that was the scene of the event, even claimed that he had seen the children run there on several occasions, and that all that happened was that students would walk in the plantation for a short call.

“Nyayo walikuwa wanafanya nini kwa miwa yangu?” he asked. “They are thieves.” Alphayo also joined him, and they reminded me that following the exit of Mr Lutta, I was the only teacher from our clan teaching at Mwisho wa Lami Primary School. “Saphire, Madam Ruth, Mrs Atika, Anindo the cook are all from the other clan, yet we all gave equal land for the school. In fact our land was bigger.”

I reminded them that the school watchman was from our clan, but they told me that was nothing to write home about. “Hiyo ni aibu sana.”

“So, what do we do?” I asked them. They said that we had to do everything to ensure that Atlas gets his job back. I was reminded that even Agrippa and Tracy came from the other clan. And Agrippa was staying with the football team till very late without any restrictions.

I reminded them that Bensouda was not from Mwisho wa Lami and they all laughed. “Who is the father of her son who is in KU?” asked Alphayo. “Go find out.”

We left Hitler’s late that day, without agreeing on any next cause of action, but when I went back there on Sunday, Rasto and Alphayo had recruited more people.  Hitler and Petrol, Atlas’ elder brother had joined them. And they told me that unless Atlas was reinstated, then Bensouda would also have to go.

“Huyu Bensouda tumemtetea miaka mingi,” said Rasto. “Mbona ananyanyasa watu wetu hivi?” Petrol was very unhappy. “Atlas is very bright and very runny – he loves running. Why is he being punished? Kwani no one from our family can get anything in this school?”

They told me that they would be protesting in school for the reinstatement of Atlas, or the removal of Bensouda if Atlas was not reinstated. And they needed my support. I told them I couldn’t support such a thing. I added that Bensouda had made the right decision.

“What do you mean?” asked Alphayo. “How can our people suffer just like that and you are there?”

“You are a fool, Dre,” said Petrol. I asked him why. “Kwani if we chased Bensouda away, who will be the headmaster of this school kama si wewe?” he asked. “We cannot just be producing the deputy all the time. One of us should also head the school.”

My eyes brightened on hearing that I could be the headteacher if we managed to send Bensouda away as this has always been my dream. “So how can I assist?” I asked, excitedly.

“We need to be facilitated to do demos,” he said. “Some money to buy materials for demos and to pay the boys who will demonstrate.” They told me they needed Sh200.

I wondered what these materials that would cost Sh200 are.  “You just need to get leaves,” I said.

“No, one cannot go to demonstrate while sober,” said Petrol. “We also have to buy some placards for the demos.” We haggled over this and settled on Sh1,000.

“We also need you to help us on something else,” said Petrol. “We need to know when Bensouda will be in the office, so that we demonstrate when she is around.” I agreed.

I parted with Sh500 to help them prepare. I wasn’t not so sure if Bensouda would come the next day – last Monday – so that I could advise Petrol to come and demonstrate. To find out, I sent an SMS to Bensouda “Hi Madam, anything you want me to do for you tomorrow?” 

“Don’t worry, I will be in tomorrow. Please call for a staff meeting tomorrow at 9.30am,” she replied.

Before telling the teachers of the staff meeting on WhatsApp, I called Petrol to tell him that it would be a good time to demonstrate on Monday at 10am.

Come Monday and I was in school early, so that I would not be a suspect in the demo plans. After parade, I started preparing for the staff meeting.

By 9.30am Petrol said he was ready with the boys. Bensouda had not arrived by 9.30am. Ten minutes later, she sent me an SMS saying she won’t be coming. “Chair the meeting and give me an update tomorrow when I come in.”

I had to tell Petrol that the demos could only be done the next day. “Ni sawa tu,” he responded. “But you have to give us more money as we already used what you gave us yesterday.”

Bensouda did not come on Tuesday despite the boys being ready. That meant that my money went to waste for two days. She appeared on Thursday and I quickly notified Petrol, and after I sent them some Sh300, he prepared the boys and a few minutes to lunch, we heard coming noises towards the school. It was Petrol, Rasto, Alphayo and a few other villagers. They walked past the parade and started chanting “Tunataka Atlas!” Just then, another group came to school, led by Nyayo and Saphire – a teacher at our school. They were fewer but noisier and rowdier. “Atlas must go, Atlas must go!” they were chanting.

Bensouda was not shaken. She walked to the two groups and asked the leaders to join her in her office. She went with Nyayo and Rasto, and asked me to join them in her office. Nyayo explained why Atlas must never be reinstated while Rasto argued for his reinstatement. After listening to both, Bensouda asked me for my views.

“Don’t bring him back,” I said. (I wanted her to refuse so that the other group can ask for her to go. Hopefully, I would be the headteacher if she left.)

Bensouda went to address the protesters. “I have listened to all of you through your leaders and we have all agreed that I will reinstate Atlas,” she started. “Rasto please tell him to report tomorrow.”

And just like that, my chances of becoming the next headteacher died before my eyes!


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