It’s a disservice denying youth chance to grow and toughen up

Friday December 8 2017

Mutira Girls Secondary School

Students of Mutira Girls Secondary School performing Ndumo dance during a past music festival. My advice to the spoilt city parents is: Allow your offspring to go to Chebisaas and Mutira. It is good for them and it is good for you. FILE PHOTO | ANTHONY NJAGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By Mutuma Mathiu
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Children of city slickers have been admitted to some rural schools, setting off a round of discussions and not an insignificant amount of outrage and mirth.

A child born in the high-rises of Kileleshwa, Nairobi, attended Msingi Bora kindergarten (where they are enrolled as soon as they conceived because the waiting list is long) before attending primary school in a quiet suburb, is suddenly expected to acquire a plastic bucket, and a metal box and present themselves to the headmistress of Mutira Girls Secondary School in Kirinyaga or AIC Chebisaas Girls Secondary School in Nandi County.

These are good, wholesome and well-performing rural public schools.

There is also no doubt in my mind that they are character-forming set-ups, which help children learn to share and grow up independent of their over-indulgent parents.


Equally, there is no doubt in my mind that there are many city children who will not be taking up their desks at Mutira and Chebusaas.

The average middle class 14-year-old has never left the gate of the home unaccompanied.

They have never been on a matatu alone either and they have no capacity to exist on their own – they can’t cook, they can’t go to the market, they have no life skills. It is not catastrophic, but it means they will have to bloom late and grow up fast.

When I was 14, I was in Form Two in Siakago Boys High School, I had plenty of life skills. I could swim and fish in a flooded river.

I could steal mangoes from nearby farms during outing (do they still have outings?) and I could walk five kilometres on my own to the dispensary at Siakago Market.

And it is a hot, dusty place where the cobras line up the road and wave hello as you walk by.

Hell, I even tried talking to a local girl once, though I do recall it did not go swimmingly well.

Being a tough, well-brought-up Mbeere girl with way better life skills than myself, she laughed in my face and dismissed my incompetent protestations of love in unprintable language.


I was more amused than offended and for many months later, I nearly broke my own back from the profusion of pats I gave myself for being such a brave, dare-devil “man” who was totally fearless in the face of clever and dismissive Mbeere girls.

The point? It is a great disservice to children when they grow up without being allowed to think, explore or experience life without their parents filtering reality for them.

The parental instinct to protect girls is natural and to some extent beneficial.

The motherly tendency to shield their sons from real life, on the other hand, is in my opinion, catastrophic.

Boys learn from experimenting, doing stupid things and getting hurt – hopefully not too badly. That’s how they develop confidence. If they don’t get a chance to go out and get knocked about, they will not know what they are capable of taking.

I always watch in awe whenever I see a mum take her son to school, open the car door for him, confirm that his braces are properly aligned, go down on her knees and do up his laces and then carry his bag to class. Class Eight, mind you, not kindergarten.


A boy like that will grow up with straight, white teeth, but he will hardly have the fire in the belly to fight his way through life.

A girl will have to propose to him, marry him, show him how to invest her money and fight his wars for him.

He will grow up to be the kind of young man who goes to his mother’s house often, maybe when he is not feeling well and needs a flood of sympathy, or maybe he has missed her cooking, or just missed her – even though he has a wife.

So my advice to the spoilt city parents is: Allow your offspring to go to Chebisaas and Mutira. It is good for them and it is good for you. I, of course, reserve the right not to take my own advice.


As we go into the holiday season, we need to keep in mind that many of the drivers on our roads have no sense, whatever.

They do things that endanger their own miserable lives and the lives of other law- abiding Kenyans. When you add to the mix the horrible motorcycle riders, you get a complete madhouse.

My own take is that 60 per cent of drivers should never have been licensed. And it does not matter how many, or how big, roads we build, we will still have carnage and jams.


On Thika Road, you will see these mad people overlap into the service lane, which they choke, then they overlap through petrol stations, which they also choke. In the end, nobody goes anywhere.

I have seen those long-nose matatus use the exits to enter the service lane. I have seen conductors stand in the middle of moving traffic to force other drivers make way for their matatus.

These folks must be tamed this season.