I accepted my dad’s offer to go to boarding school and the following term he accompanied me to my new school together with my late Aunty Judy. Now here is the thing about Aunty Judy, she was beautiful ……like very pretty. I would show her off to my friends as my very pretty aunt. She was a teacher with two children. The cool aunt who bothered to know the latest sheng’ words, unlike my Dad who would say ‘maprofesho’ to mean professionals, then brag to the entire universe that he was a sheng’ expert. *Sigh*… that old man was quite something. Death took them both….sad.
So anyway, Sega Girls Primary School was a boarding and day school located in Sega town, a small town at the periphery of Siaya County near Bumala. Dad booked for us a night Easy Coach bus and when we got to Sega, we were hosted by Aunty Judy’s friend who lived there. After a short nap and freshening up, I was ready to go. I still remember how walking through the gates of Sega Girls Primary School felt. It was a mixture of dread, uncertainty, anticipation and regret…. but mostly regret. I had accepted this deal because I was running away from the shame that came with incident of hitting Martin. I was also taking a break from my fights with my sister Nyawanda and her constant reports to mum. But deep down I was gonna miss her, mum, dad, Kavevi and Filly. There would be no TV! Fuck no radio! I was going to miss my friends. I also had no idea of how this new place would treat me. Would it be kind? Or Cruel? The Sega Girls’ gate hosted a painting of a school girl wearing the uniform and the school motto. The path leading to the administration block had neatly planted trees on its edges. On the left of this path, was the playing field and on the right, there was a water tank and a number of classrooms painted green and white.
We got to the administration block and were received by the guidance and counselling teacher, Madam Grace. She was a bubbly, petite, dark lady who was also Aunty Judy’s friend (my aunt had so many friends). Madam Grace led us to the registration desk amid some chit chat with her friend. These two ladies were very excited to see each other. After registration, I was led to the dormitories by a student called Sharon. She helped me spread my bed and unpack my things from my metal box. She also gave me a brief tour around the school. I then had to go and bid my old man and aunt farewell. I think that was the worst part of that day. My old man hugged me and said, “Soma kwa nguvu mum.” He would always say that each time he dropped us at school anyway, but on this day there was scintilla of sadness in his massive eyes. He hated goodbyes just like me. I think I almost cried because at that moment, it felt like I was being abandoned, but really I was the one who accepted this in the first place.
Life in Sega Girls was brutally eye opening. Here games were compulsory! Chimooooo! I joined the net ball team after assessing the safest game to indulge in, only to be kicked out after a few weeks by the coach, Madam Gonzaga. Here, female teachers were addressed as ‘Madam’ unlike in Westlands where we would call them ‘Miss’ or ‘Mrs.’ Madam Gonzaga accused me of being a terrible player who ran away from the ball! Such a drama queen if you ask me! If I choose to disassociate myself with the ball, shida iko wapi? *rolls eyes* We also had weekly cross country marathons and I was always among the last. The games teacher Mr Oriwo, would always ask, “Opondo why can’t you run? You are so petite but still you can’t run?” In Sega, canning ilikuwa kama ibada! C.OM.P.U.L.S.O.R.Y! We would be canned for anything and everything! I remember Mr. Odhiambo, the Science teacher once canned the all Luos in his class for not knowing what spirogyra is called in Dholuo! Like how the fuck were we supposed to know that? There was also a ceremony called ‘Kamkunji’ which basically involved being canned by ALL the teachers after exams! Can you believe that? As long as you scored marks below 400, ungekula kichapo ma fren! And to think that Westlands Primary had minimal canning yet I still complained.
Punishment involved a number of activities such as weeding the nappier grass, washing the latrines or dormitories or classrooms, kneeling on sun scotched pebbles in front of the administration block, canning (like duh!) or even worse washing the pig sty or transporting pig waste to the farm a phenomenon we called ‘kuchodho.’ Let me just make it clear that when there was a lot of manure to chodho, and few to no students to punish, then the teacher on duty would task whichever class that he/she pleased to do it. Oh! And the manure was transported using our bathing buckets and basins. That triggered my eczema all the time, but in this place, no one gave a fuck! People were out there dying of chronic illnesses na wewe unalia eczema? Oh please! My first farm work punishment was unforgettable. A city girl who had never held a jembe all her life was given a portion of the nappier grass field to weed! Wueh! Nilitii! But shout out to Faustine Nafula who took pity on plight and came to help me. The blisters on my palms and the itch on my skin! Ni Mungu tu anajua! I remember my cheeky desk mate Margaret Mutuli! She got us into a lot of trouble! The number of punishments we did together! We would also compose songs which we never got to record. Life in Sega was so difficult, and the only time we would get music was during mass, morning assembly (read singing national anthem and a chorus) and the entertainment on Sundays (here we had Afro Cinema shoved down our throats). So we composed songs to help us get by. Mutuli is now a married woman and a mother, how time flies!
This school was run by a nun, Sister Dominic. Honestly, I can count the number times I saw Sister Dominic smile. She was a tall, no nonsense woman who could cane you properly! Kiboko yake ilikuwa extra painful haki! Attending the Sunday Catholic Mass was C.O.M.P.U.L.S.O.R.Y! Whether you were catholic or not! This included partaking of other catholic practices such as the way of the cross and praying the rosary. There was liturgy prefect whose JD involved writing the names of and reporting those who dozed off during mass and rosary prayers. I featured on that list……a lot. We would also go for mass every week day morning at 5:30 am! This was compulsory for students in standard 1-6. How I missed my Westlands Primary days! There were also dormitory prayers lead by our matron Aunty Tina, before bedtime. These were done mostly to help us calm down from the stories of ‘ghosts’ that resided in the bathrooms near the nappier grass fields and the latrines near the fence which was the boundary between the school and the mortuary of the neighboring missionary hospital. Lakini kuna shule ilikosa story za ghosts? Other times we prayed to be safe from the canning juu kiboko huko ilikuwa inaweza kukupata anytime!
Water was scarce in this place and from time to time, we would go to the nearby stream to fetch water. My eczema guys! But again, no one gave a turtle’s butt crack! I had to learn how to survive like everyone else. The food was terrible and still scarce! Mama Njoki, the head chef would ensure that each student was served just enough. My first day at the dining area was such a shocker! I remember wondering how people consumed that food and most importantly, how I was going to consume that for a whole term. The githeri had weevils as a special ingredient and every stew had water as its largest component, save for the pork. They used to serve some really delicious pork. But after kuchodho, I expect nothing but the best pork chokeee! Omena was part of the diet and I remembered how my sisters and I would ‘carry our noses’ whenever mum cooked omena at home. Funny how nowadays I am an expert at making omena (sijipigii debe facts only. Kuja kwangu ujionee). The plates used were metallic (sema kuchomeka ukitoka kuserve) and eating using spoons or forks was a foreign concept. We ate everything using our natural God given spoons ma fren! At the end of the first term, my old man could not believe his eyes when he saw my report card. I had improved, tremendously, from getting 24% in Math to getting 92%! I was no longer the bottom of the class but was proudly seated at number 6 out of over 40 students! He was so happy! Finally his little girl was excelling in class! He also noticed how much weight I had lost but that was just collateral damage. Any teacher’s child will tell you that having a teacher for a parent means that when it comes to school work, you either excel or excel!
When I got to class seven, the deputy head teacher Mr. Nyapoto thought that I would make the best assistant time keeper. Despite my resistance to this appointment, Mr. Nyapoto was hell bent on his resolve. He was the kind of teacher that you never wanted to mess with. He oozed sarcasm from here to Soweto Slum and served hot slaps that would make you see stars in the dark! He was the one who coined the term, ‘Evergreen Nyarsega’ to mean how the students of Sega Primary School never knew anything, they were as green as the color of their uniform. I thought teachers were supposed to be encouraging and stuff. You know.. make their students realize their full potential lakini wapi? This was Sega Primary, where no one gave a fuck! I never really understood why Mr. Nyapoto chose me as the time keeper because to be honest, I was always among the late comers, preps time, lunch time, games time (especially this one) you name it! I lost count of the number of times I was canned for ringing the bell late or forgetting to ring it all together. Plus that bell was too heavy for my petite frame. It took a lot of lessons from the senior time keeper Winnie Obonyo and a lot of determination from my end, (nilijizatiti tititi!) to master the skill of ringing that bell.
My class mates were the best! I remember how our class made an really awesome skit for a certain Parents’ Day under the guidance of a girl called Linda Laureen. That skit was so funny. it made my mother proud of my acting skills. We had all characters in our class, the quiet Matilda (chopy was daro), my twin Yvette Sandra, the no nonsense class prefects Ray Oloo and Julie Kezie (lakini hawa wasee walikuwa wananionea), the bubbly Wilfrida (huyu dem alikuwa na energy excess), the opinionated Martha Ochanda, my hommies Bella Gillo and Josephine, the head girl Elizabeth, the funny Edwina and Gladys and everyone else who made life in Sega memorable. Looking back, Sega Girls molded me into the person I am today. I became less of grumbler and learnt to appreciate the little things in life. Sega made me toughen up and I became more disciplined. I realized that sometimes no one gives a fuck and you need to accept that. That the world owes you nothing and it never will. I learnt how to be independent. But despite all the struggles that came with Sega Girls uniform, we were still the most prestigious primary school in that town. Heck the who is who of Sega Town had enrolled there kids at this school! We were given preferential treatment during the catholic mass and inter-school games. We had the keys to the town ama ukipenda sisi ndio tulikuwa tunatesa kijiji!
Honestly, I am grateful for that the Sega Girls experience but one thing is for sure, If I get kids, I will never take them to a boarding primary school. Can you believe that when I was in Sega, there was a baby class child in boarding school? Even I could not believe it!
Guys this is my last post for 2018. It has been a crazy year. I was kicked out of my comfort zone…….a good one. I have learnt a lot from experiences, people and (mostly) mistakes. I got heartbroken but still loved fiercely. Made friends and foes alike. Despite it all, I am grateful for your support. Am thankful for the time you spare to read this blog, the comments, the likes. Penda nyinyi sana. Have a merry Christmas and happy new year. Wacha sasa nikabook basi ya kwenda Ugunja dala!