Three years at the University of Nairobi
Three years ago, this week, I joined the best campus of the most prestigious University located in the biggest city in the greatest country in this part of the African block to study the least regarded course-BA.
The acronym has given birth to some of the most ingenious interpretations; Baba Alinituma, and at Masters level-MA-Mama Alinituma, Below Average, Being Around, Be All but over time I have come to settle with this one: Blessed Assurance.
Joining the University of Nairobi was not an option but the only choice for me. University education was the breather I needed after the turbulent and tumultuous life as a child and a teenager. Growing up under the tutelage of guardians, I needed a place to stand so that I can be me, to borrow some American slang. It was emancipation at last. Freedom from the yoke of overbearing folks, who I must confess gave me the best as humanly possible.
I joined the University as a pseudo-celeb, especially among my peers. At the time, I was contributing to the Friday Standard’s Entertainment pullout Pulse’ Rants and Raves section where we used to ask inane questions like how do we write zero in roman numbers, or even sillier why don’t they make the whole airplane with the material that they use to make that indestructible black box?
I was also contributing for Saturday Nation’s pull out, the Saturday Magazine where I sat in for Oyunga Pala(who later became a good friend and a man so down to earth to a fault), the celebrated heretic columnist, once in a while, but most of the time, my column ran parallel to his. This is what gave me reasonable mileage and respect among my peers. I also used to make some dough from my writing and lead a modest life. I was good Christian, an ardent Adventist, and alcohol was still bitter and sour.
I joined a class of incredibly talented individuals, whose creativity was simply more than amazing. I was only 21, but an almost established writer. My boy Alex Kirui was just a year shy of 20 but an award winning cartoonist and paid up cartoonist with the Nation. Actually, I received my first cheque of Ksh 7,500 from Nation for my Mantalk piece on September 1st 2007. A piece that proved that you can be anything you want to be in this world and to date I treasure it the most.
See, while I was growing up, I wanted to be Whispers. But Whispers was gone too soon. Then I stumbled upon Oyunga Pala. I loved his writing. I loved his truthful way of addressing manly issues. That was back in 2003. My only wish then was if Only I could ever live to see an article with my byline…And I started working towards it. Then came up that September Saturday and the rest as they say is history (Every Journalist and Celeb has used this line).
I have had my highs and lows in my writing. I have occupied many enviable spaces in Kenya’s leading printing press but I have nothing much to show for it. Many of whom I begun with are possibly driving but I have learnt much even so.
The aim of this blog is to explain my roller coaster journey in this University. My loveless experience and my dreamy ideal state that has often served me wrong. The friends that I have encountered, those who have stood by me for better or for worse.
I was talkin’ about my friends in my Literature class. There was Peter Oduor, a great pal of mine, the one whom I turn to when I feel like waxing philosophical and testing my often wise theories on relationships. He is a talented poet, a proven determined writer and Kenya’s (currently freelancing with the Standard) possible answer to Nigeria’s Wole Soyinka. There was Charlene Kimara, a talented girl with a passion for life and music. I do hope she will not give up and I will be pointing on telly to my peers that I once shared a class with her. There was Boniface Mwalii, my partner in crime, a man without any moral scruples and has sliced me many a time. And there was David Osiany.
In our initial Literature class, our Japanese Lecturer brought one Eddie Mbugua, the then script writer for Tahidi High to explain to us the benefits Literature in our future careers. A dark student wearing a dark Nigerian cap with a deep, commanding voice asked a question that really startled everyone. Mbugua was a little taken aback. Not so much for the question but by the way it was posed.
The whole class was silent. There I knew that a star was seated amongst us.
That very evening, while shopping (actually reading a poetry book in the bookshop instead of buying it) the tall confident man walked up to me and greeted me before giving me an easy friendly chat.
“You shouldn’t buy that book here. In town it is most likely cheaper and can save you some Ksh 50, which will be good for your airtime.”He said. I didn’t know how to express my self in English as well and opted to sheng. The negro had quite some nerve and admirable. We walked down town; he was shopping for a success card for his folks.
We became the best of buddies. Inseparable. His name was David Osiany. A talented orator who grew to become the Faculty of Arts representative in first year and the SONU chair in second year. Though he had a rather dramatic end to his career in student politics, I bet he set for higher things and wish him all the best.
Three years later, much has really transpired. I have only dated a couple of times. I have dated a pretty little thing whom I really had hots on. Her smile lit my day. She will hate this but she was a virgin and she really loved me. We had our moments. The nights we spent braving the cold outside Hall 13 are particularly memorable.
Sadly, we had to party ways. She was tired of my ever busy schedule. She wanted love and I could never deliver. She moved on and has retained her next boyfriend to date. Not bad by me.
I have tried a Facebook affair that proved awry. I tried my classmate who possess the cutest dimples but it proved a bad experiment and I hope the pretty girl will forgive me and I will summon up the courage to tell her what exactly happened.
I have had my fair share of unhealthy crushes and rejections. I’m not complaining. I have gotten used to and immune. One particular crush nearly brought me down and nearly cost my life. Overcoming the crush was the best thing that has ever happened. I remember dragging the chick into one of the lecture theatres to tell her the truth. It was sad. I felt like a sheep walking on two feet. She just dismissed me in the most casual manner in the history of dismissal. My God, did she have to be too cruel.
But more importantly I have become mature, less dependent on my sister who has been like my mother and whom I really owe the world. Sometimes when a chick calls me a chauvinist I can’t help wondering because I love women. It is women who have turned my life around; my benevolent aunt Helen, my sister Ezinah and my departed Mum whom I only saw for 11 years but whose soul drives me daily.
I will dedicate the latter part to the friends departed.
Sometime in April 2008, at the height of the SONU elections of which I was a key player in my own league, a short, seemingly humble, young man approached me and asked me to vote for him for the conressmanship of HALL 5. At the time it was about ODM/PNU. He was Luo and I could have easily voted for him for ODM ties. But my friend Marto (He calls himself Scaggs, check him on Facebook, my God where does he gets such a name, yet he so mature) had requested me to vote for him and friendship overrode my ethnic inclinations.
The young Luo chap reportedly won but was rigged. His name was Linus Onanda. Linus perished in a freaky road accident along Nairobi-Garisa road. That death gripped us and brought with I the fickleness of life. The capriciousness. We were out of session but we did manage to marshal up our energy under the able leadership of David Osiany, we went down to Siaya and gave Linus a send off as befitting as it could be to a comrade. That was a dream cut short and a terrible loss for the family. I hope that Linus is in a better place.
When I joined campus, my first roommate was a tall, quick gentleman called Simon from Thika. He bought Soda, did quick introductions and disappeared. Among the initial things we did was to sneak into the neighboring room and get a mattress with cover. In the next room, I met a young man with his peasant father ostensibly trying to have one of those father-son talks about HIV/AIDS and the likes.
The young amn’s name was Dick Kamweru. We grew to become good neighbours, never minding getting the iron boxes and any other borrowables as it is common in our halls of residences.
I remember once Dick was coming from town drunk when he decided to pick on his clothes from the clothing line. It was 3 in the morning going four.
Someone must have spotted him before letting out the murderous cry of Mwizi and all hell broke loose. He ran all his way to my room for his keys, where they had left them.
I defended him, well, and guys were convinced that he was only picking his clothes.
Dick traveled to Nakuru for a wedding and sadly perished in a road accident at only 22. I have never been more saddened. Dick, I hope you in better place too.
But the most shocking experience was the shooting of Godwin Ogato Gisairo outside Hall 11 March 2009. Ogato, though my kinsman, I had never met him on a person to person save for the occasional Hi. On the fateful night, I had stumbled upon him but just exchanged casually on the shooting of the two human rights activists along State House road; Oscar King’ara and GPO Oulu. This so far is the highlight of my stay in the University.
It was painful losing three young Kenyans quite unnecessarily and I know God will reward those behind it accordingly. We did go home to bury Ogato, it was a bitter experience. The parents and the folks felt it. I empathized with the young pretty daughter called Chelsea that Ogato was leaving behind. She didn’t know that the father was gone and gone forever. Why did the three have to die…Truth will out?
Anyway, this is too emotional for me. I have gathered my lessons.
At least I know I will never meet my future wife in college. At least I know women are as bad liars as men. At least I have learnt that campus women are the worst possible breed of women.
I know that being broke can limit one’s access to beautiful women. I know the power of peer pressure, or else beer would still be a bitter experience. I have learnt the kind of friends to trust and those not trust. I have unlearnt my prejudices and rethought my stereotypes. The most beautiful chick in our class on consensus is a Maasai.
I have given much but I have received little. But I know that there are places where I should have given more than I received but never did. I know the value of family and can never let it down.
I could have gone on but we shall be interacting on this very blog.