Three Words (that summarize your years at school):
- Trying (sometimes)
Favourite subject in school & why?
- Literature- because I love reading and also it gave me a chance to read out loud to the class. My teachers- especially Mr. Geresom Musamali- made the lessons so much fun.
Favourite food in school & why?
- Dining Hall – I liked the grout chicken because it saved us from the beans and soya. But the chicken grout experience only lasted till end of Senior One (1987)
- There was also rice and beef on special days.
Favourite story about interschool rivalry?
- Don’t remember any. Namasagali was ALONE!
Which teacher was your greatest influence & why?
- Mr. Geresom Musamali. He made me love Literature and I passed his subject. He helped me with my play-writing script skills, and guess what—we are still in touch!!
What is a message of inspiration to anyone reading this profile?
- Like the school motto, “Strive Regardless”. I remember Father Grimes’ mantra about life in school being simple, but the world out there was not. There’s hills and valleys, but in spite of all that, fight on regardless.
What is your current job/profession?
- I’m in the communications industry. A broadcast journalist, editor and writer.
What is your life motto/mantra?
- What matters is where you’re going, not where you come from.
What are you up to now in life?
- I am a mother of two young men, single, never married. I plan to go full-time into writing when I retire from paid employment. I also do a bit of farming, jewellery crafts and cooking. From time to time, I speak to young aspiring journalists.
PRIMARY SCHOOLS ATTENDED
- Westlands Primary School, Nairobi
SECONDARY SCHOOLS ATTENDED
- Namasagali College, Kamuli
TERTIARY INSTITUTIONS ATTENDED
- Namasagali University
- Reeve (Prefect) (1987- 1990)
- Lady Chief Justice (1991- 1993)
- Drama/ Play writing (1988 - 1993)
- Poetry (1987 - 1993)
- Debating (1991 – 1993)
- Swimming (Dolphins) (1987 - 1990)
What are 5 routines/rituals/cultural aspects or that you remember from school and what did they mean?
- Conference- Sunday mornings, dressed in school uniform, and we’re in the Main Hall listening to Father’s life lessons’ talk. He walked in a procession, complete with a band, also accompanied by the top student officials making small talk
- Morning Run – We ran about five kilometers along a stretch outside the school once every week to keep fit
- Dining Time – This was designed, one to keep us nourished, but two- to ensure that we all ate the same food and made small talk
- Father’s Talk to the girls— How to be ladies- e.g. not to be alone with a man in a situation where “anything could happen”; not to wear chipped cutex etc
- Running to class- It was not uncommon to see students running around the compound, especially during class-time. Walking was out of the question because it wasted time.
- Speaking to be understood- I cannot remember how many times I heard the phrase “Lengthen your vowels!”. I still speak like that. They needed to be heard.
What are at least 5 slangs you remember from school and what did they mean?
- Ombaki- I know this was someone’s name, someone from the years before we joined. But when you dodged class or the Saturday dance, and were lying on your bed, and suddenly someone whispered a loud “Ombaki!”, you automatically knew it was time to HIDE! Under the bed, in the basins, behind the dormitory door, outside in the dark. The memories are so funny.
- Buying munya- This one means “buying favour”. From a Reeve, Teacher- anyone in authority.
- Jomba – (I always felt it was used in a derogatory way.) I first heard it in my first week of Senior One when it was used to refer to colleagues from Kamuli Boys, and Kamuli girls schools. They were being called KJs, meaning Kamuli Jombas.
- Ogumpe- Also derogatory. Meaning “Imperialist”- to refer to Father Grimes, the Headmaster.
- Kadanke/ Mobali – Saturday Night Dance.
- Katwanka- Illegal booze/ Local brew
- Boge – Porridge for breakfast, and if you were one of those who were always first in the line, you automatically became a “boge jet”.
- Bwakata – brown porridge that we mixed in a cup and beat with boiling water
- Water-pest- always in the swimming pool at whatever opportunity
- Biscuit – you were favoured
- Cassava – fell in the “unfavoured” group
- Cold Power – That food that you picked from the dining hall for supper, and then kept it for after prep
- Maining or Kamaine (pronounced Kameyne)– (Jehovah! Now I don’t know the origins of this). But, this was that time between first and second prep (9pm- 9-15pm) when couples “caught up”, kissed, held each other, escorted, notes were delivered to a sick “spouse”… it was the time to “talk romance”. We had a funny teacher Mr. Simon Downie. When he was on duty, he walked among the “Mainers” shouting, “Kiss n’ Go! Kiss n’ Go!!”.
- Deep end – this was used during the dance. Woe betide a junior if you were caught in the Main Hall’s deep end during the dance.
- KB- Talk, especially interesting stuff.
“What Aspects Do You Miss about School?”
- I especially miss the fact that life was simple. The Senior One to Senior Four years were some of the best in my life. We laughed, we fell in trouble, we danced, we swam, we talked, we did everything without a care in the world.
- I miss the weekly dances. They were the highlight of the week. Dressing up- even if it meant borrowing something someone wore the last week. We always had the latest music.
- I miss some of my friends, especially those with whom there was a special connection. Now that we went our separate ways, that bond is not that strong. This was in spite of the fact that some were in different classes, it just didn’t matter.
- This one is funny when you’re not on the receiving end. The end of term before the reports are out and the Reeves come looking for those who have declined in performance. People hiding among mattresses, in empty dorms but they were always caught.
- Something I dearly miss are the beginning of term experiences- the buses at the National Theater, waiting to take us to school. It made me feel so important, and I do not know why. Getting to school and talking about your holiday, and someone demonstrating the new dance strokes.
- I miss the special dance nights. We had an arrangement called “Agape” where we had tea and bananas, or a bun. The dance was usually extended by 30 minutes.
- The pool parties.
- Sports Days when you took out your best shorts and t-shirt if you were not running.
- Drama and Elocution festivals. For Elocution, you had to recite a poem on stage and there were some really good people. They dramatized, lengthened their vowels etc. But there were also those who exaggerated everything and you’d end up laughing about it for days.
What is one thing that the school “taught” you?
- Ho! Many, many, many things. First, each of numerous rules had a lesson behind them. They are many – but they all taught me that in life you need to have structure, be mindful of yourself and other people, give it your best, be in the right place at the right time, and it also that it doesn’t take much to be confident.
- It also taught me to “Strive Regardless”- which was the motto. It taught me the law, it taught me how not to fear water (swimming across the River Nile and boating). So so so much!
What in your perspective, is your school known for?
- It is a school that combined academics with building a wholesome you- a lot of talent-building. It didn’t matter if you were last in class, there was something more than class-work about, you discovered your talents. One thing that stands out is the annual drama and dance productions.
What was your OWN most impactful memory from school?
- I contributed a lot to keeping law and order through all my years in school. Reeve (Prefect) and Lady Chief Justice. I was also a good actress through the years, taking key roles in the annual production and eventually helping out with the same when I joined the university.
What did you think you’d end up doing in life back in school and where has life brought to so far in comparison?
- I first imagined I’d study Law because it was part of the school routine, and I knew the rules like the back of my hand. And because I loved the Library, I was always reading during my spare time. Then I thought I wanted to teach. I ended up being a journalist, and in spite of the fact that it is not a 9-5 profession, I am content because I want to know and also tell others.