Our school, under the new management of a principal who did not know how we had been governed all through had become a hell of a place. He introduced an entire set or rules that affected us adversely in his benefits. Obedient and smart boys go to boarding high school and return home as redundant, hard headed and stiff like a rock. They are changed boys and in most cases, to the worst. High school is the one of the places that could make a young man a bad man for the rest of their lives.
It came a time when one student whistled at a lady teacher who had recently been employed inside the school.She was strikingly beautiful and a spectacle to all the boys in the school.
The deputy principal received the news with anger and called upon all the teachers at the staffroom. We were lined up outside our class kneeling on the hot ballast and caned by the entire teacher’s board. The worst and most painful thing is that they continuously hit the same section of our fleshless gluteal tissue . Most of the students headed to the infirmary department for treatment due to extreme redness, excruciating pain and swelling at one section of their ‘seats’ especially the right side. Most students did not take it fairly. The fact that only one student whistled and the entire squad was punished. This made the students mad and deeply angered.
The toilets were in a poor condition. They were
Ramshackle and Very poor indeed! The fact that you had to use gymnastics to perform your ceaseless emissions because of fear of falling inside the pit hole, explains the crude state. The kind of toilets that you do not close the door at night so the moon can at least act as a torch to help you ‘not miss’ the pit hole. The bad thing was when there was neither moon nor stars. The scene at the morning for the cleaners was a mess. Our continuous cries for the management of the toilet crisis fell on deaf ears as the response got us shocked. Those who reported issues about how bad the state of the school was were kept in check and as ringleaders in influencing students. The prefects’ body became so useless and devoured off their powers.
The thing that touched us most and sent our hearts into bitter spots was the removal of the school canteen. The canteen is usually the lively hood of our school such that we would get better foods to eat than the usual stuff at the dining halls. The principal deemed it as a place where students exchanged drugs and other illegal stuff. What the principal did not know is that he was starting a secret revolution inside the school. After about two weeks, the issues that had been sold at the canteen were now been circulated secretly around the school. These were bread, ‘maandazi’ cakes etc. some students sneaked and brought them inside the school selling them at exorbitant prices to cater for their ‘sneaking’.
The secret groups reigned from form 2 and 3. They had already established contacts with the watchmen and some teachers. They had enough money to pay them almost daily so that they would pretend that nobody sneaked outside. The watchmen got at least something closer to their monthly salary hence could not try reporting the unruly students. This worked and the cartels operating inside the school grew bigger and bigger. Learning inside the school had now converted to business dealings. If one sneaked items worth Ksh. 10, he would sell them at Ksh. 20. Due to the demand and insatiable hunger for such items, the students would in fact scramble for the items. This continued for a while.
It was not long since bhang, cigarettes and certain brands of alcohol found their way into the institution. Students were the blacksmiths and buyers of these illicit. Business was flourishing in school in silent. Only the watchmen and the secret teachers knew everything that was happening. Inside the class, some teachers noted the red eyes and those grotesque faces that would scare a new female teacher to bits but they did not say anything. Nobody could guess the idea of bhang or any drugs inside the school. In a class of 80 students, at least 45 students could have a roll of bhang or a bottle of alcohol in their lockers. They had that brotherhood that one could not betray. They communicated with signs and methods that were so secretive.
The once good boys had turned to be slaves to drugs. They did not sneak outside school to buy the drugs; but they needed it for their upkeep in school. Gradually, most students started having loss of taste for the usual foods at the dining halls. The prices skived high when watchmen were changed and needed a skilled effort to sneak. After some moments, the new watchmen could bond easily with the students after receiving cash almost equivalent to their monthly salary. This was the life. Money speaks everywhere even in our youngsters life.
bhang had become a staple food
They had the money to spend. The money their parents gave them while at home. Some students had phones that received Mpesa messages at least every day. It was business again; if I have a phone and you use it to transact, that is a charge you have to pay me.
The principal did not spend time with the students. He saw them in bad light . He knew nothing about this small guerilla groups. The watchmen and teachers informed him that the school was running okay and at its best. This kept him off bay of what was really happening. Due to continuous scorns of the prefect body as ringleaders while airing the students grievances he no longer received news from them. They escaped him like a plague lest they got expelled.
There came this moment when some guys were caught red handed by the principal secret advisor who reported the students to the principal. There was an immediate assembly called upon which saw the students expelled, the watchman expelled and the teacher on duty warned. Some Ksh. 24,000 was also recovered from the students. The boys who had been expelled were the once who used to sneak and bring stuff inside the school. There was a gross reduction of the addictive products that made the entire cartel wonder how they would be getting drugs. They needed the drugs urgently. This was the time someone would give you Ksh. 500 for a cigarette worth Ksh. 20 because they needed it badly. Some boys managed to sneak and on their way back, they were captured by the watchman and expelled. This made the boys furious.
The last solution was freedom. They wanted freedom to do what they wanted. They did not have the canteen, the drugs, the principal did not listen to them, and the teachers beat them like mangy dogs. They planned to burn the school. After setting the plan, a motorcycle ferried six petrol jerricans at a secret place on the school’s fence at around 7.30pm. The students picked up the petrol cans and immediately rushed to the dormitories after prep time had started. They poured the petrol on the student’s beds (mattresses and blankets). They later put the mattresses in the ceiling and splashed petrol on the ceiling walls. They did the acts on almost six dormitories. Later on before setting the place ablaze, they inserted used fire extinguisher cans and gas cylinders. They then set the place ablaze, rushed and settled in class with the good fish in the flock.
After about 10 minutes, there was a shout and cries as students rushed to the dormitories to try save their items. Everybody rushed outside to observe the horror before them. No sooner had they approached the dormitories than the first gas cylinder exploded producing the sound of a grenade whilst increasing the fire thrice the intensity. Before the fire extinguishers Lorries arrived nor the students saved their items, the other four cylinders exploded torching and bringing down the roof of the entire undetached dormitories.
In that fracas, the students who needed bhang and other drugs had already taken the opportunity to flee and buy their commodities. Most students did not even care about ransacking anything nor what that was happening. They just watched in amusement. They had been bored with school life. Only a small fraction of students was engrossed in trying to save the school. Some even cried as they watched their items go down on flames. Some wanted to do their exams and go home in peace. The ingenious act had already happened. The arson-perpetrators had completed their job and their mission too.
Only a small fraction of boys is worse and they go on infecting the innocent flock inside the school. This is the trend in schools. The kind of students in today’s generation is different from the generation of our parents. Principals should know what the modern day kid is composed of, their dos and donts too and also what that could make them rebellious. This is something that teachers are not taking into consideration. Caning and punishment does not help, it steers the momentum of gaining power to burst at last. Let students stay in school feeling free and not restricted. That feeling of restriction makes it worse for a modern day kid to survive. While a majority enjoys high school, there is a breed that will never find restrictions important; they will see all problems inside the school as directed to them thus leading to such acts.
Regards:Mohamed Tokal a student at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Pursuing a Bachelor in Business Administration (BBA) With Information Technology(IT)