Diaspora Stories: Tragedies And Drama Punctuate Early School Life

Diaspora Stories: Tragedies And Drama Punctuate Early School Life
Diaspora Stories: Tragedies And Drama Punctuate Early School LifeI went to school five years before Kenya got independence from the British. There were different school systems to cater for the European, Asian and African communities. The African school system was designed to provide education to Africans and only give them rudimentary skills for the European labor market. Asian education system was designed to provide staffing for junior clerical jobs. European education system catered for the children of the British colonial masters and any other Europeans for the best jobs in the market.

The African education system in Kenya reinforced the colonial authority which the British did not want questioned. It was also an indoctrination system of some untruths. I remember reading books which had wrong facts like………………..”Mount Kenya was discovered by Ludwig Krapf” and “Mt Kilimanjaro was discovered Johannes Rebmann”. The truth of the matter is that Krapf and Rebmann were the first Europeans to see the mountains but not the “discoverers” of the two mountains. Many of the untruths in the system remained in the books for a long time and were not corrected until much later after independence.

For the Africans there were several levels of education – Primary School from Standard one to Standard 4; Intermediate School from Standard 5 to Standard 8. To qualify to get into Intermediate School one had to pass CEE (Common Entrance Examination). This was an examination done at the completion of four years of Primary School Education. Only a limited number of students passed and qualified to get admitted to Standard five in the Intermediate School. Those qualifying to standard five and continuing to standard eight sat for KAPE (Kenya African Preliminary Examination).  At this level also, only a few African students managed to pass KAPE. The British colonial system had designed this education system to limit the number of Africans so that they do not seek further education. In fact, many who qualified proceeded to teacher training colleges to become teachers.

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When I started my primary school education, my parents who were both teachers gave me extra tuition and I always had an edge over my classmates. When time for the CEE came I was well prepared. Although I was nervous at the examination hall, I passed my CEE and qualified for admission the following year to Standard 5. This achievement was so prestigious to me as I now wore a uniform differentiating me from the Primary School children. My status was enhanced as villagers kept talking about me when I passed their homes in the morning on my way to school and back in the evening.

However, my pride of walking to school every day in the Intermediate School uniform was short lived.  My father got me transferred to Queen of Apostles located in Kiserian, Ngong the following year to continue standard six. This was a boarding school at the foot of the Ngong Hills. At that time Ngong Hills were only inhabited by wild life. There was no human settlement in 1964.  Buffaloes, lions, hyenas, and savannah game roamed the Ngong mountain range. Although the school was fenced some of the animals would occasionally stray into the compound. Two lions strayed in the school compound at night and just near the dormitory, roared causing the dormitory doors to rattle as lions roared in turns. This was a very scaring moment of my life but after about an hour we could hear the lions roaring far away. They were gone.

On Sundays we used to go for walks after lunch in the neighborhood. On this particular Sunday we took the earthen road towards Ngong town. We had gone quite a distance when we met two Maasai warriors clad in “shukas” shining with red-ochre on them. As the Maasais walked from the opposite direction to meet us a strong wind blew their “shukas” leaving them completely naked. Upon seeing the Maasais nudity, two of my classmates laughed so obviously that the Maasai knew the laughter aimed at them and was a ridicule to their nudity. The two Morans stopped walking and shouted loudly a “war cry” and charged ready to attack us with their spears.  I was the first to shout the only Maasai word I knew “Iru” and raised my hands to surrender. Upon seeing this the Maasai stopped the charge. For more captivating stories please join the author in “Life Lessons of an Immigrant” for details of “the life trajectory of a person with tribal roots coming to live a modern lifestyle, halfway across the globe in the USA”. Visit  https://johnmakilya.com and order for your copy from www.Amazon.com. Should you want an autographed copy please call the author at: 617-653-8386.

By John Makilya


Diaspora Stories: Tragedies And Drama Punctuate Early School Life

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