This is a by-the-way: Ciara’s video of her new song, ‘Promise,’ is sooo off the chain. She’s so sexy. Plus, she’s in complete control of her body. *Gulp* I think I’m in love.
This too is a by-the-way: Anyone seen Diddy’s Press Play commercial? There’s a dude in it wearing a T-shirt with a Kenyan flag on it, & I think it reads ‘Jamhuri.’ Now that’s dope.
Anyone ever had the pleasure of living through a high school strike? Well, I’m one of them and I’ll tell you what, that’s probably the most excitement I’ve ever experienced in my little-over-a-quarter-of-a-century life, give or take a few fistfights here and there. It sucked going through it but in retrospect, was lots of fun. Please indulge me as I walk you through the experience.
My high school was in Nyeri, right at the foot of Nyeri Hill, a couple of miles from Nyeri town and King’ong’o, where they made all the good cham, though that’s another story. It was a pretty good school, so they said, and was better known as Kavau.
I was a rubble. Or is it rabble? [That’s freshman for you, Shaw & DLL.] Student morale was at an all-time low that year, for whatever reason. I think it had stuff to do with the quality of the food & the ridiculous power the prefects held over us and consequently their subsequent unfair punishments – something like that. All I know is that it all started one day when some of the 4th-formers came to our early-morning prep and threatened all of us rubbles with physical violence if we attended any classes that day. We were more afraid of them dudes than our own teachers so we had to do it. That meant that at 8 or 9 in the morning, when classes should’ve been in session, the entire student body was strolling around the school compound like it was our back yard, basking in the morning sun and sh*t.
Our beloved – NOT – headmaster, Father Hillary Wambugu a.k.a. Kahia, tried to get us into the hall so we all could talk things over but we weren’t having it. We only agreed to converge when the Provincial Commissioner came through with his entourage. Even so, it was more out of curiosity than obligation that we did it. The PC, flanked by his bodyguard and our good Father, tried to cajole us to go back to class but to no avail. Instead we started chanting something or other – I forget. All I know is that it sounded like a battle cry and that it was hyping everyone up. The PC punked out then and left, with Kahia hot on his heels.
Then it got dark.
Thus empowered by the PC’s & Kahia’s hasty retreat, some cats decided to go perfect their rock-throwing technique by busting out some windows and stuff. This went on for a quick minute till we go bored, particularly because we went unchallenged by anyone, and so went back to our respective dormitories and hung around there just acting a fool. This too got old after a while so I went and lay on my bed and started to doze off. For the first time we rubbles that day were treated like everyone else and not like slaves so I didn’t have to wash any clothes, make anyone’s bed or sing anyone to sleep that night. But that’s another story.
I awoke with a start. Something wasn’t right – there were sounds I could hear that didn’t belong. In 2 seconds everyone else in my dorm was quiet too, anxiously listening. It sounded like a bunch of rhinos were charging toward our dorm. [My dorm was named Kifaru, hence the rhino analogy.] We were looking at each other, perplexed, until one of our quick-thinking peers yelled out: “Karau!!”
And he was right, coz before you could say ati nini? the door to the dorm burst open and a swarm of anti-riot police in full riot gear [well, helmets, truncheons & plastic shields] stormed into our dorm, smacking around everything that moved. Keeping in mind I’d just been asleep, I just lay there on my bed looking at the scene unfold like I was watching a movie. It’s only when the popos started clubbing people right and left that I realized the gravity of the situation and sat up on the bed, only to see one of them running towards me with his truncheon ready, poised for a smack-down. I stood up and made for the nearest window fast as I could but the cop was too quick for me. Punk-ass grabbed the back of my shirt and yanked me back around. Pure reflex, or God for that matter, made me duck involuntarily as the truncheon struck a glancing blow to the top of my dome that didn’t hurt at all. I’m sure the left side of my face would’ve been bashed in or something had I not ducked, as much force as he’d swung that sucker. I didn’t wait for the 2nd swing, but rather made a beeline for the door fast as I could. Apparently I was fast enough coz in a flash I was outside the dorm and following everyone else to the football/soccer field, which was like a quarter-mile from my dorm.
Adrenalin is an amazing hormone, ladies & gentlemen. When’s the last time you ran full tilt for a quarter of a mile without breaking a sweat or breathing hard? Well, that’s how it was. I ran, amidst the masses, to the football field and got there feeling like I’d been strolling in the park, smelling the flowers.
Pretty soon the entire student body was in the field. The popos regrouped, formed their infamous impenetrable wall and started advancing on us. Emboldened by our strength in numbers, we picked up and threw at them as many rocks as we could find in the near-darkness, with little or no effect on them since the rocks simply glanced off their helmets or shields. At some point the volley of rocks was so intense that we dissuaded their progress, so they resorted to their next tactic – tear gas.
I only caught a whiff of it from a canister that spewed its ungodly contents in close proximity, but that was bad enough. That sh*t is nasty. Not only does it irritate the eyes, but it wreaks havoc on the respiratory system too. That did the trick tho, coz everyone dispersed from the canisters and headed for the nearby woods. That turned out to be a great idea coz the popos didn’t dare venture in there; that would’ve been a death wish for them, and they knew it. We’d have had a field day with them in there. Punks.
Mob psychology is interesting. As in, I didn’t even stop to think about anything; I just followed the crowd into the woods. Let me try and paint this scenario for you:
Picture about 1,000 students running into the woods in unison – via one narrow trail with gnarling tree roots all over the path. Everyone’s scared sh*tless, adrenalin pumping and everything, running at top speed. It’s almost inevitable that one poor soul would trip on one of those roots, and one poor soul did. Dude fell face-first. In a flash there were 5 other dudes tripping over him and sprawling, they in turn bringing down 10 others. I saw them too late and by then was already well on my way to joining the dogpile. I immediately tried to stand back up but someone tripped over my arm and another kicked the back of my head so hard I almost blacked out. I curled my arms around my head, braced myself and tried to stand up again. I did, miraculously, and joined the melee deeper into the woods.
We finally slowed down and, after confirming that the cops weren’t after us, pitched camp at some clearing. Like before, I wasn’t tired at all, though I must’ve done a couple of miles at least.
It was cold as anything and all I had on were shorts, an undershirt and those indestructible Bata shoes; no shirt, sweater or socks. Luckily, someone had matches and good boy scout fire-starting skills coz they got a fire started. There was nothing but trees around us – fuel - so we fed the flicker till it became a bonfire. For a quick minute everything seemed alright, till it started to rain. Imma tell you this tho – that’s when the cold to the bone phrase really hit home coz yo, I’d never been so cold in my life. I had to lie in the dirt and curl into a ball just to keep warm, all the while flexing my extremities to keep them from freezing in place. Thankfully the rain eventually stopped and I managed to drift off into a frigid sleep of sorts, dreaming about being all cold and stuff.
It seemed like eternity before the sun peeked out. At daybreak I looked around and discovered that I’d inadvertently lay on poison ivy – or its Kenyan equivalent – and that it had stung my exposed skin like crazy. Then I looked around some more and realized that I’d gotten off easy. Some dudes had suffered broken bones and strained ligaments while the rest looked like castaways – and so did I.
We had nowhere else to go but back to school, so we avoided that one trail through the woods and used a circuitous route to get back. Luckily the popos were long gone so we just shuffled back to our dorms and got knocked out or hit the showers. We were sooo tired and miserable and must’ve looked the part coz no one told us to go to class, or anywhere else for that matter. The next day though, we were all suspended for 2 weeks and asked to return with our parent[s]/guardian[s].
And there it is, one of Kavau’s strikes, narrated by one who lived though it.
The story goes that when the cops came to chase us into the woods, some dude was asleep in one of the dorms, dead to the world. Everyone else had left but him, so the cop that found him in there knew he was easy prey and so smacked the dude upside the head. Dude woke up hurting, saw the cop and the poised truncheon and was like: Unanipigia nini? So the cop walloped him again. Enough said, dude made for the woods like the rest of us, though butt naked.