Jun 13, 2021

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

From herdsboy to Mang’u old boy: Chance and kind charity

My community doesn’t put much value to education and, since independence, studies have been taken as a privilege for the chosen few, most of whom had little or no reward to show for it.

One day, while reading my Standard Six CRE textbook, I came across a report on mission schools and my dream to join the prestigious Mang’u High School was born.

I remember excitedly telling my elder brother that I would go to Mang’u and he slapped me.

I vividly remember it as if it was yesterday.

“You have not eaten for four days and you dare joke of joining Mang’u?” he said.

“As long as God lives, I will go to Mang’u. I will also further my studies abroad”, I replied.

There was this man from Tharaka-Nithi who had been scouting for children in Turkana and Samburu counties to join his primary school. He enrolled me and I schooled for free for eight years.

I sat my Standard Eight exams and scored good grades.

After school selection, I received a brown envelope.

Inside was the most precious letter I have ever received and the first in my village with Mang’u High School printed on the top left corner.

But my joy was short-lived as disappointments followed like uninvited visitors to a lavish feast.

Having survived on scholarships in primary school, I applied for numerous sponsorships only to receive loads of regret letters.

On realising that his best candidate was on the verge of losing the opportunity of joining his dream school, the director of my primary school called on the eve of the deadline offering to take me to Mang’u High.

Pay fees

I reported on the last day and he explained that he could only pay fees for the first term and that God would take care of the rest.

In a new school with only the mattress and one set of school uniforms, I could only admire others with new dictionaries and other study materials.

I kept asking myself: “Who will buy these things for me?”

I could not get an answer.

Instead of my lack of these things breaking my spirit, it only strengthened my resolve. I reckoned that I had nothing to lose for I had crossed the second hurdle of getting to school.

It solidified my belief in God taking care of my stay. Here I was, alone in a new school, new environment and unique culture without a hint as to how my thirst for an education was to be quenched.

One day, as I walked towards the dormitory while others watched a movie, I came across an old man. He stopped and started interrogating me as we strolled, this time in the opposite direction towards classes.

“Where do you come from? What do your parents do for a living? Who brought you to this school? What does that person do?” he asked one question after the other.

A series of follow-up questions followed my responses to the first two as he keenly listened, nodding intermittently.

Orphan

“I’m an orphan, with an 80-year-old guardian. I come from a marginalised pastoral community with nothing of value that my family could sell except a lone cow and 10 goats,” I said.

“Drought would at times ravage our cattle, reducing them to producing less than a litre of milk, only enough to keep us breathing where meals were unavailable,” I went on. “One day, rustlers crossed the Ewaso Nyiro River and attacked our village, making away with 100 of our cattle.”

The old man reached for his phone and called another individual to whom he stated that he had found a student who had come with “a gun” to school and needed assistance.

From that discussion, God, the unseen Supreme Being I was told would take care of me, was revealed. The old man turned out to be the then Mang’u High principal Abraham Githuka and the stranger he had called selflessly paid fees for each of my four years. I would later come to be introduced on a Sunday as a catechist to the school chaplain, Father Daniel Kiarie.

I wish to immensely thank Mr Mwaura who taught Kiswahili in late 90s to early 2000s at Mang’u for taking me in as his son and meeting my academic needs.

Since at times transport was a challenge, the school was my home and I appreciate it for that opportunity.

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