PART ONE : How we got to this particular night
” Sometimes, I think you can look at a person and know they are full of words. Maybe the words are withheld due to pain or privacy, or maybe subterfuge.” Writes Medeleine Thien in her book Do Not Say We Have Nothing.
It is through the words of Thien that I get the passion to tell a story. I believe that any great writer should be able to tell diverse stories. Having spent the entire year writing opinions about various political and socio economic events, the zeal of wrapping up the year with a personal story to my audience is high. I had contented to write this story probably in the third paragraph of my memoir long after my retirement probably sixty years from now , however the urge to tell a story is overwhelming which I feel resonates to many people who undergo systematic oppression throughout the world. The title looks frightening, but I guess any great writer must master the art of creating catchy headlines. It is great to understand that this is a real story and the individuals mentioned are not fictious but are true and existing. However, I have used a incognito identification for some , in form of Mr X , Y and Z Furthemore, their mention is not out of malice but recognition of the roles they played in my life at a particular point.
I must admit that my Alma mater, Alliance High School is by far the best secondary school in this country(Kenya). I am confident that it is this institution that has shaped me into an holistic personality. However amidst this greatness existed a piteouus culture of bullying and violence , a socially unacceptable culture that had been accepted as a norm. Being very critical about violence , I was quick to deviate from this systematic norm. This is because I believed that an unjust norms and laws should not be respected. St. Thomas Aquinas in Summa Theologica introduces a concept of lex inuista non estlex meaning that unjust laws , regardless of the authority should be defied by all and sundry. At least for me, a chance of attending my dream school could not be turned to a moment of torture and violence. What perplexed me the most was the fact that majority of other students made peace with violence being meted on them without raising a voice , or at least showing resistance. They instead chose to cooperate with the bullies believing that at the end of the day, a little favour who’d be showed to them. This is exactly how majority of the Kenyan middle class behaves , they are contented with deteriorated leadership. All they do is vent on Twitter how things are bad but when it comes to the delicate decision making processes they cower the most. Nobody is just ever ready to end the status quo.
“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crisis , maintain their neutrality” Dante Alighieri. I chose not to be included in this group of hell’s inferno. I chose to make the toughest decision to lead change. I believed that nobody attends their dream school only to be subjected to torture by fellow students who felt more privileged. These practices having been incorporated in the systematic norms, as soon as my first year of high school, I was labelled a crook. I brushed shoulders with bullies severally especially in my first two years of high school due to my defiant nature. However I was ready to take up the consequences, just as Martin Luther King Jr said on the March to Washington that it is our moral duty to disobey unjust laws. In line to ensure this social justice , I encountered a lot of violence meted on me including a broken tooth ,and this fateful night when the bullies found joy at inflicting pain to me. It was a painful experience, a price that I was paying for believing in what is right. Just like my mentor Abraham Lincoln had paid the ultimate price for believing in liberty, I was in the similar shoes , many years and locations apart.
I was in Form two then( second year of my high school). In order to build my holistic nature, I had joined choir earlier on – well I can also sing, tihi. It is also the year that I resolved to revolt completely from impunity at my House(Dorm) called Grieve which was notorious for brutality and tyranny for the junior boys. My resistance led to bad blood between me and those in the House Leadership. The fact that I had remained largely defiant to their bullish characters made them even more angry and they promised me that I Shall see, well I responded to them to bring it on. I remained hell bent, something that made the perpetrators of bullying extremely upset. It was the second term, and traditionally ,the House leaders became school prefects in this term. Unfortunately, all those people who were appointed to become school prefects from Grieve hated me to the core. They were the most feared but I had defied their autocracy successfulIy. Just as they hated me, I also hated them alike but my dislike was only ideological unlike theirs which was purely personal, malicious, callous, frivolous and superfluous. On the first week of June , the Abadares Regional Music Festivals took place in Nanyuki, and I can still remember the fete .However upon finishing the competitions and getting back to school, I found my bedding missing. Upon inquiry , I was informed that the Vice Chairman had taken them away. I quickly gathered intelligence that a trio of recently appointed Grieve prefects were baying for my blood. They were determined to pay back my months of defiance. Now that they were prefects , they were above the law. My intelligence further advised that the best option was to flee Grieve House and seek assylum in another House for the remainder of the term. This was on 10th of July 2016, just a week to the End term exams, having spent major part of the term in various functions, at least it was necessary to spare the last week with tranquility and prepare for the exams. However, this new developments that my blood was in for auction worried me. I quickly hatched a plan to avoid this emminent persecution.
That very evening, I consulted Miracle Mudeyi on the best way to evade the misfortunes ahead. Miracle was(is) my hommie, and a right hand man who I consulted on many matters. We agreed that I was to migrate to the Francis House Common Room ,though illegally for the rest of the Term. Francis House Common Room was populous and therefore I could not be noticed easily. We agreed that I would flee to this exile the following day . However on the next day , Miracle told me that it was going to be impossible to get exiled at Francis House because it was full to the brim, and the authorities there, being recently appointed cops carried out midnight inspections due to excitement with the newly acquired power. I therefore had to look for a quick alternative and my mind took me to ghetto. This was a group of old dilapidated dorms which were not under strict surveillance. I made a decision to seek my assylum at the ghetto to avoid this dreaded bullies. Seeking assylum is never cowardice, it only protects life and strengthens activsm. In history , some of the greatest changemakers had to flee their native lands so as to lead the process of positive change. Karl Max of Prussia, Leon Trotsky of Soviet Union, Dalai Lama of Tibet, Assata Shakuru of The US and Muhammad Gadafi are just among the notable few. In case my exile became unsuccessful, I had another plan, just like many revolutionists who are never short of survival tactics. My friend Warren Ochieng had just been appointed prefect. He is only among few friends I had who even after being appointed to power , did not allow power to get into their heads. In case the worse came to worst I would pursuade him initiate a mediation between me and his fellow three prefects who were on my neck. A handshake of a kind. I believed in Warren, I still do by the way, and I knew that at least who would not disappoint me.
On Tuesday ,12th July 2016, my intelligence intimated to me that the trio who were demanding my head like the daughter of King Herod were on the final plans to pin me down. It was an open secret that they had for a very long time wanted to settle scores with me , only that they did not have the necessary powers. Now that they had, nothing including the administration could stop them. The three individuals who I still vividly remember the then Vice Chairman of Grieve House let’s call him Mr X, a short well built rugby player , the second prefect whom we will call Mr Y, a lean student who could be mistaken for a form one and the third prefect , let’s call him Mr Z. As Howard Zin onced said, protest beyond bad laws is not a departure from order , if anything, it is an absolute ingredient for it. This philosophy of protesting against the norm of violence, autocracy, bullying, intimidation and impunity made my relationship with the above trio extremely sour. They were the main proponents of these bad laws and norms . As soon as they were appointed prefects, they were keen to retaliate all the defiance that I had showed them. Being that their language was violence, their only way of punishing me was also through violence.
At Alliance, there was a great leadership order , something I compare to the American system where there’s a distinct leadership level. While at form two, those who wanted to succeed the the House Committee later in the year had joined what was known as shadow committee. However, the shadow committee picked up the bad behaviors of those they were shadowing. In attempts to be appointed, they could go a great length including to create fabricated stories so as to please their masters. Sycophancy at its best. On Wednesday 13 July , one of my classmates Ernest Lango , who was a shadow committee of my House Grieve engaged me in a heated debate. I castigated him for being part of the system that marvelled at oppressing other students and deriving pleasure from it. Of course this did not go well with him. Understanding the poor relationship between me and Mr X and Mr Y, he took advantage and told them how I wanted to physically assault them. On that day , just before the end of the evenings preps , my mole who was also a member of the shadow committee briefed me on how my goose had been cooked and on that particular evening, I was going to see what Lot’s wife had seen at the exit of Gomora that turned her into a rock of salt. Being that I was in choir , the practices for the upcoming National music festivals were on top gear and I could not afford to miss the practices. This complicated my matrix to seek survival for that particular evening. After minutes of quick thoughts , I made a resolution to spend the night at the Music Center , an act that would make my perpetrators search for me at no avail. The music center was a no go zone for anybody that was not related to music, as a music student, a band or a choir member. For a moment I felt relieved of the worries.
I got into the music center at 9.45 pm. Together with other choir members ,we did the normal vocal practices to perfect our set pieces. One hour into the practice, that is a quarter to 11 pm , a heavy knock landed on the door. Luckily for them(bullies), and unluckily for me , I was standing just by the door. Upon opening the door ajar , I was met with the faces of Mr Y and Mr Z. It was at this moment that I realized my time to fall had come. As Aristophanes says” If we rise, we rise with honour, if we fall, it must be with honour. Yes , I was falling, but with a lot of honour. At least I was going to die with my feet standing, rather than continue living with my knees begging for my liberty. Even without excusing themselves, they grabbed me by my collar , banged the door and quickly turned descended on me with belts and blows. They notified me of how Ernest Lango had reported my alleged chest thumping, and now they wanted to confirm the broadness of my chest. Reigning in me with beating, they instructed me to run towards Grieve House Upper ironing bay.
To be continued in part 2…