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Friday, October 14, 2016

8-4-4 and how it almost ruined us had we let it and the teachers that made it worthwhile.

 So one evening this week after one of those days, I was in a Kawangware matatu, they were playing good reggae so  of course I zoomed out and was so engrossed in composing a story in my head for my- This Chic series- when the conductor opened the door and said, Kairitu ga kĩnoo, ũka.(girl going to Kinoo, please come) and he pressed a 20 bob coin in my palm. I was happy, he gave me my due change since they stopped before my drop off point, 20 shillings away and he didn’t shout at me to harakisha! He humanised me.

And then something clicked in my brain. A few years after high school, (many years ago) I whined a lot about the 8-4-4 system and how it wasn’t meant for people like me. And how disappointing it was to look at the University registration forms and find that none of the courses listed on the form interested me. And how scoring A’s in languages meant nothing if you didn’t have a good grade in Chemistry regardless of never having the desire to be a scientist. The thing with the system was, it taught us how to pass exams and little about co-existence with our fellow humans, just to mention one thing. You just needed the right combination, never mind the fact that maybe you liked Geography, it was  more interesting to you, than SAAAAY  History?
 I liked these

And at 15, they asked me to choose between Agriculture and Christian Religious Education.
I was scoring 80% in CRE and maybe 50 % in Agriculture. I chose Agriculture.  I didn’t understand much of it, I didn’t know which fertilizer was supposed to be put in when and which leaves made cows produce more milk. My kales wilted a week after planting and in the end I got an average grade as I expected. It didn’t help with my marks, and the days I spent weeding that kale garden didn’t make me a better farmer.

But I now know why I chose Agriculture and not CRE and ruined my chance of succeeding in the 8-4-4 system.

The Agriculture teacher. He was called Mr Gitonga. We had a nickname for him which I forgot, even the other teachers had a nickname for him. I’ll describe him. He hardly ever attended morning assembly. You would never find him in the staffroom. You could find him in the Agriculture lab, but not often.

He discouraged us from using three different colored pens to take down notes. He said “you just need to underline the headings.” He also said we didn’t need to get a new exercise book every term, “just leave a blank page to show where a new term began.” 

When he was on duty, you knew you would be ok. He didn’t stop you randomly on your way to
Downloos, (our daytime latrines) to ask where you were going, he just ignored you and you ran very quickly coz you were not sure what he was thinking. Students said he was weird. I thought he was interesting. 

He was human. He was real. And every time I went into his lectures, I didn’t learn much agriculture, but I felt enriched. He would quote from books. I went in for the valuable life lessons he taught. And while everyone was being too prim and uptight, he did his lectures and let alone the sideshows.

As he dictated notes, he would throw in a hefty speech about life. Like how teenage girls think they have everything sorted out but they do not. Later we found out he had a teenage girl in another school when she came to conduct Christian Union services during her midterm.

I have always been attracted to knowledge and honor. If I meet a person that knows more than me and is willing to share the knowledge, I want to make them my best friend. I am also drawn to people that honor themselves. People who stand up for what they know is right, people who don't get carried away. Men and women of honor.

So while 8-4-4 refused to acknowledge my desire for in-depth knowledge, I still subconsciously knew what I wanted in life, what kind of knowledge I needed.

That’s what clicked, when the konda called me Kairitu ga Kĩnoo and made me feel like a star in my own one man guitar song.

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