Tough Times Don’t Last But Tough People Do
In 2003 I sat for my K.C.P.E, the only year in my schooling life that I was not sent home for school fees arrears, thanks to president Kibaki’s free primary education policy, mark you Ngunyumu primary school in korogocho was as cheap as a ball gum not even PK. My KCPE registration fees were paid by a political aspirant. My mum’s love for education was in conflict with her empty pockets.
I performed averagely I was a C student who my teachers constantly reminded that I was an A material I didn’t believe them how could I when the worst sound for me was the last bell signifying we had learnt enough for the day, as other pupils danced to its tune I had silent tears it was time for me to go sell milk from Glucola to Kariobangi approximately 3-5 km, I did my homework in the houses of customers who had kids in the same class I was, I didn’t have any other time to do it was a better excuse than we couldn’t afford the text books.
I would be back home by 11:30 pm and that’s the time we would start cooking our supper which would
be ready by 1:00pm thank God we never slept hungry. Thanks to my determined poor mother.
Joining high school was a tough nut to crack, my best friend Gabby joined our lady of Fatima, the best school in our locality, in my illusion I was convinced I was going to join him, the thought of having your best friend as your classmate.
My mum came with the uniform, a brown trouser, a brown sweater, a white shirt and brown and white striped tie, ” where are the shoes I asked? She pointed at shoes I had worn from class 6.
They were “laughing “ which meant torn at the front. It took the intervention of her friend for me to get a new pair, the last shoes she bought for me.
I remember the day I joined high school it was a cold Tuesday morning. I walked behind my mother, my head lowered, my face frowned and shoulders dropped. The question on my mind was huku tunaenda wapi ? ( where are we going? ) We walked past houses made of iron sheets, mud and some just nylon. Korogocho Glory high school was our destination.
It had a primary school and had just started a high school it had only one class room. I entered to find only four students inside. I was the fifth student in the entire school.
Behind our classroom on the left were shanties made of iron sheets and mud so close that we would hear the “ssssssss” sound made from a nicely cooked Ugali you guessed right omena was next, and the teacher is serious eti trying to teach Pythagoras theorem, on the left was Nairobi sewage that is deceivingly put on the maps as Nairobi river behind it was largest dumpsite in Africa and for the next four years our nostrils would come to be used to the poisonous smoke and stench that emanated from the dumpsite though once in a while the aroma of the omena would squeeze in between.
Our school fees was 2500/- (two thousands five hundred shillings) a term, not a month still by the time I finished high school I had an outstanding arrears that I was denied K.C.S.E certificate instead the teacher wrote a letter “ To whom it may concern, I confirm that Hassan Hamza was a student at this school he can not be given his certificate because of his 12,000ksh school fees balance, Stamped” it was official I presented it whenever I went looking for manual labor or college sponsorship opportunity.
Even though we were in the third world within a third world we were determined to do well in our exams. We sat for our K.C.S.E and had a C mean score, record that is yet to be broken 13yrs later.
Life after high school was even more challenging for a Youngman born in a neighborhood where distinguishing dinner from danger was an essential life skill.
I joined community serving organizations as a volunteer where I met people and opportunities that helped shape me become the person that I am today.
Tough times don’t last but Tough people do.
As my grandma would say there is no one with a rock placed over his head, which means ; every one can make it, or simply put : UNAWEZA