We would sit in those tiny overcrowded classrooms, fumigated by the pungent smell of sweat emanating from hydrophobic teenage boys, and imagine campus in huge imposing academic walls, white haired professors with equally white intellectual mustache and intelligent light skinned girls in skimpy dresses. And we would grin sheepishly at the thought of the latter.
We would imagine ourselves strapped in suits, a pile of books bulging from under our arms, walking in that famous academic angle to or from the library while engaging in intellectually stimulating discussions like the scholars we are. We saw ourselves at the top echelon of the student union leadership, valiantly calling out the government for many of her grievous sins, giving stern speeches in eloquent and sophisticated English while quoting modern Philosophers from Karl Marx to Niccolo Machiavelli and to the greatest of them all, His cleverness Stivo Simple Boy who said and I quote: “inauma, lakini itabidi uzoee.”
Do not be embarrassed if you have never heard of Marx and Machiavelli, most of these people with fancy degrees have never heard of them either. But everyone knows Stivo Simple Boy, see why I say he is the greatest?
In our naivety and delusions of grandeur, we studied hard believing that our dreams awaited us in the lands yonder, and can you blame us? We were 17, in form 4, showered only twice a week and Babu Owino had just invented the famous comrades Tibiiim! Comrades Tialala! Mantra. What were we supposed to think? Eeh?
A year later, we would knock on the campus’ celestial gates, pulling on our heavy suitcases stuffed with everything, except the KEMSA money and escorted by a few members of our clan, all excited by the prospects that their kinsman would be getting the best training this country has to offer.
You know it when you walk into a free world. It must be the same experience everyone has when they visit my cousin Barry wuod Alego Kogelo in the US. The freedom was in the very air we breathed, transcending even our wildest imagination, we could almost taste it. This would be the dawn of our first year in campus.
And then soon we would realize that our imaginations of the University grandeur were just as delusional as any promise made by a politician. Inside these imposing academic walls was just a bunch of bored, hungry, poorly paid dons and clueless hormone ravaged students who exist only for the gratification of drinks and debauchery.
Our first year in Campus remains perhaps the most delirious period in our lives. Nothing really made sense. Nothing was as we thought it would be. We moved about in a state of trance especially after painfully learning that the light skinned girls in skimpy dresses were not as intelligent as we had hoped because they kept throwing, “it’s the audacity for me” into their every statement like that old man who threw his very expensive phone on the floor to demonstrate his ire during a live TV interview.
And then we would learn that the campus dating scene requires something more than just some devilish banter and charming wit, but that was not even as disappointing as knowing that the time when comrades actually stood for something, when student leaders could call a press conference and reprimand the government – that time when the comrades were guided by their desire for democracy, equality, justice, righteousness and the rule of law was long gone with the graduation of James Orengo from the University of Nairobi and was actually buried with fiery student leader Tito Adung’osi .
Now student leaders stand for nothing. Not even for the simple reason that they have feet. The only thing other than nothing that they can do is blog about tangatanga wheelbarrows and the BBI for paltry handouts and clout, while the government is tripling University school fees every waking day. So much for the defiant spirit of the comrade.
In first year we got lost in ourselves. Not knowing our place in the order of things, we hang about derailed, hoping that we would breathe long enough to actually matter. And then one evening, I bumped into my friend Mathayo, who, on the first day of making him acquaintance said to me: “Jakom, you cannot just sit here and collect dust like an old probox, even an old probox drink fuel. Here is a tumbler, swallow some keg.” And my life within these academic walls has been blissful ever since.
Besides studying computer science at Kisii University, Tonny Ogwa is a contributing writer for a number of publications. When he is not writing, he is googling is name because he is always busy. You can reach him on firstname.lastname@example.org and for more of his tales, visit www.kioo.co.ke under LIFESTYLE section.