Mark Kaigwa

Back to the “Old School”

In Perspective, Real Talk on April 15, 2009 at 7:02 am
My High School Trunk...Just kidding!

My High School Trunk...Just kidding!

Taking it back to when it all began, while rumbling through my casket of a boarding school trunk,and finding the inaugural issue of The Laiser Beam. The very first magazine I ever wrote for, the first place I ever got published.

Published ‘by students for students’ in July 2005, the copy was an unbelievable 38 -pages long, and the first publication of any kind coming out of the school. Held together by 3 staples along it’s spine, and highly pixelated pictures with plenty of unrecognizable class pictures. It was a smash-hit with the students.

A budding writer in my final year of government education, I was glad to have two articles published in the issue, a first for the young 17 year-old journalist and soon-to-be blogger. And for your reading pleasure, here is the first one verbatim.

BREAK-TIME EXPOSED!!! By Mark Kaigwa
A slight caution before you read this article, what you will read will change you permanently. It will change the way you view the student body completely…Consider yourself warned! There are plenty of sayings to put the point across, “Only the strong survive”…”Survival for the fittest” and “It’s a dog-eat-dog world.” Well, they all apply now.


Welcome to break-time in Laiser Hill.


As soon as the bell rings, the mind slows and shuts down and begins calculations as the seat becomes harder and harder to sit on. The second the teacher sets foot outside, it’s a dash for the door. Looking at the tuck-shop all the way from class and it hits you that you’re already too late. People are shouting and squeezing through to give their orders.
But you don’t stop running, no, you can’t. Lest you have to spend half your break time shouting and jostling to get your order heard by ‘Madam.’ Physical fitness and endurance are a must. Nothing is bought or brought on a silver platter.


FACT: If you don’t break a sweat, you get no break.


There are at least 12 people, most being sweatier and of larger stature than you, constantly moving in and out of the window.
But not so fast, you need to look for a stepping stone or be ready to get your shoes muddy. As soon as you’ve balanced well on a stone, with your money firm in your hand, you need now to get to the window. Not forgetting that time is running out. The hardest is yet to come as you nudge and budge your way through the army of red sweaters you see the window and manage to finally squeeze your hand through one of the bars.


By then, you realize that you are partially deaf on one side because of someone, lets call him Mr. Pre-mandazi-breath both salivating and shouting into your earlobe trying to catch the attention of ‘Madam’

FACT: With your soft voice, you will be there until lunch but a deep commanding voice gets you a full stomach.


After buying, getting out is twice as hard as getting in, with your hands full, you don’t want to drop something or trip. You are now ready to go eat where the boys are at. There are way too many ‘bases’, behind the library, in front of it, under the tree, ‘parents park’…


With everybody and their own weird mixture of foods, crisps, drinks, powders and biscuits its no surprise that the nurse is always open at lunch time. And she’ll need all the luck she can get.

The thing I love about this article is the fact that it was sincere, witty and expressed moments that everybody in the school was familiar with. It was probably one of the best received articles I wrote, especially because I never presumed it would garner as much support as it did. Teachers, students, and even ‘Madam’ of the tuck-shop. She secretly thought I was trying to uncover her evil ring of chips-smuggling, where she would bring in French-fries by night and sell them to students, under the administration’s nose…Oops, there I go, ratting her out! How could I when I was one of the people who would leave her with a ‘deposit’ and take things on debit, or credit.

I need to tell you the names for our food combinations, or “combi’s” as they are referred to. We had “Mo-fire” a thicker type of mandazi made with extra flour, “Ndao” a regular mandazi.

Definition: Mandazi – A triangular, or rectangular (in Laiser Hill) shaped donut of sorts.

And the combinations ranged from a mandazi and a sausage, or mandazi and a samosa (both of which are very popular to date), chapati-sausage, to the outrageous ‘budget combi’ which was mandazi-crisps or chapati crisps, or mofire-crisps.

Definition: Crisps – thin deep fat fried slices of potatoes with added spices, packaged with nuts, and chevda-like additives.

The crisps-combi’s were hilarious, but became so popular. Started by students trying to be frugal, it caught on and became a fad, much like how ankle socks and slippers became a huge fad in school. Oh, to be young again…

These are smudges in my memory of high school. What are some of yours?

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  1. well, our tuck shop was manned by a grumpy old cucu who was very rude and partially deaf…and we had to line up to get in, and no food sales except on saturday between 1 and 3 pm…might be worthy of a post but…well, the nuns would kill me 😉

  2. Lets just say our canteen “Tuck shop” was a hit and run kinda place. Get in and get out. The more you hover around the more likely you are to get a Senior student. This was a being chilling looks that could give a child a cardiac and a bad shave from a blunt knife. And i bet you all know what that means…parting with your terms pocket money was not easy.
    Good one!

  3. if i unleashed mine stories, for the moment covered under mountains of rat poo and cobwebs oh and spiders, heh. you were well ahead i see. :o) i can even smell the ndengu samos till now yaani. to buy soda at 5 bob. sigh. *that did make sense in my head i swurs!*

  4. Man, I wish we could like start a Tumblr of people’s high school experiences. Would be pretty cool. There’s always some really wacky things that happened in High School. Great to remember these kind of things and the shady things that happened. It’s hilarious.

    Guys have left some great comments on my Facebook about the note. But the funny thing is how some schools like my bros didn’t even allow money in the school, imagine. No tuck-shop. No money. If you’re found with a wallet you’re in trouble. Terrible.

  5. Your tuckshop moments are exactly like ours, and we are girls, can you imagine? You had to scramble your way to Mama Karo, who could give you incorrect change(less of course, and there is no way you will want to brave your way back to ask for the 5 bob…

    If you finished in 2005, what are you up to now? I am liking your blog.

  6. Our tuckshop was a bomb, I can recall very well it was manned by a toothless guka who we heard to b of principal’s family, alike menu was only found on visiting day to cater 4 those missed their visitors. I lyk ya blog

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