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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