11 A.M and I am still halfway with my washing, one thing I take centuries to do and ages while doing. Today, like most comrades I will not be giving my clothing to the laundry lady. I will do the washing by myself, just as I have always done given the plenty of free time that I have. The classes are not yet on right? And it’s that ‘special day’ of the year. The day for the lovers. That time when we allow ourselves to let loose our feelings and express them, the feelings, in all the ways we consider appropriate to the people we ‘love’ and feel their love for us. So in a way I choose to celebrate the ladies in the building…Mama, my sisters and all the ladies out there trying to make a dent out of this thing, life…the ladies who do laundry to the comrades. They, the laundry ladies are like the mothers and sisters who are never around with us but we still feel their presence. They hold that part considered vital by the comrades-the image. Because of them comrades walk tall, shoulder-high knowing that their image is in good hands. They are the custodians of the image of comrades and for that I pitch a cap in their honour, to celebrate the role they play in our lives.
I will do mine, my laundry today. Just like you also occasionally do yours. I mean we all have dirty laundry right? And occasionally we do the clean-up, however unpleasant the whole process might be.
The washing area is not far from the Freedom Corner and I can hear all that is happening there. There are numerous washing booths around but I’ll always pick the one closest to the Freedom Corner. Maybe because of the feeling of freedom I always have whenever I am done washing here; that feeling of victory that drapes my whole personality after every heap is brought down. I could see everything from the Freedom Corner if not for this partitioning of a wall. It has of late, the Freedom Corner been awash with activities-from student political rallies to just random gatherings where people get to share all that is life; to football titbits to academic stuff to talk on girls. Every date prior to their happening, including those for the Valentine’s were talked about here. You find it all at the Freedom Corner. I bet that is why it is called the Freedom Corner. The moment you get there you have a feeling of invisibility, so that you can say anything without anyone giving you the ‘what did you just say’ kind of look.
Outside, at the Freedom Corner I can hear someone calling from a distance. The voice is fading away but still I manage to catch a few words that I am familiar with. Then it gets closer, the voice and I can feel the gusto and strength in it. I can feel the vigour and authority in it despite all that is happening. Slowly but swiftly, comrades start gathering. Guys drop all that they were doing and start coming in from different directions in response to this particular call. When a comrade calls from the Freedom Corner you drop everything and respond. If it is food you are taking you drop it; if it is reading you are doing you pause it; if it is riding you hit the clutch. Damn, even the ladies know!!! Because that is how the spirit of comradeship is kept alive. That is how it has managed to stay strong against all odds. I can hear someone take the lead after everyone is signalled to keep mum.
The narrative is not different from what was said yesterday and the day before that. It is about the ongoing lecturers’ strike that has crippled all learning activities in all higher learning institutions across the country, now in its fifth week, depending on when you reported back to school. What the comrades seem to say is that there is a need for official communication on the way forward. Someone, anyone with a voice of reason should say something. Take the mic from whoever is sleeping and bring order in this loudly quiet moment. The silence is too loud for the comrades. You know the feeling when you finally decide to take matters in your hands, after too much waiting, head home, which is a thousand miles from school only to be called back by unverified information on the student portal, which later turns out to have been a hoax!!!
You will notice something like giving up in the voices of the comrades. That the spirit of comradeship is giving up!!! Maybe that is right. Maybe we have reached that point where giving up is our only option. If it is our fate, the system involved had decided on it a long time ago, even before we learnt to spell that word, fate. This is the 2012 KCSE crew. If it is to call this failure, then we have been failed big time by the system which we thought we could trust. The system was meant to produce, to nourish and to prepare individuals for different roles and responsibilities both for self-preservation and for communal development. However, the system is slowly aborting and killing its own before time. The system is starving its own mentally as if having a sole purpose of producing incompetent and academic dwarfs. Remember way back in 2008 just as the academic year was commencing, we were exposed to teachers’ strike that lasted more than a month. Then again in 2012, just about the same time, with a similar story. And then now!!
Let me share with you some of the stuff that I read in some WhatsApp groups that I am a member of;
“The Kenyan university students have decided to mute over the ongoing lecturers’ strike because it is an avenue to play truant. They are neither at school nor at home; at home, it is assumed they are at school, at school, the colleagues assume they are at home. To them, this strike is the best thing that has ever happened in campus life. In fact, the only news they want to hear is that the strike is still ongoing. It amuses how they inquire about the strike, they will approach you with the phrase ‘naskia strike imeisha’ or ‘hii strike unaionaje?’, while expecting a positive response. The positive response expected in this case is that the strike is still on.”
And again this;
“Did you know that there is a special group of people among us?
KCSE 2012 Class is the most special group of persons in this country.
In the year 2008 January when they were to start their final year of primary education there was a primary school teachers’ strike in this nation for about 2 months.
In 2012 January just as they were commencing their final lap in high school another teachers’ strike hit the nation and they were at home for 3 months. Nevertheless they made it to campus in large numbers unlike Matiang’i babies.
Now in 2017 (January) as most of them are in their final year in campus there is yet another strike. The lecturers’ strike which will end in I do not know when.
This cohort has been sacrificed for a good course so many times. I predict that in 20—the cohort will cause a revolution in this nation.”
Maybe it will have to take a revolution to make someone, whoever is responsible to act. Or maybe just a reminder that whoever is sleeping on the job needs to wake up, and soon!!!
For now I will finish my washing, hang my clothes on the line before the sun gets bored with my ranting, even as I wait for another summoning to the Freedom Corner.