Fresh off high school bustling with eagerness to join campus, KCSE results were something I felt I waited centuries for.
Pre-Matiang’i days were slow like that. By the time results came, you’d probably have a couple of kids and the teachers who taught you would have retired.
It always felt like they took forever.
I was anticipating college life more than anything at the time. Sensational stories of how life in campus was carefree and a walk in the park were always circulated in our dormitories year in year out once KCSE fever kicked in. Campus sounded like this promised Island full of honey and beer — or milk depending on your style — and your result slip was the only ticket you needed.
It always felt like one of those stories which has slaves anticipating for their freedom, patiently waiting for the big moment to come to make a run. In 2007, the big day finally came and I got my ticket to freedom.
Immediately after getting my slip, I embarked on searching the best campus that would usher me to the promised island.
But just a few weeks into searching, I hit a dead end. I had missed most of the intake deadlines since it was already September. The final semester was already in play and I had to wait till 2008 to secure a spot. That, alone, felt like repeating high school. I couldn’t sit back and wait for another four months to see the island. Four?
So I dug deeper. Luckily, I found this one university that had extended its intake to October 10: African Nazarene University.
I had never heard of it. And a quick inquiry in my hood forced me to abruptly stop. The reviews weren’t what I wanted to hear. It never sounded like the Island I spent countless sleepless nights dreaming off.
But I really wanted to get away. My mum loved the school after finding out it had a strict student conduct. Most parents would have. I knew the school might be strict, but not like the “prison” I was in Runyenjes, Embu that had just handed me my KCSE slip. I took my chances and applied.
After all, strict in campus meant something like, “Hey, Mr. Samorai, didn’t you read the student conduct? No beers or weed in class, take them outside please,” I thought.
When I finally got there in October 2007, I realized the island wasn’t so bad.
But because of my awful mental state, I felt like my mum had thrown me at Alcatraz for breaking one of her fancy plates — those stashed away in cupboard for important guests. OK, it wasn’t truly the Island I had been dreaming of the past four years but it was still an island. Somehow.
After a few quick calls to my high school buddies who had joined other campuses a few weeks later, I quickly concluded I was the slave who never got past the high electric fence when the fateful day to run for freedom finally came.
They were having fun day and night, going for road trips on Mondays, and being ASKED to take their beers out of class. Meanwhile, I was swiping my ID card in chapels to confirm I was present and being instructed to sleep at 9:30 pm.
This made my obsession with the Island quadrupled and, that’s when my troubles started.
I was boarding in the school so that meant I had only one day, Saturday, to catch up on everything my friends did during the week. By Sunday, I had to be back in the campus ready for Monday. Only those who were in Naz might understand this cycle.
It was impossible to catch up. Not with that schedule.
I ended up attracting a lot of heat in the process. The school’s security guards quickly knew Samorai was a misfit, and just like my deputy principle at Moi High School, they followed me around, hoping i’ll trip then they’ll pounce. They called my parent and told her “your son’s new behaviors are alarming. You need to talk to him.”
Before I could get my chaos together, I was being sent for counseling and what nots in the campus. Lecturers knew me by my three names and even had my mobile number. Head of security gave out word that the new kid called Samorai should be avoided at all cost unless you wanted trouble. A few white teachers in the campus volunteered to help me “reform”. I gave them the normal African-American narrative of growing up in a tough neighborhood with no father and my mother had six jobs to get them off my back. Funny enough, they bought it.
But once the head of security heard of it, things got real. Super real.
Alcatraz was now real and I was the tough inmate who needed to be isolated.
Trouble was following me and the more I tried playing safe the worst it became. Like there was time I was accused of stealing a blanket — not even a duvet. A blanket — just because I was spotted in that hostel. Later on, that freshman found his blanket hanged outside. They said I had returned it.
It was high school all over again but this time on steroids.
My friend Alex was on a one year suspension then. He came back when my drama was at its peak. I asked him what I should do and he told me the best way was to bail out before it was too late.
“I have seen people who have been labeled in this school. It never get’s pretty,” he said. I trusted him. He was one of them anyway.
It was time to reclaim my freedom, I thought. So I called my parents and told them I needed to go to another school or else I will be sent to jail. “There’s too much drama surrounding me here,” I told them.
At first they thought it would eventually pass and i’ll fit in. But it didn’t. After a month or so, I dropped out of school and said F it. Rongai became my new home and the Island I craved for so bad. My parents couldn’t believe it. Their son was now officially a dropout and wasn’t interested in going back to any other university. It was their lowest moment in life I guess.
Luckily, a few months later a friend of mine talked some sense into my thick skull, brought me JKUAT Karen forms and asked me to fill. Alex made me do it.
It was a fresh start.
Freedom and beer was now in plenty but I had moved on. I was now obsessed with something else that I really wanted to be part of.
And so I started craving for another ISLAND.
Let’s meet next Friday!