A friend of mine, who happened to be teaching here in Canada, once
confessed to me that, it is very hard to teach children here in Canada,
than in Kenya. He then gave me the whole jazz about, hawa watoto wa hapa
 bwana hawana adabu hata kidogo. I never taught here in Canada, but I
did teach in Mombasa, Kenya. To be precise, the school I taught was
Mvita Primary. While it is true kids will remain kids, there is a
difference between children’s attitude back home, and children here in
Back home, children always have it, somewhere in their head, that if
they misbehave, the teacher can play the role of any dictator of your
pick, from around the world (past and/or present) and expand the size of
 your behind, your pants thickness notwithstanding. The beating may be
so thorough that if the teacher decides to give you an assignment, to
show him a city called Guraya in China, you will be more than willing to
 work on the assignment and come back the second day with an atlas with
Guraya highlighted on the map of China. This was how some of the
teachers were feared. In this part of the world, you, as a teacher, do
not dare touch the student, or even kodoa your eyes, in fear of getting
sued or expelled. Therefore, most of the times, the pupils rule the
schools. My dear reader is probably wondering, haya leo atatupeleka wapi
 tena? Its been long since I last wrote on the visa na mikasa series,
therefore I decided to make the theme “ Back to School.”
During our school days (the days when primary school was made up of
seven years, and the subjects you are examined are only English
Mathematics and General sciences), you can never run short of mikasa, if
 not visa too. First let me give you the break down of how schools were
run. There was the Headmaster/Headmistress, and their deputies. For each
 and every class one teacher is assigned to run the class. Basically
these are the Rais na makamu na mawaziri wake all in one. The minister
without a portfolio is often run by mwalimu wa dini. Then comes the
kacheros, mapolisi na mapolisi Kanzu. The prefects take the roll of the
kacheros and polisi, while the monitors take the role of polisi kanga-
the administrative police. Everyday there is an assembly. Students, who
are all in uniform, line up according to their respective classes. First
 thing in the agenda are prayers, and on Fridays we sang the national
anthem. I remember one day the whole school had to be spanked because we
 could not sing the national anthem. Everyone knew how it starts; it is
the middle part that we could not remember. We all started with vigor,

Eee Mungu nguvu yetu,
Ilete baraka kwetu,
Haki iwe ngao na mlinzi,
Natukae na udugu
Amani na uhuru
Raha tupate na ustawi,

Then the problem began. The number of voices started to dwindle. All you
 could hear was humming and nyamnyamnyam… and then the end…Raha tupate
na ustawiiiii. The Headmaster made us start all over again so many times
 until he came to the conclusion that he is facing a pathetic hopeless
bunch of students. The only thing they may understand is mboko. So, that
 day, we started the day with strokes on our buttocks. On any other
normal day, after the national anthem the headmaster (if he is available)
 made some few announcements or may had given permission to head to
class. If there was nothing to be said, the students were basically told
 to go to their respectful classes, in an orderly manner, starting with
the oldest to the youngest. Here is where the kacheros and polisi came
in. They stood in strategic places, and watched everyone that passed
them with an ardent eye. Their main interest was to pull out all
students who did not abide by the school rules. Among those who would be
 pulled out are, students whose shirts were not tucked in, those who
were wearing sandals, those who were missing a button on their shirts.
Among the prefects, there are those who wait away from where the
assembly is conducted, and wait for the latecomers. To become a prefect,
 you need to be conservative and very presentable. Akina yakhe like me
who wore Khaki shorts that were so big and reached to my knees, were not
 presentable enough to be a prefect. So, I never made it to become one.
All prefects had to wear a tag showing their ranks among the prefect
hood hierarchy. Akina yakhe like us always remembered this, just in case
 we got caught by a prefect who was not wearing the tag, we can use that
 to bail ourselves out. After the msako, all the culprits were taken to
the waziri mkuu wa vikoto na mboko. Most of the time this person
happened to be the headmaster/headmistress or his/her deputy. There was
no court of appeal. The hardliners knew the different types of beating,
and they would tell the first timers of what to expect. This is how the
conversation may go:
“ Alhamdullilahi anayechapa leo ni Mr. Kigutu. Lau ni Mr. Mapembe,
tungeitambuwa leo.”  The hardliner said.
“Kwa nini?” the first timer asked with concern.
“ We angaliya ile fimbo aliyoishika, hata kuku wetu hakimbii ukijaribu
kumtisha na fimbo ile. Lakini Mr. Mapembe heee..” the hardliner ends the
 conversation in suspense.
Now the first timer was more worried than before and started asking more
 questions, and wanted to know all the tricks to avoid pain. He asked, 
“ Vipi yaani, nnambiye bwana.”
The hardliner, who now feels important and that his service was in high
demand cleared his throat and started his lecture. You have to remember
that all this is happening while waiting for the teacher to come and
punish them.
“Katika fimbo, kuna fimbo mbili hutaki kuchapwa nazo, nazo ni Inzirani,
na Mpera. Maanake ukichapwa na hizi wewe, basi wiki nzima utakaa
kitahiyyatu, manake zafurisha matako fimbo mbili hizi. Sasa mwangaliye
Mr. Kigutu yuwaja na nini, si nkama fito za ufagiyo zile. Anichape hata
mia, sishtuki. Jambo lingine omba ile fimbo isivundike, manake
ikivundika basi hii minaffik (meaning the prefects) wakitumwa fimbo
wenda ofisini na kuleta hizohizo inzirani tusozitaka. Kwa hivyo, ukipata
 mwalimu kama huyu usiogope kwenda kwanza kwanza. Akikushika tu mkono,
bwaga kilio, tena kilio cha kweli kweli. Akiinua fimbo juu tu, jifanye
hujifai kabisa, lia manake kwa roho yako yote, mara nyingi atakuoneya
huruma atakuchapa moja au mbili halafu akwambiye uende zako. Sasa wewe
akikuata, usinyamaze, hata kama wasikiya kuteka. Nenda hivyohivyo, mpaka
 uwe mbali naye, ndiyo nyamaza.” The first timer was very grateful for
the quick lesson he received before his demise.
Some of the chronic latecomers were so smart that, they learnt few
tricks on how to avoid being caught by the prefects or the teachers.
Once the assembly was on process, they would hide behind trees or the
long grasses. Those who were able to sneak through, but can’t take the
risk of joining the assembly in fear that a teacher or a prefect may see
 him, rushes to the toilet and waits until all classes were in. He then
comes out pretending to button his shorts, as if he just came out from ‘fertilizing
 the land’, or ‘watering the lawn.’ You know what I mean. If he comes
across a prefect, by any chance, you may hear him saying aloud, “Leo
ndiyo mwisho kula mbahazi asubuhi. Tumbo lanisokota ndiya yote, mpaka
nnafika hapa. Karibu nishindwe kustahmili. Ningebwaga matofali katikati
ya ndiya leo. In case the first period is PE, then the latecomer won’t
even bother to go to the assembly or the class. He will just hide and
wait for his class to come out to the field, and he will join them. Some
 teachers are smart though. They make the roll call before the class
goes for PE; therefore, the latecomer gets caught anyway. Then come the
Monitors, a.k.a the right hand of the teacher.
Akina yakhe like us who advocate for the use of the Kiswahili language,
never called the monitors by that name. We made a direct and literal
translation of the word and called them by the Swahili equivalent-
Mburukenge. They hated that name. Some sympathizers suggested that we
use the appropriate name, Mfunzi, but we totally disagreed, because we
thought that their job description fits the name, mburukenge more than
mfunzi. So, what was the job description of the Monitor? You may ask.
The main job was to make sure that the class was in order when the
teacher was not around. They were to write the names of anyone who made
noise in class. Some of these monitors were so zealous with their
position that they may not be able to differentiate between making noise,
 talking or discussing. All of these characters end up being classified
as noisemakers. Then there were those who spoke a language other than
English ended up being blacklisted. If anybody goes out of the class
without asking permission from the monitor, his name will end up in the
book too. At the end of the day he turns the names to the class teacher
and then the whole class would be under the teacher’s mercy. S/he may
punish or give amnesty. If the class happened to be noisy, or out of
order, or out of control, and the monitor did not write anybody’s name,
then he will be in hot water. He will end up being punished. This is
very rare but I have seen it happen. I will stop here, but then, allow
me to narrate some visa na mikasa that I have witnessed in some of my
primary school that I attended in the next issue Inshaallah.