In North America, summer is known to be a season of vacations, no
schools, with long days and short nights. Schools are closed for three
months; something that is very strange to some of us. I say strange
because the likes of me and most of my East African readers, have gone
through a school system whereby the schools are usually closed three
times a year. Each time the school is closed, it is closed for a month.
There is another vacation that comes in spring. In the USA they call it
Spring break, in Canada it is referred to as March break. Back home in
the Kaya, at least in the days when I was a student, we referred to it
as mwisho wa tamu ya kwanza, or for those who want to prove to their
parents that the money they spent on them was worth it, would refer to
it as mwisho wa fast tamu. During this period, there are those who will
receive a beating at home kwa ajili ya kushika mkiya; and there are
those who will be praised at home. This is the time that the father is
more than willing and proud to announce in his house that, “This is my
son!” During the spring break, Canadian and American parents usually
take some time off from work so as to spend the ten days with their
children. They refer this as quality time to be spent with their family.
 Akina yakhe like us we have no guts to take some time off. When the
child asks, “Baa ttakwenda wa wakati wa spring break?”  The father looks
 at the child with a very somber face, as if the child told him that he
has lost his job. “Hebu tuliya hapo. Usituletee uzungu wako hapa.Baridi
yote hiyo wataka kwenda wapi tena. Siku ya jumamosi na jumapili
ttakwenda kumtembelea kina anwar na babake Salimu. Si yatosha hiyo?” 
Then there are those who will give a whole narration of time gone by, “Wakati
 wetu sisi skuli zikifungwa hatusubutu hata kumkaribiya mzee kumwambiya
ttafanya nini. Skuli yafungwa leo, kesho twaamshwa asubuhi na makanzu
yetu twabumburushwa chuoni, kisha nyinyi hamna hata haya mwauliza pa
kwenda, skuli zikifungwa. Haya twendeleeni sasa.
During my primary school days, that is 7BM-1 BM (yaani Before Moi),
closing day is an event and a half. The preparation begins on the eve of
 closing day. After Maghrib, most of the parents will either go with
their children to the Bakery, or just buy the cake and bring it home for
 the child. Usually Swiss Roll is rated really high, then Keki ya siyagi,
 and then Queen cake. Akina Anglo Swiss, Hussein Bakery, Saiffees, Supa
Loaf and others not very famous bakeries, make a good profit on this day.
 The cake is brought home in festivity and guarded with all the
available arsenals in the house. “ Akina Clinton the Cat, Hillary the
Hen, or Wekeleya the Dog” will not even be allowed to use their God
given senses to smell the cake. Some children will even insist, and try
to convince their parents that it would be wise to hide the cake in the
same place in the cupboard, where nguo za skukuu zawekwa. The child does
 not request for the cake to be hidden in the cupboard out of fear of
the pets mentioned above, but because of the other pests that carry the
same last name as oneself. These are times when trust runs very low
among siblings, hence the cupboard. The child knows that this is the
area referred by the parents, as the “NO FLY ZONE” and the children know
 so as not to mess around. If one is caught, prowling such an area, they
 know the type of barrage that will flow in their direction. “ Aaanlipi
lilokupeleka huko fudhuli mkubwa wewe. Wamtafuta mamako gani huko?” It
seems like all the kids in Mombasa went to the same instructor. Whenever
 they are caught red handed, they start mumbling and pointing fingers in
 different direction. “Haya toka huko mdaku mkubwa wewe.”  The child
leaves very much contented knowing that he will not be the only one to
guard the merchandise. I have to give it to our parents though. Most of
our parents could not afford the cakes, or they would rather do without
but out of their love, they go ahead and buy it to please us. This child
 sleeps very lightly on this day. In the morning, of the day school is
closing, a very rare thing happens. Usually, the rooster makes the first
 wake up call, then the muadhin; but this day the child wakes before
everyone. This child will remain silent, and may be seated on ones bed
or sleeping mat for that matter. Immediately the child hears some sound,
 he also makes his presence felt. The difference between this day and
skukuu is that, on the skukuu day, the whole house is awake and blissful,
 but on the mwisho wa fast tamu the only one who is jovial is the child,
 because this is his day. One other thing that is different, on this day
 is that the child is allowed to go to school dressed as one desires. If
 the child wants to go in uniform, then he can do so, if he prefers to
go in his home clothes, then that is his shauri. Majority of the
children come to school in their best attires. Breakfast may be skipped
that day. The child with the strategic mind will scan very fast what is
for breakfast, and what he is taking to school.
Breakfast: Mahamri, mitai, kaimati, bofulo, chai, mbaazi na tui zito juu
 yake, viazi vya karai, uji, vibibi, kimanda, chapati….
 Things to take school: Soda, keki.
Things that need not be eaten today during breakfast: Mahamri, bofulo,
mitai, kaimati. Reason: kila siku twala hizi.
Things that I have no choice: Chai (did those British mess us or what),
mbaazi la tui zito ( mmmm… najuwa lina udhia lakini aaaa litamu jamani
kisha si kila siku twala mbaazi la tui) Reason: Well I am taking sweet
stuff to school, so I don’t need more sweet, that is why I am going to
eat the salty stuff.
Now the child is heading to Shebe Abedi’s shop with his father or mother
 to buy the soft drink that is to go with the cake.
Father: Wataka soda gani?
Child: Mmmmm..
Father: Sina siku yote hapa yallah amuwa wataka soda gani. Utatwaa Fanta?
Child: Aaa ah kwani mimi mwanamke. Fanta ya wanawake.
Father: Vimto?
Child: Ndogo.
Father: Sasa utasema wataka soda gani ama..?
Child: Cocacola … aaa ah ntachukuwa Pepsicola.
Father: Cocacola, Pepsicola, tofauti nnini, yote nmoja.
Child: Iiii… hujui baba, Pele yuwanywa Pepsicola hamywi Cocacola.
 So Pepsicola it became.
Father: Shebe Abedi, pepsicola moja.
Shebe Abedi:  Marhaba, shillingi imbili na nus
Father: Shebe Abedi, soda zinmpanda lini tena? Soda si shillingi moja
Shebe Abedi: Lahaula wala guwwata illa billah. Killa wagti skuli nafunga
 khabari hii nakuya. Naam soda shillingi moya unus, lakini lazima
naengeza shillingi ya diborzit. Walla iko na shuba ingine nammba mimi?
Father: Aah Shebe Abedi huniamini?
Shebe Abedi: Mimi naamini kulla mtu ndani ya mtaa hii, lakini sheytaan
kambuni ya soda habana amini mtu. Kulla siku nakuya, nataka shuba kamili,walla
 mimi naliba diborzit. Naona sasa kwa nini lazma naliba diborzit?Khalafu
 waswas ya nini, wakti naregesha shuba,tamba wewe shilingi yako. Sasa
wewe habana amini mimi kuwa taregesha shillingi yako? Shebe Abedi
decided to turn the table.
Father: Aaa khalas nipe hiyo soda tumalizane na hii zani. The father
pays for the soda as requested by Shebe Abedi, and he leaves rumbling
and mumbling. “ Kwa ninihizi skuli haziwi kama madrasa, zikafunga tu
bila makubwa?”

Now the child is heading to school as an emperor. Apart from the fact
that school closes on this day, there are other things to celebrate
about. There is no hustling from the prefect, no worry about tacking
your shirt in, no worry to see whether you are wearing sandals, or the
right this or that. Today is the day the child cries “freedom at last,
freedom at last, thanks God freedom at last!!!” the first thing the
child scans around to see who is the ‘sissy’ that came with Fanta. For
some reason that I still don’t understand to this day is that the only
Fanta that is classified as soda ya wanawake is the orange flavored,
while any other flavored Fanta is accepted in the fraternity.
In the class, all pupils are jovial, cheerful, buoyant, full of beans,
good-humored, fun loving, happy. Their class teacher will come in the
class, and everyone will be quiet. The teacher will give a small speech,
 then give out the reports. The last statement that comes from the
teacher is, “ Make sure one of your parent or guardian sign the report
and return it back first thing when school opens. Have a good time and
enjoy your vacation.” At this time (around ten o’clock), the bell will
ring, and everyone will run out of their class and THE PARTY BEGINS!! 
Officially the school is now closed. Mwisho wa fast tamu.