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Nobody knew where he was going but we were told that he was going to pass through Thika and that everyone should assemble at the flyover (why some places are given some names is still a wonder. Nothing flies over people just walk or drive) 

Anyway if you didn't grow during the Moi era, before multiparty politics in Kenya then you will be forgiven for not understanding what the hullabaloo of the president passing through a town as small as Thika was all about. That week the Chief had come to our School to give the information to the Headmaster and to also request that we prepare a song for the president just incase he gets out of his car, he might be pleased with our song and that would be good for the school, at least he would know about us. 

Now the Chief did not just visit our school alone as he also passed the same message to Thika Primary, St. Patricks and Jamhuri. These schools were our perenial competitors of who will occupy position last in the zonal exams. Thika primary would come fouth last, Muslim Primary third last, then St. Patricks primary would contest with Jamhuri over who would be the last one (at least thats what we were meant to understand by the generations of students who schooled before us)

Then there was the other schools that spoke in English and were always contesting for the top three, St. Davids, Moi primary and memorial primary. Now you have to know that our Zone was called Kenyatta Zone and the other "english" speakers were madaraka Zone. We contested in our various Zones and then we would meet at the district level, that was in music and also sports. 

In our Zone, we all spoke kikuyu I guess since even the alphabets were taught in Kikuyu. And out teacher would make it a song " Aeeee nene, Aeee nini, Biii nene Biii nini" and thats how we understood. So when we reported to our parents that there is something called "monito" (we didnt really know its real name anyway) that one is given when you spoke kikuyu or sheng or any other mother tongue, at school. And that once this "monto" thing is given to you then it means you will be punished for receiving something you didn't even ask for, as expected our ghetto parents didnt understand and had to come to school to find out why. 

They were informed that this was important to make us know English and Kiswahili. There were protest from the parents but the decission had already been made and there was no "public participation". So talking to anyone would mean you either use English or Kiswahili. That was like denying us freedom of expression. So we would find ourselves saying "choose me teacher, i go toiret". 

Anyway we went right into practicing a song that "Mtukufu Rais would be pleased with when he makes a stopover at the fly over heading to a destination that we didn't know about. Now shops had to be closed too and everyone to go receive the President and bid him goodbye as he went. Then we would go about our business. The problem was we didn't know exactly what time he would come at the flyover as he would be having other stopovers before Thika. 

Mrs Kibathi made sure our song was tuned well and she had advised us to take lemon so that we don't face voice challenges. We had been rehearsing hard. So on the day the President was coming we arrived early at school, so that we would walk together to flyover (today it is called Njomoko). We arrived and were quickly arranged by our heights and told to rehears once more to check our voices. Mrs Kibathi was satisfied. The chief was also there and so were many police officers and a band every policeman looked busy even when there was nothing to do. 

Periodically one would come and tell us "musikanyage lami, musimame hapo" (dont step on the tarmac stand right where you are) then another one would come and repeat the same statement. Anyway we had been standing there for more than five hours and the President hadn't arrived. Then we saw a car coming very fast and stopped where a man with a uniform was we were told he was the DC, somethings were whispered to him and then we were told the president was near. 

Mrs Kibathi told us to start singing and the other schools too started singing and it was a collection of different voices, tones, words and tempo. We were still singing one hour later and still He had not arrived. We were told to rest a bit. And thats when Chos and Runo brought their idea. That there was a "kadim dim" not far from where we were in the middle of the coffee plantation that was "ngoingwa" then and there were some "gadania" (macadamia) trees that were there we could go eat, have a swim at the "kadim dim" then be back before the President comes. 

We left Ndun'gu to alert us using our secret signal when the president was near. It was nearing 6pm while eating "gadanias" and swimming when we realised that no one had seen Ndung'u or heard the secret signal. We went back to the flyover and there was no one. 

Our names were called the following morning at the parade we thought that the President had left something for everyone who was there and since he didn't find us he was kind enough to leave our share with the Headmaster. We were given a thorough beating in form of several bamboo sticks canes on our behinds and hands. Apparently our school had no song to present when the time came and it was because half of the singing group couldn't be found. 

We were told that the other students ate Broadway bread and fanta. 

Where did our broadway bread and fanta go? Who ate our Share? Did the president know that we never ate our share of Broadway bread and fanta?  #ifikie Mtukufu Rais. 

Juma Hemedi

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