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After successfully pulling a "gangster" surprise on the ghetto people and taking his bicycle, the parent who was given the bunch of keys by the headmaster had no option other than leave the keys with the secretary who also acted as the official "maziwa ya nyayo" distributor to the school. We also called her "tata wa ìria". The woman had the memory of an elephant and would never forget the faces of rascals like us who would hide their milk behind the class and then come back to say that they had not gotten. She would fish you out of the line and frogmarched you holding you by the ear in a manner to suggest that she was not afraid of detaching it from your head full of porridge instead of brains.

Enock was the inventor of that habit. He lived in Bulleys Tanneries and had his brother and sister who was also in the same school. It was easy to identify him as he always had the "mpararo" face and big eyes that were always red. One day Allan saw Enock hiding his packet of "maziwa ya nyayo" behind the class in order to go and get an extra packet. He took the packet, made a very precise hole, drank it and filled the packet with water. What transpired later is a story for another day which included Enock crying and saying he will know who took his milk and make him diarrhoea. But that was the last time he ever hid his milk behind the class.

So after Mr. Kabuka saw the kind of commotion the "maziwa ya nyayo" had caused, he directed that the number of pupils in each class be taken and the exact packets of milk taken to each class by the class prefects and their class teachers. You might be wondering why the milk was that important? For starters it meant that we would have "chai ya maziwa" (tea with milk) at home.  But of importance was the fact that at U-shop centre there were two very important shops.

One was for Abdalla "Mwarabu" he sold "kashatas", ukwaju (mukwaju) or tarmarine, "shungutu", mabuyu, biscuits and mahamri among other things that we loved to eat and the milk always went well with the "kashatas". The other shop belonged to "Ngishu" and we called it "Kwa Ngishu" he had the best Chips this side of the compass and for two or five shillings you had all the chips you needed and you would wash them down with the packet of 'maziwa ya nyayo'.

Mr. Kabuka in an address to the school during one of the school parade announced that the school parade would only be on Mondays and Fridays. And that he would be visiting the classes of especially class six, seven and eight to ascertain whether the students in those classes are qualified to be in those classes. And whether the teachers were teaching.

He also declared that the corridor that had classes six, seven and eight will be called the "red sea" and crossing the "red sea" to the next class meant that you have qualified for that class in terms of discipline and marks. He also banned talking to teachers and himself with your hands in your pockets or hanging on your sides. You must have them at the back and your shirt properly buttoned and tacked. As usual Enock had a problem with tacked shirt it didn't help either when in the heat of panic he would look at the headmaster with his big red eyes.

To show his seriousness, the headmaster would enter your class and surprise you with a question even if you had a teacher in class.

"What is seven times eight? Woe unto you if you didn't know the answer because that meant you would swim through the "red sea" backwards to the previous class. His methods however made us improve on mathematics and overall performance. Thika Muslim Primary School moved from second or third last position into the top five in zonal and district ranking. We were singing the mathematical tables like the song of "naskia sauti,.. Naskia sauti.... Sauti ya mamaa" (you get the rhythm)

Some students in class eight found themselves in class seven and those in class seven found themselves in class six and so on. Those that couldn't stand the heat transferred to other schools other than Thika primary. Thika primary had a no nonsense headmaster by the name of Mr. Gakumo (I think he was Mr. Kabukas twin brother).

"This barbaric behaviour is going to end in this school" Mr. Kabuka announced one day at the parade.
"Thika Muslim is going to be an academy and must produce boys and girls who can be accepted in the best high schools in Kenya and help make the society a better place. If you think you are not up to the task whether you are a teacher or student, you can come to my office and I will gladly give you a transfer".

I was in class seven when he directed that the marks to enable us cross the "red sea" into class eight was 425 out of 700. Yours truly scored 424 in the third term of class seven exam. Your guess is right. I saw class eight "kwa 'viusasa". I went to his office to try and negotiate a re-mark of my papers we look for that "one mark". He answered that unless I was the one setting the school rules, I had no business in his office and I should be in class seven and not class eight.

My mother did not help either when I suggested that she can transfer me. The "eye" she gave me spoke more than the words she could have uttered. My friends that's how I repeated class seven. But it was the beginning of our very good friendship with Mr Kabuka and I can trace my serious leadership lessons from him.

Juma Hemedi

PART 3 LOADING..... (preparing for KCPE)

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