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10 Things anybody who went to public high school in Kenya will remember

It’s Thursday and a perfect day for a TBT (Throw Back Thursday for those at the back). So, today we go down the high school memory lane.

Here are the 10 things anybody who went to a public high school in Kenya will relate to;

1. Monolization

Now this was in the form of bullying from the first day you was admitted to Form One – you got the name “mono”. Being a mono was bad or fun depending on which school you were in. Some of the annoying statements you had to endure include:

“Ingia ndani ya basin na utoshee kabisa.”

“Chukua hii bucket uende nje na ukuje nayo kama imejaa giza.”

Or being handed Sh1 by a senior student with orders to go purchase a loaf of bread and bring back the change.

2. Avocado

This prized fruit was the rarest commodity yet with the highest demand. Reason? Avocados had the magical powers of transforming poorly made food into one of the tastiest meals or anything that students ate. Avocado was also used to butter the bread.

3. Cold Power

Picture a mixture of cold water, cocoa and sugar. This was the ultimate drink if you didn’t either have junk juice or access to hot water. This was mostly taken as a bed time snack and always taken with either biscuits or bread.

4. Outings/Funkys

Getting an opportunity to at least step out of school just for a day was like going on vacation in the Caribbean islands. So naturally everyone wanted to join clubs that got the most trips invites all year round. Clubs like music, drama, wildlife, dance, debate, Science and even Mathematics was some of the most popular for such outings.

5. Cheering Squad

In every sport activity be it football, basketball, handball or even baseball most schools always brought some few extra students around whose sole duty was to cheer their teams during matches. The songs were full of creativity and meant to intimidate the opposing teams. Who can forget songs like “Msimchafue msimchafue, mkimchafua tutawachafua”?

6. Selling items (kiosk style)

Most parents always limited your pocket money with the main excuse being “Si unaenda kusoma” (Aren’t you going to study?). However, some enterprising students supplemented their out of pocket with ‘illegal’ trade for example selling mandazi, biscuits, writing pads and envelopes, among others contraband. Others would simply make use of their calligraphy skills to pen love letters on behalf of fellow students at a fee.

7. Nicknames

Nicknames not only ranged from ones among fellow students but also for teachers and even the school staff. The names were given depending one’s character and even something that they had done before. The teachers were never the ones to called by their nicknames – unless you had a death wish.

8. Palito Radio

Nowadays, most high schools have banned mobile phones while some allow students to have them. Back in the day, when mobile phones had not come into being, the in-thing was this palito radio. It was like breaking one of the ten commandments if found with any form of electronic device this case being “palito radio”. This small gadget was what kept most of us updated on the music and entertainment.

It simply consisted of two triple A batteries which were used up to the last drop of power by either biting on them or drying them up under the sun for charging. Some ingenious students would place them strategically at the back of a classroom and switch it on just before John Karani and Penninah Karibe’s Beat Time show kicked off on KBC English service.

9. Mkorogo or Mkaango

High school food was never tasty, be it from weevils or food cooked with kerosene for some unbeknown reasons. Thus came the solution of “mkaango” used as an additive to make food tastier. It was made using various ingredients such as cooking fat, onions, spices and Royco. Once ready it was left to harden in an air tight container and ready for use while in school for more than a month – the freshness we are now obsessed with did not matter then. Then there was the mixture of sugar, Blue Band and cocoa, which was simply called mixture. Today, few would stand its taste.

10. Love letters and pen pals

“It is with great pleasure that I ‘dirtify (should have been dirt)’ this Webuye paper hoping that you shall receive it with open arms and a smile…” High school letters went a little something like this and were collectively written with utmost creativity.

The student with the best handwriting would do tens of letters especially on the eve of outings or ‘funkys’. Those who received the most letters in a day were the school celebrities. The ending of most letters always had dedications, quotes, heart shaped drawings and messages from fellow friends.

These experiences and many more like mwakenya (cheating in exams), sneaking out, dancehall sessions, entertainment, sleeping in class and getting caught by the teacher, punishments and mixing chemicals wrongly in the lab was what made the four years of learning memorable!

Have more high school memories? Tell us in the comments section.