Abuse of Power
A True Story
on Jan 3, 2020
As I have narrated before in this blog, I used to sneak out of school early on Sunday mornings in 2006 when I was in Starehe Institute. I did that so as to be on time for the 8.00am church service of my hometown Catholic parish where I enjoyed the company of the youths in the church.
One Sunday in 2006 when I was away from Starehe, the students had trouble singing the school song which I regularly accompanied on the piano. That made my absence from Starehe to be felt, and when I went back to the school, some captains threatened me that they would report me to Mr. Joseph Gikubu, the then acting director of the school, for sneaking out of school on Sundays.
I can't remember ever feeling afraid of the threats from the captains. All I recall is that the issue died down after a few days and I continued sneaking out of the school on Sunday mornings. I was such a daring student.
Apart from sneaking out on Sundays, another offence I used to commit when I was in Starehe Institute was failing to report back to the school on the official opening day of each term. I would prolong my holidays by four or five days. Like in January 2007 when I didn't report back to Starehe on opening day, a classmate of mine in the institute named Jamlick Kogi kept asking me via internet when I was going to join him at school.
While relaxing at home that same January 2007 after failing to report back to school as expected, I heard on TV during lunch time news that Starehe had a new director. His name was Prof. Jesse Mugambi. And he sounded eloquent as he addressed journalists about his new role as the director of the school where I was pursuing my education.
After I finally reported back to Starehe Institute that very same January of 2007, I decided to stop sneaking out of school on Sundays without permission. So I approached one of the priests of my hometown Catholic parish where I attended church and explained to him my predicament.
And wow! The priest turned out to be very understanding. He wrote a letter, requesting the director of Starehe to grant me permission to join youths in his church on Sundays. He began the letter by saying, "Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ..." And as he wrote the letter, he informed me that he had read some books by Prof. Jesse Mugambi, the director of Starehe to whom he was addressing the letter.
The following day, I presented the letter to Prof. Jesse Mugambi who consulted his deputy before granting me permission to be leaving Starehe on Sundays. He printed a note that said he approved my absence from Starehe on Sundays. I showed the note, which had the stamp of Prof. Jesse Mugambi, to my house captain.
You know what? A few weeks after he granted me permission to be leaving Starehe on Sundays, Prof. Mugambi began to act tough on Starehe Institute students. He contemplated expelling from the institute some students who had failed their accounting exams. And when he found some institute students sleeping during class hours, he told us that "if you have nothing to do, don't do it here."
Then when the KCSE results were released around March 2007 of which Starehe emerged top, some students of Starehe Institute who had excelled in the exams dashed to their homes without permission to celebrate their exemplary performance - something I had also done the year before when I scored an 'A' in those mighty exams. After those four gruelling years of study in high school, it felt natural to want to dash home to rejoice on success in the exams, much in the same way footballers pause matches to celebrate whenever they score.
On learning that some institute students had gone home to celebrate their KCSE results, Prof. Mugambi was not impressed about it. He issued the students with threats when they came back, summoned their parents to the school for interrogation and expelled quite a number of them from the institute - including my friend Richard Kagia who was active in the Christian Union movement.
That time Kagia and his fellow students were being put to task for going home to celebrate their KCSE results, I felt very safe and secure to have a note that granted me permission to be leaving the school on Sundays. Given how Prof. Mugambi was acting tough on Starehe Institute students, I wonder what would have happened to me if I had continued sneaking out of school on Sundays without permission and a captain breathed a word about it to the new director. It had been very wise of me to acquire that note.
Coming to think about it, I am of the opinion that Prof. Mugambi just created a storm in a teacup by the action he took on the institute students who dashed home to celebrate their KCSE results. As in, he overreacted. Had I been the director of Starehe at that time, I would have organized a bash for the students at the school canteen.
"Guys!" I would tell the students during the bash, "You have done us proud. Thank you so much for having preserved the good name of Starehe with your spectacular performance in the KCSE exams."
And then towards the end of my congratulatory speech, I would conclude, "But guys, now KCSE stuff is over. I want you guys to concentrate on your courses in the institute with the same zeal you did for KCSE. Okay?"
By so saying, I would have boosted the morale of the students, unlike Prof. Mugambi who demoralized them by issuing them with threats, summoning their parents to school and expelling those who didn't comply with his instructions.
Prof. Mugambi just created a storm in a teacup for shizzle. Or to put it in other words, he killed a mosquito with a gun because he ended up causing more harm by messing up with the lives of the students who were relying on Starehe Institute for their education. He also denied Starehe the talents of such dedicated students as Richard Kagia who was skilled at soloing traditional Agikuyu folk songs.
To put it bluntly, Prof. Mugambi's action on the institute students amounted to an abuse of power - the kind that has impoverished some African nations after they gained independence from their colonial masters. With all the negative media coverage on Starehe in recent years due to the school's decline in KCSE performance, I am sure the current administration of the school would give anything to reclaim the glory that the likes of Richard Kagia were expelled for.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on abuse of power, you might also enjoy another one I wrote sometime back on "How My Captain Helped Me". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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Books I Read in 2019
A True Story
on Dec 29, 2019
Since I divorced myself from frivolous entertainment some time in 2018, all I have been doing in my leisure time is reading. I have read during the sunny days as well as during the rainy ones; at night as well as in the mornings; when happy and when bored. And thanks to that reading habit, I am gratefully glad to report that I have been growing in knowledge. I am now striving to convert that knowledge to power so that I may experience the courage, confidence, creativity and inner peace that I have always longed to possess.
For today, let me tell you about the following books that I read this year and what I gleaned from them:
- Gifted Hands by Ben Carson - I read this memoir at the beginning of the year and enjoyed it so much that I would give it a five star rating. As I read in the book of how Ben Carson did surgical operations on people with brain complications, I couldn't help but feel grateful for the good health that I am now blessed with.
- Daily Reflections For Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey - I didn't study this book on each day of the year as its author intended us to do. Instead I read the whole of it in several sittings. And I learnt from the book that the more authentic we express ourselves, the more others are able to identify with our experiences.
- The AB Guide to Music Theory: Part II by Eric Taylor - Because I have a dream of producing best-selling songs, I read this book with the aim of gaining a deeper understanding of how music is written. I read the book from the first chapter to the last but to be honest, I didn't understand much of what it said. Because I have a feeling I will comprehend the book as my understanding of music theory matures, I have kept it in my home library for future reference.
- Confidence: How to Succeed at Being Yourself by Alan Loy McGinns - This book had a message that hit home in my mind. I learnt from it to think well of myself by replacing self-criticism with regular, positive self-talk. The book encouraged me to be a little eccentric and it reminded me that I am a unique, one of a kind person.
- The Secret of Happiness by Billy Graham - This book has a title that attracted me to it because I desire to be happy. When I finally read it, I was inspired to find comfort from the teachings of Jesus, especially his Sermon on the Mount.
- Peace With God by Billy Graham - This book also has a title that made me want to read it because having an inner peace is something I have come to value and appreciate. While going through the book, I found myself underlining sentences in it. The book deepened my faith in God and in the Bible.
- The Spirit of Leadership by Myles Munroe - This book inspired me to develop a healthy self-image as the basis of awakening the spirit of leadership in me. It encouraged me to continue leading a life of integrity and to continue growing my personal library with great books.
- My American Journey by Colin Powell - I first read this memoir ten years ago. When I re-read it this year, I found it well-written and insightful. I learnt from it to always take my work seriously, but not myself.
- The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale - I first read this book in the year 2010. And then out of necessity to be a positive thinker, I re-read it this year. While re-reading this book, I felt envious of the author's fund of knowledge; he seemed to possess an awareness of the challenges we humans face as we journey in this crazy journey called life. Reading the book helped me understand how we can apply Biblical teachings to our day-to-day challenges.
- Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell - This book gave me insight on how success is attained. One of the lessons I learnt from it is that practice is the key to success. So I have resolved to keep on writing and playing the piano because I desire to be a gifted writer and a best-selling musician.
- A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson - Science subjects are not everyone's cup of tea. But this book, which is packed with fascinating stories, makes Science seem interesting. Reading it helped me understand nature better. I'd recommend the book to all high school students who find Science subjects difficult to grasp.
- Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela - This memoir was a delightful read. It is written in a series of short chapters that make it very readable. While reading the book, I loved Mandela's voice and style of writing. Mandela had the kind of writing style that I have always desired to possess.
- Prentice Hall Literature - This is a voluminous book that helps its readers appreciate literature. It is full of poems and short stories, each of which is followed by a commentary. I enjoyed some of the stories which I plan to read again in the future, God-willing.
- The Holy Bible (New International Version) - So as to deepen my faith in God, I re-read most books in the Old Testament of the Bible. And, believe it or not, I found myself enjoying the stories in the Bible. As I went through the Bible, I noted how frequently the words "do not fear" appear in it; from those words, I infer that God intends us to be of good courage.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on the books I read in 2019, you might also enjoy another one I wrote last year on "Books I'd Love to Read Again". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.