Victor Ochieng’: I Looked Forward To Score 400 Marks, I Only Managed 339 Missing Chance To Join Starehe Boys

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Victor Ochieng': I Looked Forward To Score 400 Marks, I Only Managed 339 Missing Chance To Join Starehe Boys
Photocredit/Courtesy

What happens when you miss your KCPE target? 

The release of KCPE results gives me a sad mental flight to the recent past. I felt bad when it seemed like I was walking away from my dreams. I looked forward to score 400 marks out of the maximum 500. But, it is as if twisted fate conspired with bad luck. I scored only 339 marks. The boy wept. 

Those who have read my book titled From Obstacles to Miracles know that death dealt me a big blow before I was even a stripling. I lost mom when I was 7. A mere STD 1 pupil: still an egg, not yet a cock. Hopeless. Helpless. Hapless. The boy wept. 

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Before death dimmed mom’s bright star, she had not introduced me to dad. It was bad. The days she was still alive and kicking, when I asked her about the man of means who sired me, the gem from Gem, only quoted Psalms 68:5: “God is the father to the fatherless, and the judge to the widows.” The boy wept. 

It was pensive to grow up without a biological father. Yet, out here, they say: Dad is destiny. No wonder, the boy wept. 

Mom bore me outside wedlock. Then took me to the maternal grandparents. I went to primary school barefooted. I was jigger-infested. I was also a chronic bed-wetter, a shameful act that went all the way up to high school. I was drenched in this self-made night rain up to the time I was in Form Two. So, the boy wept. 

In the chest of the village, we grappled to make ends meet. As we tried to reconcile the estranged ends, some malevolent forces pushed them far apart. Affording the three basic square meals was like asking for a blood donation from mosquito. Going to school pinched by pangs of hunger, sowed in me seeds of sorrow. These sob stories hurt my heart. Again, the boy wept.  

Nevertheless, I remember a certain day. It happened when I was a tiny STD 7 boy. I looked like an atom. No, like a full stop. A group called Diguna zoomed into our school. They were preaching and teaching.

The sermon was: Becoming a New Creation. It was based on 2 Corinthians 5:17: “If anyone is in Christ, s/he is a new creation, the old is gone, and lo and behold, the new has come.” When God blotted out the scales of sin from my eyes, and made me see my sin-sick soul: the boy wept.  

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This does not mean that I did not have the idea of God in the figment of my imagination. I knew God. After all, my grizzled granny, Nyar Got Regea, the daughter of Benado Godia, was a Roman Catholic. Therefore, she introduced me to God the way Lois did to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5).

But grandpa, my only father figure, was an Anglican who went to church only twice in a year: During Yuletide, and first day of January. As far as piety is concerned, the old man did not give the grandson an excellent example. The boy wept. 

So, when I was a STD 8 boy, in a frail frame. Our Head teacher threw his well-fed frame into our old classroom that looked like the Gedi Ruins at the Coast. Our Head teacher was a man with a big belly that hang like a sack of sand. His neck was thick. He was a true African: Dark like a thousand midnights. One bad day, he heard us making fun of him. He punished us. The boy wept.  

There is a glad day Rateng’ came to see us in the Gedi Ruins. He ambled at an academic angle into the classroom with a blue file tucked under his sweaty armpits. Rateng’, the Luo word for a dark man, was a man full of ‘nyadhi’, great éclat and flamboyance.

He used to brag and boast. That he was the best Mathematics teacher in the South of Sahara Desert, and the North of River Limpopo. One evil day, when we failed to complete his assignment, he scared us that he was going to switch off the sun. In my ignorance, the boy wept. 

I know you are eager to know a lot about this tale. More so, the details of the blue file. Rateng’ said that the forms were from Starehe Boys’ Centre. A high school that sponsors boys from a humble background: academically gifted, but financially embarrassed. I was one of those boys. For our family was humble. The only thing we had was the good gift of life. We lived below poverty index. We were in the trenches. No wonder, the boy wept. 

I filled the forms with great glee. I had the hope and optimism of joining the dots in Starehe Boys’ Centre. However, the day the KCPE results were out, to my utter surprise, I only scored 339 out of 500 marks. T

he entry into Starehe was to be 400 marks. That is how I missed the chance to my dream national school started in 1959 by Dr. Geoffrey Griffin. The boy wept.  

Fortunately, two invitations came: One, St. Mary’s School Yala, and two, Kanyawanga High School in Migori. When I took this invitation missives to the father of my mother. The man now old like Ramogi Hills, looked at me, and then opened his mouth, in a tremulous voice, he said, “My grandson, this is the end of your education.

In fact, I have hatched a plausible plan. I have a brother who bought lush land in Muhoroni, Kisumu County. I want you to go, and become his herd’s boy.” In a swift speed, like a bullet fired from a gun, I responded, “Grandpa, I do not want to become a herd’s boy. I want to go to school well, and in case God permits, I become a professor.” I closed my mouth, and did nothing. The boy wept. 

When I reached the end of the tether. When it seemed like I was walking away from my academic dreams. God in His grace and goodness bailed me out. He made me smile wide like a mile. Yala Christian Outreach Church, in the Gem of Siaya, edged closer to me, and made me sing the hymn Close to Thee. They decided to take me to high school.

It is how I found myself in a decimal day school – Nyamninia Secondary School. Like the sacred son of the carpenter close to Lazarus’ tomb, the boy wept. 

When I arrived in the decimal day school, I forgot about the giant schools, and encouraged myself: Places do not make people, but people make places. For to touch your dreams, you do not need to be in a national school. You can blossom: anywhere, everywhere. Like Joseph son of Jacob, you can move from pit to palace.

Or prison to palace. Even Jesus was born in a manger, but refused to be a cow. He chose to be the King, King of kings. Therefore, I understood the wise words: a lizard in Africa cannot be a crocodile in America. America did not make America, but Americans made America. Looking at the thrills and hills ahead, the boy wept.

The writer is an author and a public speaker. [email protected] 0704420232

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