Four years ago, on a bright August morning I embarked on a journey in the search of my undergraduate degree. To me it was a leap of faith, a leap into the shadowy uncertainty of an unfamiliar culture.
Laying all my hopes on the fairness of the diversity of our cultures, with all my hopes cast on the notion of a more integrated nation, I left my comfort zone and embarked on a journey to a land I previously had no knowledge of. Moving through numerous counties that had bore the blunt of the post – election violence Kenya 2007, I silently prayed that my destination would be warm and welcoming to a stranger who had fought for the opposing side and who knew no difference between the Luo and the Luhya dialects.
My whole self was uncertain of what I was to find at the end of the tunnel but the knowledge that there was a possibility of a light appearing from nothingnesss kept me on. The desire to be part of something adventurous encouraged me to further dip my foot in the unfamiliar waters.
Hailing form a backdrop of political activity, I had to seat on my controversial political opinions and hide them from the natives lest I returned from this uncertain journey in a box charred to the bone with recognition being an alien term. I was from a community that differed in every aspect of the word with the native Luhya, so from my viewpoint, chances of being lynched by a mob of those countrymen weren’t that far-fetched.
Kakamega was a town west of civilization and to me, the moment the driver fired on the bus, I said goodbye to the rest of Kenyans, since this was a one of a kind type of journey. I had never travelled west of Nakuru so passing the well -manicured, Wi-Fi town was reality checking in to confirm that my fate had already been sealed.
During the entire duration of the journey, there was this 40 something old lady sitting next to me who had realized (I don’t know how) that I was new in the ‘Ingo’ journey so she took every chance she had to explain to me where we were and the significance of the lands we passed as the Easy Coach bus sped along the Nakuru – Eldoret Highway.
The weather in Kakamega can only be compared to a 20 something kind of woman in that time of the month – one time its dehydratingly hot and the next the clouds open and the times of Noah are replayed in a span of one hour. This meant that my suitcase was soaked even before I had a chance to wash the Nairobi dust off its linen.
You see, when I arrived in MMUST,I expected the massive, beautiful gate of KU, the perfectly packed pavements of JKUAT, the beautiful ladies of CUEA, the rich history of UoN, the class of Strath and the ratchetness of MKU all in one package.
What welcomed me however was an entrance in the place of a gate, an annoyingly muddy road in the place of pavements, a shallow preamble in the place of history, and a rural undeveloped setting in the place of class. The atmosphere reaked of a village odour. My heart sank several inches lower as all my expectations flew with the birds. But what was I to do when uncle JAB had already sealed my fate? I felt cheated, I felt like a leprosy plagued individual unwanted by the society, cast in the wilderness to rot and die or be consumed by the desperation and loneliness that accompanied the experience.
The enrollment process was depicted by long lines that had several corners (so much for technology). In addition to the scorching sun, standing in the line naive and innocent for several hours made the experience more painful than it already was. The ground we stood on was flooded, the registration officials arrogant and rude and that was definitely the icing on the cake for my patience. I didn’t belong here.
The situation was a myriad of confusion, desperation and enthusiasm to those that hadn’t yet smelt the bacon. To them, this was the onset of a larger than life experience – the university ride.
To me it was the starting point of a life in an unfamiliar land, with unfamiliar people for an unfamiliar course.