I was thinking of the good old days.
Back in 2002 I knew very little about football. I was in class 3. It was that great World Cup year we all (my friends and I) supported Brazil as they had players with funny ‘R’ names. Not the type of funny we laughed at but the type of funny we took up and nicknamed ourselves. Then, I was only 8 years old (approaching 9) and football was not just the game for me. So I didn’t get a nickname. My friends however got to be called Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, Roberto Carlos and so on but I just remained me: Dickson. Nobody got the nickname ‘Ronaldo’ however. I tend to think that Ronaldo was this player everyone revered so much that it’d have been preposterous for any of us to take up his name. That’s one part of it since I also tend to think that the name was not given to any of my friends as I was the only one with a Ronaldo jersey among them.
Those days I used to sleep early. I don’t remember watching any of the games nor do I remember how it came to be Germany vs Brazil at the finals. However, I remember quite well that I lost my voice on 1st July as I made noise in school in the name of celebrating Brazil’s 2-0 win. I really shouted and screamed and made fun of those who didn’t ‘love’ Brazil.
If you asked me then where Brazil was I probably would have stared back at you with a blank smile. I only knew Limuru, Nairobi, Kisumu and Maseno. My GHC teacher was always saying Brazil is right under America. I had never seen America except on TV while watching ‘Rambo’, I always thought Brazil followed America in this line of countries pre-imagined in my head. Home would come third probably. Germany would come last in my list since they were beaten by Brazil. The best always comes first and the worst comes last, at least that’s how it’d been in school.
I was not stupid. I knew I was Kenyan and I knew there were 8 provinces in Kenya. I knew we had a President called Moi and I also knew that the provinces were headed by PC’s. What I didn’t know is why. Why did we have a president? Why did we have PC’s? Why did we have chiefs and sub chiefs?
These myriad of questions always poked my intelligence. I would listen to the teacher and ask myself why I was in school. Why did I have to wake up every day and come to school and fail to watch TV? Why did we have milk every day at school? Why couldn’t we choose when to come to school and when not to? Why were there different subjects to be taught? ‘Why’ was always in my mind.
That day, 1st July, he walked into our class. I can’t remember the name now but I know we used to call him “My Music Teacher”. We called him that because of a simple song he always made us sing before teaching. By the way My Music Teacher never taught us, he always made us listen to his own songs and stories. He never lacked a new story and always had a new song for us. We would sing and sing and sing and then he would tell us nice and funny stories. Some stories were so funny that to this very day I wonder how he came up with them. But he didn’t just tell us stories to make us laugh and love him. The stories always had something in them. Something deep we couldn’t grasp. Something comforting we could trust. Something bright we could look forward to. Something worth our time.
So on this day after we had sung “My music teacher…” he starts talking to us about University. I had obviously heard of the university as we lived next to one. But My Music Teacher on this day painted heaven to me. He painted freedom and hope. He made me want to be in university. To this day I still hold on to the line: “In university you’ll have the chance to become”. The words on that day that I was celebrating Brazil’s win have lived with me until when I stepped in to university and found utter confusion.
I may fail in University. Not because My Music Teacher lied to me. Not because Brazil isn’t right under America and neither because I’m stupid but because the education system is fake! I still ask myself “why” 12 years later. Like in 2003, I still ask why I have to read something that will not be useful to my career. I still ask myself why I have to have course outlines that lecturers abuse whole-heartedly. I still want to know why university is no different from class 3 and high school. Where is the chance for me to become when all that people care about is GPAs? Where is the chance to be innovative when lecturers don’t care about students projects? Where is the freedom to choose what you want to become when a course contains unnecessary units? Can’t we just choose to specialise on what we want and leave the useless units? Why are we tested “equally” when we are all different?
It is another great World Cup year and once again Brazil is my team. My Music Teacher is no longer there to teach me good music and give me hope with beautiful stories. My earphones however are comforting enough. University is a mess. Especially my university. I am ready to specialise but I’m still being taken round and round like in class 3. Maybe it’s up to me to choose. Maybe it’s time I write my own ‘stories and songs’ like My Music Teacher and paint my life. I’m in search of something deep, something comforting, something bright, something worthy. Something great.