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Monday, August 23, 2010

The Maseno Experience --Who said 'money' defines 'class'?

Hey. If you are reading this post and you wondering what the fuss is all about, then perhaps you haven’t experienced the get-out-of-my-face attitude.

Well, I was at Maseno University today. And I am shocked beyond words at what I saw. Well, for a campus, where people go to read and grow, it’s not such a bad place.

The people, right there, were well organized, they served the freshers rather quickly, that by one o’clock, a good number of the fellows were already settled.

So, as I took a stroll to go for lunch, a decent lunch, kind of a send-off (what guys in Nairobi call ‘a treat’), for my small brother.

I saw this signpost: “Snr Staff Guest House.” Knowing “Guest Houses”, I figured that they’d serve all guests, because in any case, my brother was there at the invitation of none other than the Registrar of the University.

So, we sauntered in. There was a Volkswagen Passat with the blue number plate, (definitely some university big-shot), then there was a Toyota (two of these), then a Suzuki 4X4 and that was just about it.

The waitress –not in uniform—welcomed us well and just as she was getting ready to serve me and my bro, one of the customers in a cheap short-sleeved shirt, faded, black long-trousers and no watch (I didn’t have time to look at the shoes), called the waitress and told her not to serve us. Mark you, there were eight men, all men, seated on the table chatting after lunch. Just chatting. Not even a bottle of soda or water. Idlers!!!

The frightened waitress said: “Come over and let me tell you what he’s said.”

I followed her. Then she said. “He said that you are students and should not eat in here.” For your information, she wasn’t speaking in English.

We left.

That was a first in my ken. For real! All the four years at Moi University had taught me respect. We ate and drunk with lecturers. We shared tables with deans. We sometimes just drank tea while chatting with the Vice chancellor just across the table.

Now, I go to Maseno, and I get a culture shock! This is a university where lecturers want to behave like high school teachers.

You know, it is the price which ought to keep students out. Not just because lecturers want to feel like a “club”. If it were a private university, I’d have no qualms. But this was a public university. Even if it had a board –No students allowed here—I wouldn’t dare.

You know, with my blessed observation skills, I kept on looking. There’s the car park next to the administration building. A small white Datsun pickup stood in the parking slot marked “university librarian”. Toyota Premios and a Nissan Sunny occupied the other slots for senior auditors.

Then parastatal vehicles occupied the ones for the DVC. So, if these guys are that proud, why couldn’t I see the opulence? Or it’s just in the mind.

Having been jettisoned out of the scrappy guest house –yes, scrappy, someone should go look at the old, ugly and worn-out sponge and metal chairs, rustic tables with no table-cloth, and a haphazard arrangement of the whole place. Outside was overgrown grass—I lost appetite. I went home, one hour away from Maseno. Don’t ask me about the distance. But there’s no traffic and the road is smooth. Just nine-minutes on a rough dusty stretch after Butere to Ekero (two kilometers from Mumias Town).

I snacked on sugarcane. Drank water and now, I am waiting for ugali and mushroom for supper.

NB: Anyone who’s had lunch at Hilton, Sarova Stanley, The Norfolk; The Intercontinental, Serena or The Marriott, The Grand Hyatt, Four Seasons would know. We walk and let the pocket speak. In the first place, whenever we are broke, we don’t even walk anywhere in there. It’s usually a one-in-a-blue moon affair.

PS: The business sense of some people is just off-side. I mean it!

PS1: Yes, I am on leave and I have harvested maize, it’s now the shelling and storage part J.

PS2: Now land has to get ready for beans and groundnuts.

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