It’s not everyday that you find 20 information scientists gathered under one roof, just having a drink and getting to know each other. So, yesterday, Friday April 8, 2011 was one of those exceptional moments.
Exceptional because I met a person who was a first year at the Faculty in 1992—and he still recalls his admission number, and also there was this person who is yet to graduate who showed up to see how ‘life on the outside’ looks like.
Then there were those who have worked in the Middle East before “they got bored” and came back to Kenya. There was one who still works in the Middle East and now another one who works in West Africa. And those of us who work locally, including the ones whose office is next to the Mukuru slums.
Anyway, away with the generalities and the vagueness, the whole thing was beautiful. Thanks to Abo, Brenda (my sister-in-law), Miriam, and Hilda.
Okay, I met Hilda. She has sweet dreadlocks and a quiet steely demeanour. Bearing in mind that she’s a board member somewhere, I won’t be vivid about the description—just give her an invitation on Facebook and see what you missed! She left early though. Now, that was a technical appearance. But you were going to Mukumu Primary School for some big bash today. Right?
Then, there was Abo. This guy is as laconic as they come, no wonder he so favours the OSL (old-school-laughter). He’s an entrepreneur and he sure has tips or two to share.
Abo, I hope you won’t forget that Silas aka SM (not the Sweet Menthol cigarette) told you to design an alumni website.
Alongside Abo, his colleagues from the class of 97 –Alphonce (my namesake OO), Ateka, and some other guy (why do I forget your name?)-- were the second largest group in the house. I was glad to have met them. And Ateka told us that we should not depend on the IS papers alone, but even get Driving Licences, because we could begin our careers as drivers and then climb up and up and up. Or CPAs, or CISAs or MSCE et al.
With Alphonce as a systems accountant in a plum parastatal and Evelyn (Auta my apologies, it’s just a mention) as a Quality in-charge at a mobile telephony giant, we got the point.
Also, Peter came all the way from Saudi and told us that his job is to manage (Cisco) routers. “When you make a call, your voice is split into data packets…then those packets are put back into voice so that the other person gets to hear your voice,” he told us. ‘Someone manages that router and that person is me”.
Well, that’s not IS, but telecommunications engineering.
We’ll go looking for more papers outside IS, just to open up more opportunities. And those still in school, better heed this advice.
I know Auta will add that you have to market yourself with that one degree if you don’t have either the extra papers or money to help you pursue further education. But as I told Eric, he of the yet-to-graduate class of 2011, out here is a combination of God, hardwork and lots of luck.
And Auta was there, and not in a firestone t-shirt and a short as he had promised. He had an explanation to his date which I overheard, and it will be bad manners for me to write it here.
I learnt that passion juice is “sharubati ya mkarakara”, and that Auta in his words, wouldn’t want us near his office, because of the dust and the “women selling boiled maize and githeri.”
“Utafika kwa ofisi unione navuta drawer kutoa mandazi nimenunua kwa hao kina mama wa Mukuru….” OSL! Then he went ahead to say that back in the day, he and Ogutu and some other guy “would just meet over tea and talk, talk, talk. Tungejua, tungekuwa tunaongea kuhusu vitu vya maana”.
Of course Evelyn was at his side all this time, being literally introduced to the extended family of cousins and more cousins.
There was Nganyi and we got to know two or three things about his work history. That he actually quit PWC after three or so weeks because he didn’t like the working environment—they had been allocated office space in some dinghy basement. How about that? Thanks W for the heads up.
Then there’s this guy of the class of 2006, who works at the Kenya National Archives. I didn’t get his name. But I think he’s my neighbor, I’ve seen him around Lumumba Drive. When I meet him, I will ask him again. The guy confessed that he had no interest in Records Management, but right now he was actually part of the cream that manages the records of the Government of the Republic of Kenya. He majored in IT, I think. But now, he must be at home at The Archives, because, if he were incompetent, I am sure he’d have hit the road.
There was a call about the Alumni Association. Let’s wait for the memo from Double O aka Alphonce.
Edd was there also. He’s quite young. Yes, as Ogutu would say, I put name to face or is it face to name? And Mathew OJ was there. He looks like one who has “arrived”.
Mbogo from Lagos gave us his story about being threatened at the airport that he “almost cried”. His was an episode from “Banged Up Abroad”.
“As in, you’re being harassed by this Nigerian hustler and conman. Then you rush into the airport, and report the guy to a police officer. The police officer asked me, how can you be harassed yet you’re a man?” How about that?
Okay, about that column, let’s see how it pans out.
So, what did I learn about the people I met? I mean, apart from where they work and what they do? Well, Abo, Brenda, Hilda and Miriam had a small game for us that had us ask basic ice-breaking questions without being coy or shy about it.
I know that Evelyn exercises twice a week (how else would she have made it atop Mt Kenya to sing ‘Niko na Safaricom’?). I also know that Mathew OJ has slept in a hospital overnight and that he also uses a hotmail account.
Brenda eats slowly and she’s been on TV; Abo dislikes cooking. Hilda had not been to the cinema in the past month and Michael Owende has an expired passport.
Isabelle is left-handed and has slept in a tent; Edd and W have been arrested by the police and Eric knows how to swim. I didn’t find anyone who’s on the Yu network and I didn’t find anyone who doesn’t watch comedies on TV –even Auta watches Machachari (who doesn’t?).
Ogutu and Auta have been to Tanzania, Ogutu knows French and Miriam has never lost a phone.
I have Auta to thank for the bonus because he buys the newspaper everyday. I didn’t find anyone who can ride a motorcycle.
Class of 2007 had the highest number of attendees (SIX). Makofi kwenu. Auta waited for the Tomato Soup or Chicken Soup, that had been written on the menu. He declined mushroom soup and ox-tail soup. And then he dropped the bombshell...that you can actually roast mushrooms. That was new :). Dr Gichoya was there and delivered the Dean's message...something along the lines of "thank you for your support and concern".
Anyway, I had mad fun!
PS: Joan and Nakitare popped in to say hi. That was thoughtful of you even if you work out of town.