Twiga dormitory. The newest kid in the block; envied by all, possessed by a chosen few. Well, not new as in brand new but new as in 1982 new, the year it was officially opened. The other dormitories were so old they almost had walking sticks for support. The walls of Twiga were painted half cream and half a bright Orange, Telekom Kenya Orange.
After spending the whole of ’97 languishing in the greenish squalor of Nyati Dorm i got the opportunity to move into Twiga lower. Nyati had no sanitation; poor thing had to make do with borrowed, door less shower cubicles, smelly loos and stained urinals from big brother Ndovu. If you have been following this blog am pretty sure you know all about Ndovu, it was the first place a saw the ass of a grown up man while he was taking a shower…..my piss did a sprint back to the bladder!
Twiga on the other hand had the cleanest sanitation, lovely shower cubicles with half doors; definitely better than door less. No asses were on display in Twiga apart from the kawaida ‘walk-into-the-shower-naked’ technique of bad boy Timo, a fourth former.
While Nyati was a roll over away from the dining hall, Twiga was 2 counties away, so in most cases inmates from Twiga had to sprint to make it to the DH on time after seeing a smoke signal from afar. I have awesome Abs as evidence of those days. Ok, i lied, i have no Abs.
But again some of those days may not have been as rosy and sugar coated and vanilla as others, not entirely; bad things happened, terrible things that will never be forgotten…..
Oh, before i get there i have a confession to make. These is for guys who were in Nyeri High with me at some point, specifically Twiga lower, most specifically the head boy in 2000, Phillip. You remember the last loo on the left side of Twiga crap house? Do you remember a specific time in ’98 after the drama festivals when someone scribbled something naughty about Thunguma girls on the wall? Well, that person was not me, but i knew whose hand writing it was…….i swear!
Anyways, here goes the terrible story that happened one cold night in ’98, right after we got ourselves a new Sherrif, Principal Patrick Mungai aka Bomb Blast.
The night was cold, as always. The entire school was deep asleep; there may have been several students studying in the classrooms at night. Me, i loved my sleep, the night was made to sleep and the day to study and eat Mbokio and go to the dispensary for heart burn pills and read love letters from Bishop Gatimu Girls’.
On the contrary, a bunch of boys took the night to prowl, sneak out of school, meet women, drink liqour and ruin other people’s lives.
I cannot recall the specific time this thing happened, might have been some time between 2 or 3 ish at night. Someone screamed from the a cubicle in Twiga lower that the dorm was on fire, most of us awoke with a start. Someone else, probably a sleep lover said it was a hoax. Again, most of us almost went back to sleep. Immediately, more screams rent the air, screams of fire, anguish, fear….uncertainty!
Close to 200 boys all woke up not knowing what was happeneing. The screams continued. In the moment of haste, i thought the entire dorm was on fire and my plan was to head upstairs and jump from the upper dorm; i preferred breaking my legs on the rocks than getting burnt.
Getting closer to the main door it was evident that it wasn’t the main dorm that was on fire, it was the prefects cubicle which was separate from the dorm. We scrambled to get out, all of us trying to fit ourselves out of one door.
The entire cubicle was engulfed in fire, an angry raging fire that was relentless. Some boys were desperately trying to knock down the door which had been locked from outside, obviously by whoever set the cube on fire.
Inside, there were screams. Four Young boys aged between 16 and 18 years evidently languishing as the flames of death lashed their vicious tongues on their entire bodies, choked them with smoke having roused them from their deep slumber. To them, it must have seemed like a terrible dream, only it wasn’t.
Soon as the door broke down, they all rushed out as if from the belly of the unforgiving inferno; four of them, a terrible, pitiful sight as they cried and screamed and tried to pull of burning clothes on their skin. We were stiff scared, we absolutely had no idea what to do or say; we were just screaming and issuing orders to everyone and no one in particular to assist them.
Several images stuck to my mind from that night. I remember one of the victims, Karis, he was the volleyball captain and at that moment a former prefect. He was roaming near the entrance utterly confused and obviously in shock. He asked for a volley ball, just so he could play one last time! At that moment i imagined that the angel of death had already whispered the beginning of the end in his ears.
Harrison Munge was behind the twiga sanitation surrounded by shocked colleagues. He said his throat was dry and wanted drinking water. He mentioned how hot his body felt, asked whther that was his flesh hanging from his body. Said he wanted someone to pour cold water on him. Luckily, no one had the guts or even the mind to do so.
No one slept again that night. Ambulances whisked the 4 poor boys away, some had even passed out and the ones who had not were in deep, unexplainable anguish. At day break, the burnt up cubicle was all that was left as a reminder of four innocent boys and the pain they went through. The air around Twiga smelt of burnt mattress; to me it felt more like burnt human flesh. School was closed indefinitely that day.
Another image that has stuck with me was of Moses Mwangi aka Roho. That morning he was at the window of his cubicle in Twiga upper washing a plastic cup. He threw the water out of the window, seemingly unperturbed by the events that had happened……
The 4 all died in hospital, a bunch of boys were arrested and interrogated on the arson attack and he, Roho, was the one who took the fall, serving life in Naivasha Prison…….
Whether he is guilty or not, only God knows.