As my friend is working hard to get admission to Stanford, I can’t help but empathize with him because I know why. You see in Kenya, Higher education/learning is simply a façade; another four years (or more) of your life going to waste. Yet you still ask why life is so short.
In JKUAT, the narrow-mindedness is so sharp; it actually cuts your IQ into half. The boys here have only two motives; get a sub- woofer and get a girl to move in with you. It’s all about status quo and the more the noise that blasts from your room the higher your ‘status.’ For those living within the school compound, the story is a bit different; who cares about status when the bedbugs are baying for your blood! It is easy to be a girl in JKUAT as there are very few; just be as rare as possible, rarer than Jadeite, which is the rarest gemstone. You are not to be seen in the mess or hall where simpletons gather. You are to be revered. Of course it doesn’t help if you are unsightly. By that, I mean that anyone who casts a glance on you always tries to erase that memory as soon as possible lest they get ghastly dreams. I swear if it weren’t for wigs and skirts, I would confuse quite a number of girls for men.
As for K.U., the first thing you learn is that buildings are more important than students, students are a commodity that bring in money to fund the expansionist plans of that mad woman, Olive Mugenda. Ohh, you got a fail in some units, it doesn’t matter. Olive doesn’t want to discontinue you because it means she’ll lose money. It doesn’t help that K.U. awards more first class honors than every other university in Kenya combined. The first thing you learn in K.U. is that Olive is The Fuhrer, the law, the alpha and omega. When she builds a mall instead of building more hostels, you are not to question her. You are simply to pay school fees, and in time. If K.U. was a bakery, it would be the kind that produces half-baked bread. If you aren’t cheating in an exam in K.U. then probably you are the lecturer’s mistress. If you are a boy, too bad, you only have one avenue. Maybe they should append the universities doctors graduated from to their titles. I don’t know about you but I personally never want to be treated by a doctor from K.U. or Mount Kenya University for that matter. I’d rather die. What is medical treatment anyway, isn’t it delaying the inevitable?
Talking about medicine, I have a friend who wants to do Medicine simply because no other course befits his ‘A’. Now let that sink deep in for a while. Has it sunk yet? No, give it a minute or two. By now if it hasn’t sunk in yet, then you are probably a product of Zetech College. When I asked my father why he chose to pursue Medicine back then, he gave me a long story of how he used to volunteer to help in a small hospital in his hometown during his teenage years. The story is actually long but the bottom line is that he had a passion for it from the onset and knew what it took. Nowadays if someone isn’t doing Medicine for the prestige, they are probably doing it for the money.
It doesn’t help that half of the class in UoN Medicine is privately sponsored aka ‘parallel.’ There is money to be minted in Kenya, not even earned; you just need to be the dean of some medical school. 500,000 KES, cold hard cash per semester! I’d rather use that money to study in South Africa, India or even Australia. Good Lord! People have money in Kenya. Why was I born so late?
Then the lawyers. At this point, the creators of ‘Suits’ should give themselves a pat on their backs for having unleashed an entire generation of young visionless Kenyans whose only dream is to become Lawyers. Their dream is so clear; donning jet-black designer suits, with sheer mark of genius solving the cases that even Sherlock couldn’t fathom, finally popping some Chardonnay to celebrate the victory in court. I hate to be the one to wake you up from this dream, good as it may be but the Kenyan Law system is almost defunct. My crystal ball tells me that these herds of young lawyers unleashed upon the Kenyan job market will be so many that Kenya’s main export will become lawyers. That is when you see people rushing to do MBAs and other what-not’s because they wasted their years in Law school. Blame Suits people, blame Suits. No don’t blame suits, blame herd mentality.
If my sources are true, UoN students will be striking next week. Which is kind of a surprise, I mean, what took them so long, the scene was a bit dull without their stone- throwing, road-blocking, window-smashing shenanigans. UoN is like the Gor Mahia of universities in Kenya. Obstinate, smug, rowdy but most of all, we know where they both excel.
I mean, what do you expect when your own student leader is friends with the likes of Kamlesh Pattni and Raila Odinga. UoN is a perfect mirror of Kenyan society. The classism is so well defined. The rich are rich and the poor are nothing. Elections there make Samuel Kivuitu grin in his grave. Campaigns, murders, rigging, more campaigns, more murders, more rigging. By the time UoN is done with its students, it leaves them with only one predisposition; to always correct people when they forget to add ‘The’ before saying ‘University of Nairobi.’
If USIU is where rich parents dump their dumb children, Strathmore must be where rich parents dump their not-so-dumb children. Strathmore is the kind of university that will make sure the whole Kenya knows that Bob Collymore or Willy Mutunga gave a speech in their university. Yes, Strathmore is a great place but until it produces the next Steve Jobs or someone close, I’ll keep my reservations about it. At most, it is simply a compensation for kids who couldn’t make it to study abroad and were too cool for parallel programs in these public universities.
It’s not that I have anything against religion but I just can’t stomach these church based universities. A place like Baraton, you are definitely better off in Nazi Germany. SDAs are like modern day Pharisees, so stuck up. Now imagine attending an SDA university. High school rules are even more relaxed in comparison.
I don’t know much about CUEA but it’s like the Strathmore for broke parents though it seems a bit more laissez-faire.
There are these peripheral universities; Moi University, Egerton, Masinde Muliro etc. They just make you think peripherally. Students from these universities are nowhere to be seen, it is like they just disappeared into nowhere. Honestly I don’t even know what to write about them because they can hardly be felt. It’s like they are not even part of Kenyan History. Finally, the mushroom universities. You know them. They are usually named ‘something something university college.’ HAHAHA. They are always springing up left, right and center. The degrees they are offering are even more questionable. Something like driving becomes transformed into Automobile Transportation Engineer. Like mushrooms, I’m waiting for them to disappear.
So by all means, to my friend, apply to Stanford. I hope you get admitted.
In Kenya, there is nothing like higher education/learning.