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How I lost village school election

By Makau Kitata

We had a prizegiving day in my village primary school. The school has a tradition of producing high-performing pupils who are much sought after by surrounding secondary schools. To ensure this continues, the community arranged a prizegiving ceremony to fete teachers and pupils who had brought honor and pride to the village.

As usual, the area MCA, my classmate in high school, was the last person to attend the meeting. Musembi, another classmate, accompanied him. After Form Four, Musembi started as a messenger to Dr Ochola, who owned the only clinic in our market. He owns a chain of chemists and villagers called him Doctor.

Coming after the church service held next to the school, the ceremony was sure to pull in the entire village. When the speeches began, the head teacher was the MC and kept the crowd hyped by dropping names of the important persons he could spot in the audience.

Anyone who works in a hospital and wears a white dust coat is a doctor in our village. These were the people the head teacher saw that day.

“Welcome back to your school, Dr Ngina,” Hhe saluted my classmate, who became a nurse two years after we left high school.

“I can see Dr Mutuku here,” he acknowledged the medical lab technologist. Many villagers had known his needle when they visited the county hospital laboratory.

“Welcome Dr Elizabeth Musyoki,” he greeted our village mate, an administrator at the county hospital.

“Good to see you, Dr Mutisya”, he welcomed the cleaner in our county hospital.

“Thank you, Dr Mutemi, for showing up,” he waved at my surgeon friend, the only real medical doctor from the village.

Dr Kamau Mutemi worked on the other side of the country in Western Kenya. No one in our village remembers anything about him except the many beers we sloshed together in our local market as college students. The villagers just called him Kamau, and I, Makau – when we were present. As I sat next to him, we chatted to catch-up.

“Since we last sat in those classes, no one has fixed the windows,” I observed.

“How will they fix them when the MCA needs to promise goodies to get elected?” Kamau shot back.

The head teacher announced we had to elect a board of management chairperson to inspire the children and carry on the village tradition. The villagers suggested names, and the head teacher called them to the podium, carful to include everyone with a doctor’s title. We had to convince the villagers to elect us to the BOM.

Many doctor village mates went to the podium and gave inspiring speeches to the children and their parents.

“Dr Musembi, talk to the people,” the head teacher invited.

He gave a well-rehearsed speech, and the MCA joined him in a jig. They embraced heartily as the politician grabbed the microphone to greet the people.

“Daktari, come and address the school,” the head teacher called me.

When I took the microphone, I first sought to clarify what my doctor title meant.

“I am not a medical doctor; I am a doctor of stories,” I said.

The children and their parents looked puzzled. They wondered how someone could be a doctor of tales.

“How do you explain that?” I asked the head teacher. The head teacher came to the podium to help. “He is Dr, PhD.”

The villagers looked at each other, confused.

“Bwana head teacher, explain what it means. We need to complete the elections,” said the MCA, impatient to give his speech to his political followers.

“I think it means Permanent Head Damage,” clarified the head teacher.

The adults giggled as the children eyed me with pity. The MCA looked impressed with the head teacher’s performance. Then, the voting commenced.

When the results were announced, Musembi, the chemists owner, won the chair of BOM. I was last with zero votes. Dr Mutemi, the surgeon, performed better with two votes. And one of those votes was mine. But I was glad that the children of our village would continue associating doctors with medicine and hospitals.

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