Category Archives: DeKUT

Dedan Kimathi University of Technology

UNIVERSITY STUDENTS MOVEMENT: COMRADES OPPOSE FEE INCREMENT

There is an outbreak of narrow-mindedness in this nation. It has nothing to do with people being ignorant and/or not learned. Contrarily, the persons now being viewed as narrow-minded are highly learned individuals appointed to positions of power by virtue of their learning and, as we had assumed, because of their wisdom too. Most of these individuals are PhD holders and professors no less. Nevertheless, there are people now convinced that their certificates are only worth the papers on which they are written. It turns out that the public might have been mistaken and given credit before it was earned. So who is this judicious authority who so audaciously decides to label these characters as narrow-minded? And who exactly are the recipients of this seemingly rash judgment? It all started with a cabinet secretary and his cronies deciding that the fee being paid by university students needs to be revised upwards. The comrades reacted in kind and formed all kind of foul opinion against the proponents of the fee increment. Those opinions are now being thrown around on social media, absorbed and then regurgitated, getting viler by the minute.

There is a necessity at this juncture to sober up and try to resolve this issue amicably. The comrades should avoid burning out their combative vigor on Twitter and Facebook because soon they might need that strength and passion to make a formidable stand and righteously demand for considerate action from their government. But before that glorious day of intellectual debate amongst the key stakeholders, it is crucial to analyze this issue and see where merit lies. To that end, two questions come to mind. First, has the government any grounds for increasing the fee for university students? Second, what reasons do comrades have for opposing that move?

Well, a committee was formed back in 2010 and its findings found out that it was about time that the fees rose to reflect the general trend of the economy. It is purported that the committee came to this conclusion after consulting all stakeholders including university students themselves. This in itself makes one wonder which students were consulted and, more importantly, in what context. It is hard to conceive of any circumstances under which comrades would be so cavalier about something which has the potential to shake the very core of their puny budgets and survival economy. It is even harder to believe that any student would agree to the same without first imposing a long list of prerequisites.

Anybody who has ever set foot in university as a student can very easily imagine what the demands of the comrades will be. First, that manna from Anniversary Towers needs to either come more frequently or in bigger servings. If the economic development since independence are what necessitate a fee increment, then surely the same economy calls for higher loans per student too. Secondly, it serves no purpose to simultaneously increase the fee and the HELB loans. At the end of the day, the students’ pain would not be alleviated. Anyone who thinks that the university students in this nation have no financial pains is terribly misinformed. It is an enigma why no one has formed a committee to investigate the facts pertaining to how students make ends meet. After all, we have become a nation of committees and relegated common sense to a secondary role of confirming what committees have said.

It is a pity that men and women who went through the same education system so quickly forgot how hard it is being a student. How can they not remember how difficult it can be to survive on campus? Or have the trappings of power, the prestige of wealth and the vanity of renown blinded them to the struggles of others, in this case, the comrades’ struggle? These cabinet secretaries and their overbearing committees should open their eyes and remember the reasons why HELB was established in the first place. Our forefathers had the vision of making education as accessible as possible to the bright but poor youth of this great country. So before anyone starts tabling proposals and enacting changes which threaten this ideal pursuit, let them remember what a gloom future awaits us at the pit of ignorance. On the other hand, the future is ours for the taking if we can faithfully empower the young men and ladies who are ready and willing to pursue academic excellence so that one day they can command their place as the vanguard of development in this nation.

To contribute to this topic on Twitter use the hashtag #UnivStudentsMovement and follow the author @KelvKi.

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE DEKUT’S DISCIPLINARY COMMITTEE.

We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light (truth). – Plato

Dear ladies and gentlemen, or is it lady and gentlemen? I suspect that the secretary does not have voting powers, which only leaves one other female in the committee, or at least in the committee that decided to suspend a number of us in connection to last October’s student unrest in the school. I do not know about the other students, but these are the reasons I was given for my two years suspension. You say that based on the evidence presented and my oral mitigation, the committee found me “guilty of the following offences in accordance with section 6.2 of the Rules and Regulations Governing the Conduct and Discipline of Students of The University”:
i) Writing, publishing and/or distributing of anonymous literature of a malicious or libelous nature including placards.
ii) Any attempt to conceive, design or effect a scheme or strategy of whatever nature whose object or logical consequence is to disrupt the due operation of academic or other programmes of the University.
Consequently, you suspended me from the university for two academic years and warned me not to continue writing inciting and/or defamatory content against the university community lest further action be taken against me. In addition, you went ahead to threaten me with an expulsion should I violate any of the university’s rules and regulations, which, if I understand correctly, includes writing on my blog, right? The evidence you had against me were printed copies of the content of this blog. Now, let me state from the outset that if speaking is wrong, then I am ready for a longer suspension or expulsion. Those are not the kind of things that would have me worried. What worries me has to do with explaining to my brothers why I was suspended from school. Just so you understand why this would worry me, I want you to know that they raised me following my parent’s demise. The far I have come is because of the substantial sacrifices on their part. So going home and telling them that I was suspended because of writing on my blog will not suffice. They went through sleepless nights, toiling day and night so I could be provided for. All I did was read. As you can see, it is they who put in more effort. As such, they will demand to understand the reasons for my suspension inside out. Personally, I still do not understand those reasons.
It is for that reason that I choose to write to you and ask you to please explain it to them in better and simpler language what exactly in the blog is libelous. What exactly qualified as inciting and malicious content? And like I have asked before, does this institution have any intent to foster a free and democratic learning environment? An environment where students can express their idealistic, romanticized versions of how things should be, and the teachers among you can correct those thoughts to put them in line with current reality? And what is the university’s deal with criticism? Some people in authority seem to frown upon it as if their very lives were being threatened. Or is it their jobs? Whichever it is, some things cannot be left to be if we are to reach the levels of academic and technological excellence we aspire for as outlined in our mission and vision; that’s the simple truth and you can take it or leave it. I know that this previous statement in itself should be enough to make at least one member of the committee start thinking of expelling me; I saw how much some of you are annoyed when the truth is spoken fearlessly. Was that not the reason I was accused of rudeness during the hearing? I understand that the proponents of the status quo never wish to see anything change, for better or worse, because they are afraid they may lose out in the new order of things. It is such kind of people who would suspend or expel an outspoken student without a second thought, and in total disregard to due process.
I apologize if I seem to confuse agenda in the paragraph above. I blame it on the fact that despite my wish to have my brothers understand why I was expelled from school, I also have this competing desire to understand why it is so difficult for you to accept that students have rights. I exercised one of those rights and one of you almost went ballistic. He could not believe that I had looked him in the eyes and frankly let him know that I was going to exercise my right to privacy. How can we trust you to uphold our rights when you are not happy when we are exercising them? Another seemed to think that I needed to be highly informed and learned before I can form an opinion. Perhaps he would not mind to go check up the meaning of ‘opinion’, because, in my opinion, he needs an understanding of the term which is based on fact and not his own opinion. Did I lose you there? I am talking to the gentleman who said he could not see the difference between “I am not ready to….” and “I will not….” That was shocking considering that you, sir, have a master’s degree, or so I heard; did you honestly not learn that anywhere within the system you went through? Is that the same system of learning you are so desperately working to maintain? And are you so intent on ensuring its perpetuity that you would be willing to ruin, or postpone, the dreams of some innocent students whose only wish is to graduate and have the same chances at life as you? But I hear that there are people who do not like competition, who do anything to weed it out before it even has a chance to survive. Maybe this is because to compete effectively, one has to keep improving, keep changing. We all know that change is the antithesis of the status quo; it is either one or the other. Ironically, those suspended are not even the real threat, if any student can be regarded as a threat. The real threat lies elsewhere, but when I tried to tell you where that is, you wouldn’t listen. You were too busy trying to prove me guilty.
Interestingly, despite all your concerted efforts to ascertain my guilt, here we are again – with me still protesting my innocence and you not having satisfactorily pointed out how and why I am guilty. You say that this blog is my attempt to disrupt the operations of the university, but do you honestly believe that yourselves? Which specific content here would make anyone stop working or fail to attend class? Will you please explain the logic used to arrive at that conclusion to my brothers because I surely cannot? Don’t hold my shortcomings in that respect against me, that’s why I came to university and pay my school fees – to be taught things I do not know. The one thing I would really like to know right now is: Who did I cross and how did I wrong them? I am ready to go home for my two years, even more, but before that I need to know why I had to be suspended. I don’t want to tell anyone who’ll mind to ask that I do not exactly know why I was suspended. Neither do I want to take home the thought that some persons in authority are vindictive towards the students. These are some of the issues I wish you would take time to make me and my brothers understand. In the meantime, I will be packing, just in case the vice-chancellor decides to uphold your decision, something I was told is a near certainty.

Yours Faithfully,
Kay Qube.

DISCIPLINARY COMMITTEE ISSUES VERDICTS: 3 SUSPENDED ALREADY.

By around noon yesterday, I had seen four of the rulings by the disciplinary committee on the cases that were heard on the 4th of December. The first letter I saw was mine, of course. But even before I opened it, I knew what to expect. Earlier discussions with Manana, who also collected the verdict yesterday, had given me a clue on the leanings of the committee, two years suspension and a mandatory guidance and counseling session upon resuming school in 2016. Of the four rulings I saw, only one student got off with a “stern warning”, Manana and I were given two years suspension and the other was sent home for one year. About nine other students who also appeared before the disciplinary committee had not collected their letters by the time I left school at around 12.30 p.m. But at that rate, at least six of the remaining nine will get suspended for different periods of time. Why are we being suspended, you may wonder? Various reasons, ranging from writing on social media and blogs to allegations of obstructing university staff and destruction of university property. The only problem is that some of these allegations were not sufficiently proven during the hearing. Nevertheless, the committee went ahead and suspended us.
At my hearing, the chairman of the committee agreed with me that in writing this blog I was doing no more than exercising my constitutional right to hold and express an opinion. Which now leaves me wondering: Does our university not recognize our constitutional rights? Has anyone in the disciplinary committee properly gone through the Kenyan constitution to see what it says about the rights to life, freedom of expression, opinion, human dignity, assembly, association, etc.? But even more importantly, do these rights, and the spirit upon which our constitution was founded, mean nothing around here? Each time I reread this letter containing the committee’s resolution, I am baffled even further. In its ruling, the disciplinary committee seems to imply that since I signed the Rules and Regulations document, I effectively gave up my human rights as long as I am in DeKUT. I think that this is ridiculous, but clearly no one is laughing because of the seriousness of the consequences. All in all, I fail to understand why the disciplinary committee does not want us to express ourselves. The ruling says that the committee resolved that, and I am quoting from the letter, “[I] be warned that if [I] continue writing… further action will be taken against [me].” Which further action, what more can they do? Expel me? Or sue me because I was courageous enough to express my opinion on things that have been happening? Go ahead if you so wish, but I know I have rights and I intend to exercise them.
We have heard it said many times that one man’s meat is another man’s poison. Well, as extraordinary as it may sound, one person was actually excited upon knowing how the disciplinary committee ruled on his case. And not just excited, but considerably so; indeed, he is the one who noted that the letters initially being given out were not stamped at all. The student, Manana, has confided in me that he intends to sue the university. Over a week ago, he had actually posted on his Facebook TL expressing his intention to seek legal redress. He cited many grounds for his suit, amongst them being defamation due to false accusations. To be truthful, whoever chooses whom to call to the disciplinary committee, and the reasons for calling them, is not very diligent in collecting evidence. Some of us were accused of missing scheduled classes (that’s a disciplinary offence if you didn’t know) while we were not even meant to have any classes that day. How long would it have taken to check thirteen timetables, and then corroborating with a handful of lecturers to ascertain that a student missed class, assignment or a CAT? That way, no student would have felt as if they were being unjustly accused and being targeted for suspension. But I am in no position to teach professors, doctors and other qualified personnel how to do their jobs, it is them to teach us by setting an example. Sadly, the example being set here leaves a lot to be desired. That is the Kimathi we have.
Despite the fate that has befallen these comrades, it is still Christmas time y’all. So spread the love and cheer, have fun to the maximum. I mean, Mututho himself recognized the sanctity of Christmas and decided not to tax us for house parties. So who are you not to party it up? From my end, I wish you a Merry Christmas comrades!!!
Kay Qube, over and out.

NYAYOISM IN KIMATHI?

There are many people we know today whose names might never have made any headlines had they not reacted to the infamous terror characteristic of Nyayoism. Of course, I was not there to have witnessed most of it. I did not even once taste the famous Nyayo’s milk which used to be given to primary school pupils nationwide. To me, Nyayoism is nothing more than a concept I read in my history books. I was too young to have anything but a shallow recollection of experiencing any of its ups and downs, and it is very few that I experienced. However, my capacity for empathy enables me to feel the responsibility borne by anyone who tried to change things during those oppressive times. Heroes and villains were born from that struggle which later came to be known as The Second Liberation. The heroes are those who sacrificed their freedom while risking much more than that, so that we can enjoy the human rights we are now taking for granted with this proposed Media Bill, et cetera. They are people like Raila Odinga, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Tom Mboya, etc. Not everyone was in favour of granting liberties though, there were villains who tortured, imprisoned and allegedly killed the heroic dissenters. Unfortunately for the oppressors and luckily for us,  change is inevitable when men and women are willing and ready to give up their lives for it. That’s ultimately how things played out, the good guys won and the bad guys lost.
When I started blogging about Kimathi university, it was more of a reactive move than a proactive one. My complacency up until that point is inexcusable, we should all have acted earlier. Waiting until someone died before doing something is just as bad as actually killing them. Anyway, after that first blog post, I expected that speaking the truth was going to make some powerful people really annoyed at me. For sure, they were annoyed, not much more than I expected but definitely at par with my expectations. I ended up being called to disciplinary because of writing this blog. The committee had printed out the articles in my blog. They were the ‘evidence’ being used to throw accusations at me. During the hearing, the head of the committee told me that he understood what I meant when I said that, “…[Kimathi] is reminiscent of Moi’s era…” in one of my earlier articles. It was interesting to note that he did not make an effort to defend and/or justify the institution; instead he accused me of trying to incite the students. I call it accusation because I’ve never set out to incite anyone. The things that happened in that disciplinary hearing have kept me awake on a number of nights. Not because I am concerned about the committee’s ruling. To be honest, I couldn’t care less what they decide to do with me. In any case, it is a win or win situation for me. On one hand, I get to continue with my studies. But on the other hand, if we, those who appeared before the committee, are sent away, then they prove that Kimathi is losing the very last bits of its sense of justice, fairness, and the rule of law.
The reason I have been having a hard time sleeping is because I started drawing parallels between DKUT and the Nyayo government. If you were to seek the opinion of the people who suffered the brunt of that government’s terror, I think you would be disturbed to find these many similarities, however superficial they may be:
1. Kimathi: Students are called to appear before the disciplinary committee on false accusations e.g. missing classes even though there were no classes at the said time. Nyayoism: People were either taken to jail or any of the numerous torture chambers on unproven allegations and before trial.
2. Kimathi: Someone faces a disciplinary committee because of something they said or wrote. Nyayoism: The press was silenced and any individuals who tried to publish negative things about the government were either arrested or forced to exile.
3. Kimathi: Students are afraid of the administration, a number of students view the administration as an enemy to be avoided instead of as a partner to work with. Nyayoism: Fear and terror were instruments of administration, they allowed the government to do whatever it wanted without being questioned.
4. Kimathi: Last week, at least one student was appearing before the disciplinary committee for the second time. Some students have complained, albeit unofficially, of being targeted because of their tribes. Nyayoism: Nepotism and favouritism ruled supreme. Even development was directed towards one region of the country.
5. Kimathi: The most atrocity against students is not perpetrated by persons in the upper echelons of administration but by the junior staff. What the big wigs do is simply turn a blind eye when a complaint is filed or brought up. Nyayoism: Moi’s hands were always clean, he himself never killed anyone we know of nor did he give any direct orders to kill someone. It is his cronies who were willing to get their hands dirty and do anything so that they would keep receiving a share of the pie.
6. Kimathi: The people in authority close their eyes to the things that are actually wrong and concentrate on victimizing apparently innocent students. Real issues like Morris’ death are only mentioned en passant and even then only in brief. No one wants to deal with the cause of the problem, just treat the symptoms and hope another symptom doesn’t pop up. Nyayoism: The same thing happened in Moi’s times. Everyone was so busy kissing superior a** that no one had any time to contribute anything towards development. Consequently, the economy grew weaker and the country took a major hit to its development efforts. And what have we got to show for it? Kenya at 50 is still plagued by poverty, taxes we cannot afford and illogical fees for holding house parties or slaughtering your own cow, but that is not even the bad of it. At the extreme end we have real monsters like tribalism and corruption which threaten to bring this country to its knees one day. Not to say that they haven’t already, we saw what happened in 2007/2008.
Historically, oppressive regimes have always been forcefully overthrown or run their course with the retirement, exile or death of their founder. But on rare occasions, the leaders at the pinnacle of power end up getting an enlightenment or revelation of sorts which makes them change their leadership style. Hopefully, Kimathi will go through one of those rare transitions and become the kind of institution we can all be proud to be a part of as casual labourers, students, junior staff or senior members of staff.
[You can leave your comments or opinions in the comments section.]

4 SIMPLE WAYS YOUR FACEBOOK ACCOUNT CAN BE HACKED.

We’ve all had one of our online accounts hacked at least once. If not, then we know someone who has. Sometimes it happens because of bad luck, but many a time it’s because we are careless and go around leaving our passwords in every computer we use to log in to our accounts. Today I’ll teach you a few simple things you can do to make sure your passwords remain private and that no one can access your account without your explicit permission and knowledge. But first let me ask, do you know how hackers manage to log in to your account? Well, there are many ways really, and we certainly cannot look at all of them here. However, people who hack social sites are more often than not small time hackers. As such they use simple hacks which we can anticipate and effectively counter.

A quick word of caution though, just because these hackers do not have a plethora of technical skills at their disposal does not mean that they are not a real threat. Someone can find a way to cause real damage to your social image, professional profile, personal relationships or crucial banking information just by accessing your email or Facebook account. Imagine logging in to your Facebook account and finding a notification that Annitah Kui SmartAss, Johnnie De Byadbouy Popcan and 23 other people commented on your post. So you click on the link and you find that a hacker used your account to post this on your timeline:

“Forgive me Lord, I’ll never abort another child. Rest in peace my sweet unnamed angel, Mommy wishes she had been wiser.”

Or maybe the hacker noticed you are male and decided to post this instead:

“I don’t know how to tell my Dad that I am gay. I cannot change who I am, but I don’t think he will accept me as his son anymore.”

Now imagine that Annitah Kui is a smart-ass frenemy from all the way back in high school. Perhaps because of that boy she liked but who ended up hitting on you and not her. How many people, family or friends, do you estimate she’ll have told to check your timeline by the time you find that notification? What if Johnnie De Byadbouy is not just a bad boy but a mouthy one too, and he goes about telling everyone about that post? More importantly, how many people do you think will entirely believe that your account was hacked even after you explain? This is a competitive society where everyone is ready to believe the worst about the next person. It simply makes them feel better about themselves. When you give people fodder for rumour, expect tongues to start wagging. It totally sucks when it’s your name that’s on everyone’s tongue, and not in a positive way. So be careful whenever you log in (and, as you’ll see below, also log out) of any of your online accounts, be it Facebook, Yahoo, GMail, Twitter, Instragram, etc.

The question that most of us are not able to answer even after their accounts have been hacked is: How did it happen? How was anyone able to guess my password? First off, in some cases, one doesn’t need to know your password to access your account. Surprise! I’ll explain why this is so by listing some of the most common ways your account can be hacked.

  1. Whenever you fill in your username and password, some of us enable the ‘Remember Me’ or ‘Keep me logged in’ checkbox, see image below. What this does is that even after you log out, your username/email and password fields will ALWAYS be filled in at the login screen as shown in the picture. If a stranger gets their hands on the computer you were using, all they need to do to is click “Log In”. Voila! A stranger is now logged in to your account. You’ve been hacked my friend! In this case, the person does not need to know anything about you prior to the hack, you are the one helping him hack your account.
     Keep me logged in check box enabled on Facebook login page.
    Here the ‘Keep me logged in’ check-box is enabled on Facebook login page. This makes the computer you are using to remember your username and password.
  2. A slightly different, but more dangerous way, in which you may be exposing yourself to hacking is by saving your passwords in the computers you use, see image below. Most of the time when you click “Log in” in any website, your browser brings a pop-up window asking you to choose whether to remember your password or not. If you have ever selected “Remember Password” in any computer that is not your personal computer, I’d advise that you go and change that password right now. Why? Because anyone who can access that computer can see both your username and password, and can use this information to either log in to your account from any other computer in the world, or completely change your password and the password recovery information so that you can never log in to or recover that account again. In short, if someone has both your password and username, they can take over your account in such a way that you cannot even reset the password. And just like that your beloved Facebook or Twitter account is gone for good.
    Pop-up window asking whether to remember the password of an account or not.
    Would like the browser to remember the password for this account? No please, I don’t like being hacked.
    If you select ‘Remember Password’ in the pop-up window shown above, your password and username will be saved somewhere in the browser as shown in the following picture. This is how a browser e.g. Mozilla saves usernames and passwords whenever you tell it to remember a password. Anyone using the computer can therefore be able to access your account by checking the username and corresponding password. (Part of the passwords have been blanked for the sake of the clueless owners.)
    Image
  3. A totally different approach to hacking is what is known as ‘social engineering’. Social engineers rely on the ever growing trend to socialise with strangers online. A social engineer will first send you a friend request, then perhaps comment on your picture or status update, an inbox message may then follow. Before you know it, the two of you are chatting back and forth like old friends. After establishing this rapport, the hacker posing as a friend will then find ways to extract private information from you without arousing suspicion. Unless you are really careful, you can’t notice because the hacker is experienced; they know how to make their questions appear like part of the natural conversation that the two of you are having. The information he gets from you can then be used to either make an informed guess of your password or, alternatively, to reset your password by answering the secret questions which you selected when you created your account. For your information, social engineering is not confined to social media alone. You can also be socially engineered via email, LinkedIn, or any other online accounts you own, this is sometimes called phishing depending on how it’s done.
  4. There is also another hacking technique you have commonly seen in movies, we will call it brute force. A hacker simply guesses your password as many times as he can until he gets it right. You might be thinking, “But that’s impossible!” Well, think again. There are computers and computer programs designed specifically for this kind of hacking. When you use a simple dictionary word or a number as password, you are very vulnerable to brute force hacking. A hacker’s computer program will simply keep guessing the words in the dictionary until it finds the right password for your account. It can also guess any combination of letters, numbers and any other symbols you may have included in your password. Theoretically, this kind of attack can crack any static password given enough time. Luckily for us all, this kind of hack only works for small passwords or those which can be found in the dictionary. You can therefore avoid brute force attack by creating a strong password of more than 8 characters including numbers and symbols. Passwords like love, money, 1234, password and so on should therefore be avoided if you want to be able to withstand a brute force attack.

The first two hacks can only be used by someone who has access to a computer you have previously used, this can be a cyber-cafe in your estate or a computer lab in your school. But the last two can be used by pretty much anyone, even from their basement somewhere in Slovakia. This post only sheds light into the simple hacks that can be used against you. In the next posts, I’ll tell you how to avoid each one of them and how to be generally safer online. We’ll start with the first two: click here to see how to avoid those two hacks.

FREE MY TONGUE APPEARS BEFORE THE DISCIPLINARY COMMITTEE.

After the student unrest of 24th October, I was compelled to write and say some things which I felt needed to be said. I knew from the word go that I would be rubbing some people the wrong way and would attract criticism and disapproval if not outright hatred. What I had not anticipated was being invited to the disciplinary committee because of this blog’s content. It happened anyway, and on Wednesday I spent the better part of the morning waiting for my turn to go into that fateful boardroom where the guilt or innocence of some nine accused students would be determined. I heard that there were four more accused students who were not in attendance at the time. After a three hour wait, I was finally called into the boardroom around noon.
According to the letter I had received on the 26th of November inviting me to appear before the student disciplinary committee, I was accused of seven odd counts of disciplinary offenses. Surprisingly, the disciplinary committee did not have any evidence proving that I had committed any of those offenses. Apparently, everything on the letter I had received was mere allegations. However, I read something positive in all that. Despite popular opinion, the disciplinary committee is not an ogre out to devour your chances of a university education at any cost. I found out for myself that most of the members of that committee are more than ready to listen and reason. Sadly, one or two of them took things far too personally and became overly sensitive; they seemingly lacked the kind of professional detachment that helps people make important decisions easily. What bothered me more is how that narrowed their perspective. A narrow perspective is a dangerous thing when dealing with students, because inevitably we want to be sure that they are being understood. You cannot understand another person unless you widen your perspective so you can see things from their perspective.
The disciplinary committee is intimidating by its mere membership. Some very important people were present at the hearing, something the registrar AA felt the need to emphasize. As if the importance of any of the committee’s members could ever be lost on any student. Equally important, but infinitely more helpful to the students’ cases, were three DeKUTSO leaders: Dennis, finance secretary, Kuraru, vice-chairperson, and Mosi, the chairperson. Personally, having the three of them by my side was reassuring, especially during those first few moments when I did not know what to expect from the committee. I drew strength from their presence because I understood that DeKUTSO is me, and I am DeKUTSO. These were my lawyers, arbitrators, and the referees in a game that could turn dirty any moment. Some students go to these disciplinary hearings guns blazing, trying to use aggression to prove their innocence. In such cases, the student leaders serve to advice such a student on how best to handle their defense. But it’s not only students who break the rules or play unfairly; the members of the disciplinary committee might also cross some lines at times. This again leaves the student leaders with the responsibility of mediating for fairness during the hearing or deciding of a case.
I asked if the committee would be infringing upon any student’s constitutional rights in its bid to prove the accused guilty of all and/or any charges. Prof. Muthakia was quick in reassuring me that the committee recognized those rights and that none would be infringed. That was quite a relief. Initially the committee had wanted me to discuss everything I did on the 24th of October in detail, accounting for where I was, what I did and at what specific time. I refused to do this for two reasons. First, from the committee’s viewpoint, the reason I was to discuss what I did was so I could prove that I was innocent. This tacitly implied that I was being assumed guilty even before trial began, and that it was my duty to prove myself innocent. This was an assumption I could not work with.  Second, Article 31 of our constitution protects our right to privacy. Specifically, it protects us from having information relating to our private affairs unnecessarily required. Because the committee had not provided any evidence against me, I chose to exercise this right. A member of the committee became all touchy when I did, and ended up accusing me of being rude. I simply kept quite so as not to lead any credence to that claim; but here on my blog I am free to say that if exercising my God-given and constitutionally protected human rights is rudeness, then I am sorry but I cannot help it.
You may be wondering: What then had me called to appear before the disciplinary committee? Writing this blog was the main and, it also turned out, only reason. You should listen to you mother when she tells you that speaking too much is not good for you. Anyway, to prove that I am actually a stupid person, here I am doing it again. Although this time I have the verbal go-ahead of our deputy VC, Academic Affairs, Prof. Muthakia. He actually told me to write if I want to, as long as I do not infringe upon another person’s constitutional rights in so doing. I never intended to that.  It is criminal to publish malicious or libelous content, or incite others to violence. This is something that a student should have in mind before posting his/her opinion about Kimathi or its administrators online as if it is the gospel truth. At the very least, one should be considerate enough to state that whatever he/she is posting is an opinion. If you fail to do this, there’s a clause in the rules and regulations which allows disciplinary action to be taken against you. Trust me when I tell you that you do not want to face the disciplinary committee at all. Their job is to prove you guilty and then discipline you. They are highly learned and very experienced, much more than you in both cases. And to make it all worse, they are many and you are one. Acting within the rules and regulations goes a long way; it also emboldens you to stand up for yourself. Further, DeKUTSO can better defend you when you are innocent than when you are guilty.
We were told to await the verdicts within fourteen days. When mine finally comes, I’ll be here to tell you whether I am still a comrade or if some evidence suddenly popped up having me sent packing. I doubt that the committee will issue me with a gag order not to write anymore, they do not have such mandate. So rest assured that Free My Tongue will be here to keep blogging on the issues we want to be addressed in Kimathi. In the meantime, you can keep us updated on the issues affecting you as a student by commenting below.
PS: A moment of silence for Nelson Mandela, may his soul rest in eternal peace. It is sad that heroes have to die too, perhaps it happens so new ones can be born. But in commemoration of the principles he embodied, and encouraged by his selfless example, may we all set out to be heroes of something. You can be a hero in academics, sports, religion, family, leadership, etc. Pick something you are good at and give it your all, hopefully you will not have to spend 27 years in Robben Island or any prison whatsoever to win your struggle.

8 THINGS TO BE PROUD OF IN DKUT.

A lot of good things happen in Kimathi. Many times we are either oblivious of them or we downplay their significance. Today I decided to list some of the important things that we have in our campus and of which one should feel positively proud. Here they are, in no particular order:
1. Research, books and papers.
Behind the scenes, our lecturers and other academicians working in the university are busy conducting research in various fields. Significant breakthroughs are being made too. If you attended the Nyeri County Investors Forum, you might have seen samples of the biodiesel that was a product of Prof. Kioni’s research. In the same spirit, books authored by members of the academic staff have been published. There’s one on business ethics by Father Dr. Mathenge, the school chaplain. Others by people like Dr. Byiringiro are too advanced for me to fully comprehend what they are all about. If you are an engineering student who loves both ODE and fluid mechanics, go check out Dr. Marigi’s et. al. paper on using ODE to solve certain problems in fluid flow. Excerpts of these works or the full texts can be found on the school website.
2. Environmental and Animal Conservancy.
I do not know another university in Kenya with its own wildlife conservancy. Having a conservancy in itself is worth bragging about, but we don’t need to brag because ours is a real dedication to environmental conservation. Almost each semester there are planned tree planting drives, town cleaning, hiking or local tourism activities. We do not just conserve the environment, we also take time to enjoy it. If you have not gone for any hike or visited any of the national reserves within the county since you came to Kimathi, then I do not know what you have been doing. Even book worms take time off to enjoy at least one of the beautiful things in life.
3. Miss Tourism Nyeri County.
Speaking of beauty, the university does have its fair share of beautiful ladies. And I am not the only one who thinks so; the judges in the recently concluded Miss Tourism pageants at the county level were of a similar opinion. The title was won by a comrade, and just like that one of our own was suddenly Miss Tourism Nyeri County. I hear that we also have as a comrade a Miss Tourism from another county. To decide who wins such a title, the judges consider many qualities in the contestants. The judges concluded that two of our female comrades had the best of those qualities in their respective counties. We are officially the source of some beautiful, quality ladies.
4. University Buses.
Don’t bite my head off just yet. I know that transportation of students is the root of most complaints in the university, especially for comrades who live away from campus. But we have to give credit where it’s due. A new bus was bought after years of promise, and it eased the transportation problems a little. Perhaps with time the administration will let them start operating earlier than 4 p.m., and then we can finally get rid of that late evening congestion at the bus park.
5. Library, online resources and e-learning portal.
We have a small library for sure, even in comparison with some universities which are almost equally populated. However, the university has been keeping up with the times to complement the library. We now have courses that are being taken entirely online in the e-learning portal. Further, the university has availed to the students a wide range of online libraries. So all you need is to have a computer with internet connectivity and you can access more books than you can ever read. Those who do not know what I talking about should go to the library help desk and ask for information on online resources. Potentially, we can end all book shortages by using this approach. At this rate, the library might one day become a historical relic whose size and/or equipping no one cares about. After all, the whole world is going digital and we are hot on their heels following suit.
6. Comradeship and DeKUTSO.
The unity of students in the university is growing. This is self-evident from recent events. We are slowly adopting the musketeer’s motto: One for all, and all for one. It was humbling to see the number of students who turned up to protest against the cause of death of one of their own. This unity became more impressive when the students, in furtherance of their cause, stood up against the GSU policemen. Even in the aftermath, the DeKUTSO leadership has not failed us either. The chairperson made official his stand on the matter of students’ unrest through a notice to the students on Tuesday evening. It is not every day that students elect courageous leaders into office, so it was a proud moment reading that notice. DeKUTSO is finding its voice back, and by so doing the students will become more liberated.
7. The Titans and The Dedans.
You should know who these are. The Titans is our hockey team, and they are really good. They may not be national champions right now, but someday they’ll be. The Dedans, on the other hand, is the school’s rugby team. Just this semester, they won the Mt. Kenya Region championship. What a sweet moment that was for the players. We have a lot of sporting talent, in football, handball, netball and basketball too. Unfortunately, there seems to be a dearth of interest from the university towards developing these talents. The rugby team uses money from winnings and contribution from players to buy some of its training equipment. The players are given very meager allowances, whether they win or not. To say that most players are demoralized is an understatement; they are only in it for the love of the game. Hopefully, that love alone will be enough to make them want to win nationally. And we will be right there to cheer them.
8. The Student Mess.
I spoke to a freshman some time back and I was shocked to learn that he did not know anything about a ‘half-plate’. That might be because the students’ mess offers such fair prices for their food. Consequently, some of the freshaz cannot imagine anything much cheaper than that. But those of us who are not freshaz remember half-plates. It was that meal that you would probably never eat but was glad to see in the menu nevertheless. It was like a safety net that you could rely on to catch you when you became too broke. With only ten shillings, you could ease the hunger pangs with a plate of ugali and cabbages, a whole meal at only ten shillings. Even though those days are behind us now, we still have breakfast. At only twenty shillings, you get half a loaf and a cup of tea. If you add ten more shillings, you buy yourself an boiled egg and get to eat a more wholesome breakfast.
This is not an exhaustive list. For one, it does not mention the CU and those dedicated members who preach to us on the buses on our way to school in the mornings. There’s also more talent in campus than I can possibly give credit to in just one article. What’s the thing you feel most proud of in Kimathi? And if I left something that you feel should be in this list, you can always leave a comment or email me and it will be included next time.