Tag Archives: kimathi student dies


I recently watched The Kingdom of Heaven. It is a great movie with intelligent dialogue, which is something I always admire in any movie. One quote that stuck with me from the movie is: “What man is a man who does not make the world better?” Throughout the movie the protagonist applies himself towards making his world better, and in so doing he becomes much more of a man. Unfortunately, I did not get to watch the whole movie because the .flv file was broken and only played up to about the 68th minute. But I had already gotten that important point: When you are in a position to make your world better, please do. Otherwise, you do not have the right to be called a man.
In our small world, Kimathi or whatever you call it, there is a notice still hanging on our notice-boards asking persons who witnessed Morris being run over to come forward and help the police with their investigations. The number of students who were in the bus park that day was over one hundred. Personally, I know a few students who were there and saw it all. Regrettably, most of them will not dare to witness in anything that might negatively affect the school. Does that sound strange to you? Of course not, no one wants to be sent home and cut his /her education short. A student told me that he is only a second year and that he does not want to spend the next two years being victimized at every other turn. He did not mention the victimizers, but I understood what he meant nonetheless; every student can at least relate with that fear. He is of the opinion that the 4th years are the ones who should witness and/or testify because they are leaving anyway; they will soon be beyond the reach of the allegedly oppressive tentacles of our administration. The sad truth is that the 4th years will surely find many reasons not to witness too. Ironically, the fact that they are leaving will be one of them. Although they may not say it openly, this is no longer their struggle (wameondokea). Therefore, they can more easily look the other way, or to put it more concisely, nyinyi mbaki na shida zenu.
This kind of apathy is understandable, perhaps even excusable, in the 4th and 5th year students. Theirs has been a journey fraught with many challenges and difficulties; most of them long gave up hope of better days. The others are just barely holding on, praying that they do not face any more frustrations before graduation. The 5th year engineering students are not that lucky, their departure has been delayed to January next year. One more blow that was just unavoidable, according to the reports which came from the departments. That’s why I can understand them if they cannot take any more from this administration; and for not being able to muster enough strength to deliver the proverbial kicks of a dying horse. But we all wish they could, don’t we? Nothing dramatic is needed, only to come forward and be a witness. It would be so nice to have a ‘hero’ willing to help Morris now that he cannot speak for himself.
The comrades in second and third years are a different matter altogether. Their gravitation towards self-preservation is no less understandable than that of the final year students. However, the sophomores and third years are the only ones in a position to take a calculated risk. If they will not help Morris in death, no other comrade will – freshmen are too unaware and the seniors are too old, that’s to say, they are too unconcerned. The fact that anyone who was in the bus park that day fears to come forward and give an account of what happened shows that something is wrong somewhere; it should never be this difficult to speak the truth. In this case, I do not expect the courts will subpoena anyone as a witness. After all, only cases with sufficient evidence go to court. Seeing as the police are reaching out to us, it is doubtable that they have enough evidence to go by at the moment. Meaning that if none of the comrades who witnessed the accident will offer their testimony, the police might close the file on Morris’ death. However, this is only saddening speculation – comrades ought not to dishonor the memory of one of our own like that.
We can bury our heads in the sand and pretend everything is fine, but the truth shall remain that things are far from alright. How can anything be alright when comrades are too afraid to witness to something because it happened within campus? How can anything be alright when a fellow comrade lies six feet under, and we here do nothing to give him justice? Things are not alright, some of you will realize this the moment you stop pretending to be too busy preparing for exams. At that moment, you will look up and find everything that’s wrong staring you in the eyes. If you are convinced that things are alright, go tell Morris. Wait, he is dead! Yes, and only because something else was wrong. I have seen some changes here and there, so someone is trying to correct that. But was it the only thing that was dysfunctional? If so, why then are some students still afraid of coming forward now that it has been singled out for correction? Without exactly being a leadership expert, I know that leaders who base their influence on fear never go far. John C. Maxwell taught me that, but Adam Smith had said it many years earlier in connection to slavery. It is much better to win the admiration and respect of those being led so that they follow freely, willingly. What’s the difference? One group of followers would kill the leader if it had the chance, the other group would kill for the leader if they had to. As it turns out, quite naturally, the latter group is also the most productive. I live for the day that the administration will prove to us that they are the comrades’ friends, that the comrades have nothing to fear. But in case that day never comes, let me be on record as saying I was ready to be friends. Because friends work together for their own good, friends are not afraid of each other, and friends listen when you tell them that they are doing something wrongly.

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We know what started it. One of us died in a blatant display of recklessness. I was there and saw it all, or at least whatever much one can absorb with a thousand different things happening all at once around you. That was the night before the strike, the night that marked the last sunset Morris’ would ever see. The fact that it happened within the school compound, and was perpetrated by someone everyone was ever complaining about, was enough to incense any student. Some went to Power-house to pray for his soul, and perhaps their own peace of mind after that sudden loss. However, not everyone has got such a good grip on their temper. There were some I met who were visibly shaking with rage. I was torn between the two extremes myself. On one hand, mortality is a sad reality I have learnt to grudgingly accept. Therefore, I know when death comes there is nothing one can do to bring back the dead. But on the other hand, negligence leading to death is not to be condoned, not in law and certainly not in my book. I was righteously furious; I owed it to the memory of the late Morris.
When I arrived at the bus park at around 11 a.m., there was a crowd already formed, and growing by the minute. One could feel the palpitating angry mood of the crowd; you could almost cut the tension with a knife. Despite all that, I could feel that there was not going to be a demonstration, nor a riot, this was mourning – mourning for a comrade gone too soon, deprived of the chance to viva la buena vida (live the good life) of which we dream, which helps us all bear the pains of campus in stride. This was the beginning of a desperate attempt by the comrades to make sense of a senseless death, to try to understand how the place they were meant to be most safe suddenly became a bloodbath. Bloodbath? Yeah, students see things many times worse than they really are; any university administrator worth his pay should know that. Students never even really deny it, they live to give the administration a hard time. It’s a byproduct of all the pressure they are under, they feel much is expected of them and as a result also expect much from their administration.
The rift between the administration and the student body is too large. This will remain so as long as students think like students and the administration keeps deluding itself that it is the boss of them, simply because they are students. The administration needs to realize that there’s a requisite modicum of respect that students expect from the administrative personnel. In class, this expectation is reinforced when lecturers tell the business students, “The customer is king, and the king is always right. Above that, you want the king happy.” In that case, can someone hand me my crown too. The core business in a university is education, which makes students the number one customers, the kings. Somehow, everyone but the students keeps forgetting that, and it maddens us to no end. So until an arbiter is found, to make the different points of view understood across the board, the aims and pursuits of the students will remain irreconcilable with those of the administration. And all workers that are hired, with the exception of a few outliers, will always be having problems with the students. At the risk of repeating myself, I’ll state here that the bottom line is: students need and deserve respect, that’s what it takes to keep them happy.
The events that led to the showdown between the police and students were a result of a worker being too cavalier with the needs of the students. His arrogance ended with someone dead, and himself in custody. Who supervised this man? Did his supervisor ever take any action against earlier complaints? Were there no earlier complaints? Personally, I wouldn’t bet a dime of my HELB loan on that. I believe that before it pours, it rains. This can’t be his first incidence, unless he is absolutely unlucky. In which case, he would not have been lucky enough to land such a descent job, with nice pay, retirement benefits, annual leaves and all the usual perks. He should have realized how lucky he was and acted accordingly to preserve that luck. Unfortunately for Morris, and anyone else who may have suffered in Muiruri’s hands, he didn’t.
I don’t think that either the administration or the police who arrived at the scene understood the core driving force behind the students’ energy. Men express their emotion through aggression, that can mean violence if they know they can get away with it.  There was a variety of emotion on display that day. The students’ anger flew away with the stones, frustration was smashed upon fragile window panes, and pain was shed with the tears brought forth by the tear gas. The rioting was a result of their accelerated grief process. There was no bargaining and no depression, they simply accepted the death, and that provoked anger. Although it is a crude method of mourning, it was, nevertheless, effective. Most of the negative energy arising from the death was dispensed during the strike. Now what remains for the male students is moving on towards healing.
The female students, however, will need more time. Women handle emotions differently than men. They will need to talk amongst themselves as well as with their male friends before they can get over it. Those who were most affected may have to visit the student counsellor to work through their grief. The only thing I am sure of is that we will all heal, even though it may take time and leave scars. After all, a close encounter with death is bound to leave anyone a changed person. In the meantime, we should stand together to give each other strength.