10 May Childhood spirits that make destiny – the tale of five geniuses and one clown
By William Dekker
About a decade and a half ago, Roy, Habakkuk, Bildad, Edwin, Sharon, and I (five geniuses and one clown) were only one step away from sitting our national KCPE exam. In case you are wondering, I was the clown – a clown trying so hard to fit into the civilization that was St. Francis of Assisi Academy. Perhaps, the mere fact that my head comes with its own share of disproportionate size and weight was the only qualification that earned me the role of a school HEAD boy as at then. While this confused the pupils, it disorganised me the more. So cultured was the school and its pupils that we nicknamed it ‘Assisi campus’ – long live Assisi!
Habakkuk, or ‘Lar-ry’ as the girls would call him in soft-pitched tuneful voices, was the school’s number one weirdo. Besides the fact that he would use half a roll of tissue paper in one toilet visit (a habit that I can liberally confirm hasn’t died), the guy would hunt for frogs in the compound and dissect them while laughing and crying at the same frequency. While everyone else was forced to go to church on Sundays (what do you expect when a school is named after the prayerful Saint Francis of Assisi), Larry would hide in the lavatories with a full roll of tissue paper, only to remain in the compound fetching frogs and toads from the water-borehole stationed near the boys’ dormitory. On returning from church, we would be greeted by a carpet of seven ‘naked’ skinned amphibians, with no internal body organs, each ‘crucified’ to the ground, while some placed on the stairs path to the girl’s dormitory. Again, the terrified girls would scream ‘Larrr-ry’ and our peculiar Habakkuk would laugh and cry in his alternator rhythm.
Long story short, Habakkuk the frog dissector is today a surgeon at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, and he is good at it! I hear they refer to him as the ‘suture expert’! The guy can stitch patient wounds amid total darkness!
Next is Roy – we referred to him as Allela Chavo. Even though he used to suckle his thumb like an innocent tot, the guy had a gobsmacking sense of judgment. His mathematical, scientific, and logical reasoning was top-notch! And so, we consulted him more than the books and the teachers combined. After all, Roy was the BOOK! Today, Roy, an award-winning Software Engineer is Europe, Middle East and Africa Technical Expert for Computer Vision tools and AI software at Intel (Intel is that thing you see on your computer that says: ‘INTEL INSIDE’. Now you can confidently say – ROY INSIDE). Guess what, they consult him on matters Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Deep Thought – concepts that you will only get to hear about in the year 2035 (that is if you haven’t already). I remember President Uhuru Kenyatta, in his 2019 state of the nation address at the Parliament recognized Roy Allela among other Kenyans like Peter Tabichi and Eliud Kipchoge for their accomplishments. I mean the guy invented hand gloves that translate sign language to speech – who does that???
Bildad! Oh, my Bildad. As school ‘boarders’, we spent on the same dormitory, on the same double-decker bed – his being the lower deck, while I on the top one (obviously he was the ninja, so I had to fly all the way up without touching his bed – a bed that was never tucked all year round). Bildad was JaNarobi, and so he knew a concept or two about Ogopa DJs, Juacali and sheng (I was there learning a couple of phrases from him – like maze and budaa acha ufala!). His uncle was a member of parliament – what could be cooler than that? During prep-time, we studied far much less than we created musical beats. He would rap and sing at the same time– a perfect competition for Nyashinki and Khaligraph Jones – if only we could travel back in time. Fast forward, Bildad is today a music producer, the best you’d get in the market.
Just because of space, I will rush through the rest; Edwin, Sharon, and I (maybe). Edwin was a thrifty spender; whether he had money or not, was a discussion out of bounds. To get a coin out of him, you’d have to employ the Explicit Formula for the Fibonacci Sequence (I just made that up ?). And when he’d finally agree to lend you money, he’d give the higher sum – everything you asked, plus one. Then, with a ton of wisdom, he’d advise you how best to spend your money – the money he just gave you…haha! Today, Edwin is an Investments and Wealth Advisor, and he has the money! Corporates come to him, farmers come to him, eeeeeveryone! He gives money along with a piece of advice on how to spend it. After all, you must return it with some sizeable profit.
Sharon – the head girl. The crush I wrote letters to but never sent. After all, do you know the amount of chaos it would cause if the teachers discovered the head boy was hitting on the head girl? Viboko my friend! Anyway, Sharon was the only lady who played football with the boys. She was soft and as tough as it comes. Some good English and loud laughs in the game. Rumours had it that she carried football air pump in her school bag during exams and that she trained karate, kung fu and taekwondo during December holidays. We feared her! Fast forward, she is the best in the realm of sports consulting; a Sports Radio Presenter at Capital FM, Sports Business Columnist at Nation Media Group and Sports Business TV Host at Metropol TV Kenya. In 2019, she single-handedly brought to Africa and Kenya, the NBA top executives, including Maasai Ujiri. She also managed the Rift Valley Marathon 2017 and 2018 editions among other cool sporting events.
On my end, I did nothing profound other than writing love letters in primary school. Not my own letters though. I wrote for the others. At some point I was the linguistic pillar of 13 simultaneous relationships – some overlapping each other…haha – you know how it goes! And there I was soothing their souls with words; initiating and ending relationships as prescribed by their longing. I discovered that communication – good communication – is a connection driver between humans and humans, and humans and their environment. Today I am just that communication guy, and this narration is proof that whatsoever you fervently commit to as a child is your ideal sphere of excellence. Your childhood fervency may have been your destiny. All the other things we do are merely for money and societal acceptance. So, when you feel everything is falling apart, look to your childhood to find a new purpose in life. And in the experiences of your child, therein lies their future.
William Dekker is a Strategic Communication specialist. Emailfirstname.lastname@example.org