SCHOOL MEMORIES: Of initiation night in Keino House

If, like me, you had a string of bad luck following you around, you were assigned to Keino House. Among other things, Keino had a reputation for housing girls with extra estrogen. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that the house was named after a Kenyan Olympic medalist.

If, like me, you had a string of bad luck following you around, you were assigned to Keino House. 

Among other things, Keino had a reputation for housing girls with extra estrogen. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that the house was named after a Kenyan Olympic medalist. Names have a tendency to become prophetic.

This is not to say that the girls of Keino House had ever come close to winning any sports-related medals. The only thing that the extra dose of estrogen did was driving them to insanity. They were fired up to do many things.

The wrong things. Woe unto you if you crossed their path.

On your first night, they would summon you to the very last cubicle for what they called initiation. As you walked there, your footsteps would be accompanied by a harmonious tune. Literally translated, the song said, “Potatoes in the corridor.” S1s were the potatoes.

And for the next few weeks, or until people ran broke and therefore were no longer glutted with energy from junk food, your presence was announced everywhere.

They sang “Potato in thebathroom.” “Potato in the Dining hall.”You’d try without succeeding to walk on a pace different from the one of the song.

Anyway, back to initiation night. Once you arrived in the last cubicle, they would begin to taunt you and to question you until you became so exhausted that you were bound to falter. It’s in such moments of exhaustion that people said words which later became their permanent nicknames.

One of the girls was asked was asked to read the word exaggerated and having never encountered it before, she read it as ex-a-ghee-rat-ed. I now wouldn’t recall the girl’s real name if my life depended on it.

Still, Exa’s nickname wasn’t as bad as the one of the girl who, midway through her story, temporarily forgot the English word for human waste and said the word in a heavily accented local language. After bouts of laughter, she was baptized accordingly. In the history of terrible nicknames none held a candle to hers.

During the initiation, you were also asked to denounce boys unless they were studying in the boyfriend school.

You had to put your right hand over your chest and then proclaim it in a ridiculous song which had, by the flow of the lyrics, had undoubtedly been written by a group of juvenile delinquents.

After the proclamation, you were baptized by way of pouring water a bucket of water over your head. You were supposed to go forth and sin not. But soon enough, you would find yourself in a very difficult position.

For all their wit and sophistication, boys from the boyfriend school were terribly unappealing.

It was hard to appreciate a boy’s clever humor and the knee-weakening excellent use of the queen’s language without thinking of how after you had met the boy, you couldn’t help but notice his uncanny resemblance to Gollum from Lord of the Rings.

 

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