It was hard to believe that only a few hours before, I had been chanting confidently and aggressively, about the need for a new Mathematics teacher. I had been screaming so loud and so hard that my voice was now hoarse. I had been powered by the crowd. It was for a general cause but the cause was very personal to me.
I hated Mr. Tinakubuza utterly. If we had been peers, and if we hadn’t been in a school where spitting was considered uncouth, and therefore frowned up on, I would have spat every time I saw him.
I saw no use in learning his real name. Tinakubuza was a nickname, a direct translation for “I didn’t ask you.” He used the phrase quite often. Too often. I had hated him since the day he saw me peacefully drifting off to dreamland during his boring lesson and he interrupted me ever so rudely and embarrassingly. “You only came here to eat posho and to grow fat,” he had said to me. The whole class had laughed at me.
I had declared war on him in my mind since that day. I decided I would stay awake in his class but just to spite him, I wouldn’t listen to him. I would just sit there and glare. I would sit and wish him all sorts of bad things in my mind, all bad things except death.
His death would have been an inconvenience to me. I wanted him to stay alive because by sheer luck or through hard work, one day I would get rich. And on that day, I would come back to the school, distributing money to everyone and if he showed up, I would just make a jeering sound, laugh in his face and pass him by.
My impending success wasn’t enough to contain all the hatred I had in my mind. Yes, yes, I hate with my mind. I don’t know why people use “with all my heart” when describing emotions and yet it’s the mind that does all the work. Come on, people!
Anyway, like I said, my impending success wasn’t enough. So I threw banana peelings in the corridor but he didn’t slip and fall. Someone else did. I put glue on the classroom door but he didn’t touch it. I got my classmates to write him letters of all sorts from death threats to insults but he stayed, I tried and I tried and I tried but I failed.
I and the others who hated him decided it was time for him to go. So we got the whole class to sit outside holding signs, chanting phrases. “Tinakubuza has to go!” we shouted over and over. The whole school came to see. It was glorious. Martin Lutherking would have been proud (or not, considering the cause.)
In circumstances like this, they would call the entire class and teacher after teacher, they would condemn our actions. But not that day. They called us one by one, to the disciplinary committee. And we had two choices; to either write down the name of the ‘vision bearer’ or face expulsion.
My name was written on every piece of paper. And as I sat in front of the disciplinary committe, pleading with my bladder to be strong, I leant my lesson. That you can trust the power of the crowd as long it’s still all fun and games. When danger comes, you will be alone.