In January 1998 I was informed by my mother that I would be joining a boarding school. I was in Standard 5. It’s not like I had a choice; I was just told to prepare myself to go to a different school. At that particular moment I was to be seen and not to be heard so I didn’t dare lift a finger in protest. ‘What about my friends? Would I still be the fastest runner in my new class?’ – a title that I had earned through consistent practice. I however, sat on that throne for only a term and before I knew it I was out to an unknown territory. I embraced the reality of the move with grace, and enjoyed the brief delight of new school uniform and books temporarily taking off my mind from the unfortunate change.
Even as my mother kissed me on my forehead and promised me it would be ok, I didn’t cry. I watched her and my dad drive out of the school compound. It was a Saturday afternoon so I had enough time to cushion myself from the immediate shock of class. The new kids were super friendly; I remember them fighting to have my attention. One particular kid asked me if I ate sausage and though I didn’t understand why then I just said yes. He instantly lost interest in me. That night after what was Saturday Entertainment we retired to the dorms and one word filled the air – ‘SUNDAY SAUSAGE’. After making inquiries, I finally served my mounting thirst to discover that it all came from the fact that at school, they only served sausages once a week.
Sunday morning breakfast at the dinning hall was like the New York stock exchange. Since we were not allowed any money or snacks in school sausage was the main currency of transaction. Debts were all paid in form of sausages. If you did homework for someone you were paid in form of a sausage. If a prefect or civilian saw you do something wrong the price for not telling was a sausage. If you were hitting on a girl – you gave her your sausage (no pun intended). We also had the ‘chamas’, a merry-go-round sausage system forcing everyone on the table to invest their sausages into the hands of one student each week. This would happen with the understanding that when it was your turn, you would also be the recipient of the entire table’s sausage allowance. We gave up weekly pleasures with the assurance that when it was your turn, you would eat like a sausage king! There were also isolated incidents of stealing as well as controversial bouts of people dropping out after they had their turn so your eyes had to be on your plate the entire time.
Because the demand was much higher than the supply it was perfect for this economy to thrive. It was impossible not to be caught up in the web. It took me a few weeks to get in line with what was economic natural selection. I was often rendered sausage-less but once I got my footing I became so sausage wealthy I turned into a shylock, even reducing lending to half a sausage—business was booming! I linked up with a couple of equally devious kids and we started our own aristocratic gang of the beef wealth. It got so bad we also started using force on pupils owing us. The force was implemented by a prefect who was on our side and we paid him in … wait for it… sausage!!!!!!
Things were going great until one fine Sunday at breakfast when the revolution took place. I was seven sausages deep on my plate and my mini concubines were laughing as loudly as their sausage allowance. A bunch of younger boys walked up to me and demanded their sausages back. It was the revenge of the nerds. Anybody who knows me well knows I have zero fighting skills so it was inevitable that I lost miserably. I was rendered powerless and sausage-less. The unity of the oppressed triumphed across all tables dethroning all nobles. The power went back to the people.
But why am I telling you this beefy tale? Have you ever seen the word sausage this many times on text? I feel like this reflective of our beloved country. We seem so shocked when watching stories of corruption in government yet we have it deeply engrained in our moral fabric from as early as primary school. When we talk about impunity we need to tackle it from when the older kids just jump the line and take all the food; how prefects eat extra chapatis while the younger kids eat none not forgetting all the girls that let you kiss them when you gave them sausage (pun intended). If you can take other kids stuff and thump your chest for being untouchable then one day you will grab land or steal public funds and not feel shit! The haves end up having it all and the have nots – just as the sausage economy are one step closer to the edge by the day. What has always been a simmering pressure pot will one day explode and Kibera will march to Karen.