“Si huyo mzae amebeat. Ati tudunge kama ma wives za ma bishops! (Hasn’t that old man lost it? How can we dress like bishops’ wives?) He should just retire and go home to look after his goats. NKT!”
A dressing down by the school head Okonkwo to teaching practice teachers on their dress code inspired the SMS, which Schola, a leading rumour-monger at our school, got hold of and forwarded to us. Okonkwo’s attempts to make them dress formally have met resistance.
At first, he asked Magarita, the Guidance and counselling HOD and Vasco Da Gama, the veteran history teacher, to advise the trainee teachers on how they are expected to dress. This was so because Vasco Da Gama, one of the best dressed teachers, has religiously clung to his three piece suit. Indeed, many first-time visitors to Meta Meta Secondary School usually mistake him for the principal.
“Have you come to teach in a learning institution or to work in a night club?” Okonkwo asked them when they reported. Brenda, who had come to teach business studies and computer, was in a top that began well below her slender neckline and shied off from covering her tummy, revealing a shiny belly ring on her umbilical cord. She also had a chain on her left foot, prompting Okonkwo to ask: “And why do you have chains on your legs?”
“Now look at you,” he said, turning to Alex who is teaching biology and chemistry, “How do you expect the boys to be well-groomed when you have a crew cut and have even dyed your hair?
“And is that a pair of trousers or are you wearing bamboo pipes?” he asked another.
The trainee teacher in question had put on such a tight pair of trousers that it was indeed a miracle he had managed to squeeze himself into it.
The trousers were short and did not reach the ankles. He had no pair of socks to go with the rubber shoes. “You could easily be mistaken for a scare crow,” the principal fumed. He then instructed them to go back and change. When they came back, there wasn’t much difference.
The teaching practice teachers have been an instant hit with the students. Vasco Da Gama was amused when he found a sketch of Brenda with an exaggerated bust and posterior in 3G. Below it was the caption: “Tunakula kwa macho tu!” Almost all the boys have ‘piped’ their trousers, while the girls have slimmed and shortened their skirts.
“Tumechoka kuvaa magunia (We are tired of wearing sacks),” one told Magarita when she sought to know why she had ‘interfered’ with her skirt. During a principal’s ‘baraza’ with the students, Cate, the outgoing students’ council president, proposed that ties be done away with, since they did not contribute to learning. “Billionaires like Zuckerberg and Richard Branson do not wear ties!” shouted a boy.
In the staffroom, the T.P. teachers spend a lot of time on YouTube and their talk oscillates around data bundles and the latest movies.
Aenea’s attempt to join in the conversation with Shaolin and Clint Eastwood movies were met with amused expressions. Their ability to multi-task is amazing.
With headphones on, they watch movies, chat on WhatsApp or Facebook and make lesson plans. In a staff meeting, Alex suggested that the school should invest in a broadband Wi-Fi, since the one we had was too slow for streaming movies. “There is a lot of buffering,” he observed, prompting Okonkwo to ask what he meant by buffer zones!