I joined the University of Nairobi in 1981 to study medicine. In my second year, I was arrested in a police swoop for participating in the 1982 abortive coup and consequently discontinued for 14 months. Many other students, who may be uncomfortable if I mention their names, suffered the same fate.
The arrest of The East Africa Standard newspaper editor, one George Githii, prompted me to join the protest against vicitmisation of people under the guise of dealing with the coup plotters and sympathisers.
He had been arrested and detained without trial by the Kanu regime. We could not just sit and watch as the nation’s elites were wrongfully being accused and imprisoned. Life in uni wasn’t as hard as in high school. In fact, I was a day-scholar at Musingu High School and the only student allowed to attend class barefoot because my parents couldn’t afford a pair of shoes for me.
We were given a Sh1,500 stipend, which quite a lot then. Life as such was relatively easier, and I could even afford to marry while in second year. However, my marriage nearly collapsed, since girls would hang around me because I was a politician and the medical school students’ representative. Well, taking a tough course was probably also an attraction.
I nonetheless stuck to my girl who is today my wife. At the time, she had dropped out in form two because of me. I however made sure she went back to class and is currently working at a local university.
Joining the campus choir or Christian Union was a no-no for politicians like us. Though I was in students politics, I never aspired for major posts like that of the secretary general or chairman of the students university governing body. Back then, we were revered in the nation as students, and whenever we spoke, every government spy paid attention.
We had demonstrations, but never robbed motorists or harassed innocent people. Our demonstrations were about important national issues, not petty matters.
Bonny Khalwale graduated with a degree in Medicine from UoN class of 1981.