Form One Entrants

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Form One entrants and monolisation

***** Location: Kenya
***** Season: Hot dry season
***** Category: Humanity


The Kenyan school year starts in January. New students entering Form One of secondary school (usually aged 14 or over), register in January and start classes at the beginning of February.

This is a very big step for a Kenyan student. Form One entry, in modern Kenya, functions as the equivalent of circumcision, i.e. entry into adulthood. People may or may not practice circumcision or other rites of passage -- either way, initial research has found that the transition between primary school and secondary school has come to resemble these older practices. This is expressed by massive parties (so-called “bashes”) held by the youth, largely without adult supervision, as well as by the short-term victimisation (so-called “monolisation”) of the new Form One students by their predecessors. Sometimes, things can go wrong (see article below).

The end of primary school is achieved by a national examination, the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE). Only about 50 percent of students passing this examination find places in secondary schools -- the other 50 percent dropping out either because they have not achieved the necessary points for the limited number of places, or because they cannot raise the necessary fees.

While primary education (eight years, from age 6 to age 14 or over) is now free of charge in Kenya, secondary education is subsidised but fee-paying. Many bright students, who cannot find a scholarship or a sponsor, drop out at this stage, even though they might have had the points to enter a recognised secondary school.

Bahati High School, in Kayole, Nairobi, being run by volunteers, is able to provide education at low cost, and can therefore offer places to the children of the community without being selective as regards points. This school started the Bamboochas Haiku Poetry Club at the start of 2006. Now, one year later, is the first time that the Bamboochas have welcomed new Form One entrants.

This coincides with the exciting moment when the school is building a corrugated iron laboratory as its contribution to recognition as an exam centre for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) from the end of 2007.

Secondary school involves many changes for the new entrants. The style of the uniform changes (dresses are replaced by skirts, shorts by trousers, checked cloth is out while plain colours are in, both girls and boys wear ties), many new subjects appear (history, geography, the sciences), English becomes the language of instruction for all, and this may be the first time that the students meet classmates from other parts of the country, speaking a different mother tongue.

All the haiku collected below were written by the Form One entrants themselves -- brand new haijin. They convey the atmosphere so well -- please enjoy reading their work!

Bahati High School

Text and photo : © Isabelle Prondzynski


School where boys have to be 'men'
Daily Nation, 15 February 2007

The excitement that comes with joining Form One was evident on the faces of the young students as they were guided by their parents through the gates of Kiriani Boys Secondary School in Meru South District last week. They were excited to be joining secondary school and many of the parents had toiled hard to meet the many expenses that come with sending children to high school.

The usual words of advise for the students to take their studies seriously could be heard as the parents bid their children goodbye and left them behind.

But 25 of the parents could not believe their eyes when three days later, their children arrived home, carrying all their belongings and a letter from the principal, Mr Ngaruthi Kithinji, saying they could not be allowed in the school because they were not circumcised. They were lost for words.

Even if they were to take their sons to be circumcised, it would take no less than a month for them to heal enough to resume studies. Meanwhile, other students would be going on with learning.

But Mr Kithinji said the presence of the uncircumcised boys in the school could lead to unrest. "There was a lot of screaming and disturbances when your son was discovered to be the way he is. Just like you cannot keep your elder son who is uncircumcised in the same room with your younger son, this also applies in the dorms," Mr Kithinji said. He told the parents of the affected children to have them circumcised in two weeks and take them back to school when they get well.

The parents are now appealing to the Government to intervene.

Trouble started on their first night in school. The older boys ordered the newcomers to strip naked so that they could be inspected. Those who were not circumcised spent the whole night going through all manner of torture and insults. Says one of the boys: "The first night was very bad. We were never given a chance to rest or sleep even after the long journey. They started shouting and asking us silly questions like are you a man or a woman?"

The following day, they reported the matter to the principal, who instead of assisting them, sent them home.

The Meru South district commissioner, Mr William Kiprono, ordered the immediate reinstatement of the students, saying it was wrong to take such a discriminative action. "Circumcision is a cultural thing not accepted in some societies. It's wrong to chase students from a public school because it is not government policy," said Mr Kiprono, while apologising to the students and their parents. "The bullies were the ones to be sent off and not the other way round," he said.

But even as Education minister George Saitoti was condemning the action by the headteacher, the students demonstrated in his support yesterday afternoon.
... //www.nationmedia.com/

Worldwide use

Things found on the way


By Patrick Wafula
Patron of the Bamboocha Haiku Club, Bahati High School

The New Bamboochas, who number about 40, have been taking their first lesson in haiku this week. First, it was Form One West, then Form One East. On Ash Wednesday (21 February 2007), I spent the lunch hour with Form One West, giving them their first haiku lesson. It was a great joy and experience. We wrote the first haiku together as a class; the rest were written individually.

Form One East took their lesson three days later. The new haijin have been writing about the new school year and their experiences in Bahati High School. They are such a bundle of joy! Some of their experiences are hilarious, others are pitious, but each of these experiences are true.

Fasting and Prayer day (Wednesday 21/02/07)

The Form One West had their first prayer and fasting experience and they wrote about it in their very first haiku the next day :

Mr. Wafula
taking photos of
the new lab

in the school kitchen --
Sharon happily biting
a huge chapati

from the kitchen,
delicious scent of chapati --
a rumbling stomach

a student
giving a testimony...
hymns are sung

Mr. Wafula
praying for sponsorships...
moment of silence

Mr. Wafula
taking photos --
students praying

~ Class

Patrick Wafula Sensei with his camera
Photo (c) Isabelle Prondzynski

in the kitchen --
people eat chapati
revenging for Wed

~ Timothy Wambugu

(On Thursday, students were eating chapati to compensate for what they missed to eat the previous day during the fasting and prayer)

first year in Bahati
prayers and fasting --
my grumbling stomach

~ Josephat Mwangi

students making noise --
their cries as Mr. Macharia
beats them

students dozing
during History lesson --
the teacher's shouts

~ Steven Nzomo

a teacher with a sad face
going back to the staffroom...
what stupid students

~ Shadrack Masai Mwengi

in the sitting room --
we happily take breakfast
with my family

~ Mercy Karanin

Mr. Ogembo writing
on the blackboard --
students laughing

last lesson to lunch...
bored students wait to go
for lunch

students laugh
as Mr. Ogembo says gaii...
geography lesson

~ Samuel Ndung'u

Mr. Macharia in class...
students sleeping on the desk
and they get strokes

~ Gerald Kariuki

students rejoice
around the new laboratory --
praise for Isabelle

~ Caren Cheptoo

students laugh
and cheer up --
last lesson to break

~ Vivian Adhiambo

in class
Beatrice cries like a baby --
corporal punishment

~ Jonah Kamande

at the school kitchen
people carry plates and spoons --
chapati in hand

at home --
my brother happily runs
to me for a kiss

at the shop --
a long queue of people
waiting to buy goods

everybody quietly settled,
writing and reading stories --
library lesson

~ Anne Wairimu

Constructing the new laboratory
Photo (c) Patrick Wafula


new different
school rules…
Discipline Prefects

smell of my
new school ID…
smell of sewage

~ Christine Minae

first time
to wear trousers…
my new uniform

in the school kitchen,
big transparent chapatis…
smell of food

~ Peter Mwangi

new school lab --
teacher lights the Bunsen burner,
for students doing experiments

many students
of different tribes --
Bahati High School

many rules to keep --
if you break one,

~ Dorothy Nthenya

first day
in Bahati High School --
different daily menu

and making new friends…
first day in Bahati

~ Brian Mwangi

school kitchen --
much tasteless

first day in Bahati --
smell of new

first time
to wear a tie --
Bahati High

~ Rose Mwikali

many tribes of students --
my first day in
Bahati High School

first time to
own school ID --
Bahati High school

first time
to meet Discipline Prefects …
Bahati High School

in the lab,
Rose holding a gas jar …
first Chemistry Lesson

~ Eunice Mwema

first time in school kitchen --
many students enjoying
different menu

first day in Bahati --
many new classrooms
with different arrangements

first day in Bahati --
students in the lab,
smell of chemicals

~ Truphosah .I. Osendi

many different subjects…
first time in Bahati
High School

many new students
confused like lost
sheep in a forest

greedy Form Four
students in the kitchen --
first day in High School

~ Michael Bwoga

confused like a maggot
in a demolished toilet --
first day in High School

~ Sheillah Shikawa

many tribes of students --
communication problems
between Luo, Kikuyu, Kamba and Luhya

~ Rhodah Ndindah

smell of my
new uniforms --
first day in Form One

first day
in High School --
meeting different tribes

in Bahati School,
talking nicely to students --
Discipline Prefects

seventh week
in Bahati School --
new lab built

first time
to carry student ID --
Bahati School

~ Maxiwell Omondi

black water
flowing down along Soweto --
smell of sewage

many new faces,
different languages --
first time at Bahati

many new
scaring subjects --
biology, geography

~ Catherine Wanjiku

hardworking teachers,
teaching all the subjects --
students nodding

~ Jane Mumbua

students struggle
to keep school rules --
speaking English all the time

~ Nelius Muthoni

time keeper
ringing the bell --
lesson after lesson

~ Alice Wambui

ndengu and chapati,
ndengu and chapati for lunch --
rumble of my stomach

first time
to see black water --
sewage river

~ Patrick

time keeper
ringing the bell --
change of lessons

in our class,
calculations --
first Maths lesson

first time to see
scientific calculator --
first Math lesson

Discipline Prefects
in Bahati School --
many rules to keep

~ George Onyango

James holding
a ruled exercise book --
second Math lesson

~ Ashitwa Douglas

in Bahati School,
Discipline Prefects --

new black
and blue uniforms --
rule of smartness

different daily menu --
day after day
in the kitchen

first day in
Bahati High School --
miss my primary friends

new school,
new faces --
curious feelings

~ Alice Nyambura

Fasting and praying -- the Bahati students
Photo (c) Patrick Wafula

cooks serving
too little food --
sulky faces

first day
in High School --
equipped lab

many students
with different talents --
karate team

~ Raphael

on the assembly
the school is attentive --
raising the flag

in the kitchen --
students queue at the door
waiting to be served

ringing of the bell
by the time keeper…
change of lessons

~ Risper

black skirt blue blouse
blue tie black shoes white socks --
my new uniforms

~ Joyce Atolwa

first time
to learn Biology --
smell of my new uniform

smell of new books --
rules to follow
and keep

~ Caroline Ndegwa

hardworking teachers
of Bahati High School—
no idle lesson

new classroom
arrangements --
first day in Bahati

~ Lagat Amos

in the school office --
Mr. Wafula give us five five
for noise-making

Kamba, Luo, Luhya
and Kikuyu all meet --
Bahati School

~ George Ngamau

first time
to see Luhyas --
Bahati School

in school kitchen --
the chef gives me soup
without chapati

first time
to see a microscope --
school lab

senior students
steal form one books --

~ Steven Nzomo

first time to see
many discipline prefects --
Bahati school

~ Mary Wangari

many students
with different talents --
the volleyball team

so many rules
to remember and keep --

~ Cynthia Adhiambo

girls wearing skirts
and boys wearing trousers --
new uniforms

~ Nancy Kamene

school kitchen --
meat stew tasting
delicious in my mouth

~ Moses Makule

many students
with different talents --
the football team

~ Muhia

in the lab
our teacher mixing chemicals --
first chem. practical

school kitchen,
watery rice with no fat --
rumble of my stomach

~ Joseph Mumo

the good feel and smell
of my new student ID --
first year in Bahati

~ Anonymous

first time to cross
the sewage river by bridge --
way to Bahati High

rice and cabbage
rice and cabbage for lunch…
rumble of my stomach

~ Grace Ruguru

second day --
welcomed with strokes (from Mr. Wafula)
for noise-making

new subjects,
harsh teachers,
and kind students

in the kitchen—
tasteless rice without
fat and spoon

~ Serah Wanjiku

first time
to join a drama club --
Bahati High

first time
to have school ID --
Bahati school

first time to wear
a skirt, blouse and tie --
Bahati uniform

~ Serah Mbuthi

bad smell of sewage,
but Christian students --
first day in Bahati High

smell of new books,
discipline prefects
and hardworking teachers

many different rules to keep --
different toilets,
different daily menu

~ Rachael Wangechi

many surprising…
subjects keep me reading
all the time

first time to mix
with students of many tribes --
learning in Bahati

first time
to be photographed --
school ID

~ Winnie Wairimu

Kamau holding
a test tube --
new laboratory

~ Robert Foro

Related words

***** Start of School Year, School Year starts (Kenya)

***** School exams KCSE / KCPE (Kenya)

***** Ash Wednesday


1 comment:

Gabi Greve said...

confused like a maggot
in a demolished toilet --
first day in High School

~ Sheillah Shikawa

... ... ...

Sheillah's haiku is simply wonderful. I find it memorable.

R.K.Singh, WHCindia