A teenager in a small part of the world scores a good grade in his final high school examinations giving him a direct entry into the gates of higher learning. A goat is slaughtered and blood is spilled for the ancestors to drink as a thank you note, chicken is roasted and fish is deep fried and a huge gathering enjoys a sumptuous meal to celebrate the performance of their son. A few months later resources are pooled together and a big deposit is made to a premium university’s account number. Without any further ado, the young man is admitted to the gates of higher learning and the dad beats his chest profoundly feeling proud, while the mother wears her kitenge to her chama every Friday evening and boasts of his intellectual son doing a BA.

Once admitted the young man forgets his destination and his purpose, he suddenly forgets where he came from and for a very long moment is blinded by the strides his parents have made in life, their small investments and hence starts feeling himself like king Kunta while in school. He often brags of how loaded his folks are and so he spends a lot on liquor, women and other nonsense. As days quickly drift by his life becomes like a play and to the right minded students around him, all they see and say is a young man who’s every day mission since he got to campus was to throw away his life, self – destructing.


15-May-09 addiction photo-illustration. Photo by Keith Beaty.

All the world’s a stage, and all men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts – William Shakespear, in his book “As you like it.” The young man who now is in his earliest twenties faces a tough time in his early phase in campus because of his routine drug abuse ways and his dishonorable lifestyle. His exit nears every day. At some point he gets very sick – thank God it’s not HIV, he therefore misses classes for three consecutive weeks. His GPA hits the rock bottom but because he has never been a go getter or a workhorse since he joined campus he lets the grades take a vacation there at the bottom. The registrar catches sight of his weak grades and puts him on probation just like the rest of the under performers.

That doesn’t worry him, what does however is the fact that he is running out of money to buy drugs since his parents have somehow noticed changes in their son’s behavior and have decided to cut short his allowances. Poor guy, buying booze and weed becomes a pipe dream that he seem not to achieve. Women have now become the last thing he thinks about because the addiction now is real, his body runs on vodka and smoke and without that he is a dead man. The way his demeanor changes is farfetched, his attire now start fading because he doesn’t have a variety of them since he sold some to at least be able to chew miraa or jaba and big G.

Then one day he smokes weed outside campus with his cronies and walks to the school premises like a charged rhino. At the gate, the Lavington security try to stop him since the university besides being a Christian university is a drug free zone but he pokes one of the guard’s eye and almost breaks the hand of the other. They therefore arrest him after getting reinforcement from their friends and take him to the senate. There, they learn that his grades too are swimming in the deep end and without mercy he is suspended for one academic year and off he hauls home. At home, the mother sobs uncontrollably while the dad sits at his main chair in the living room, fingers crossed, wondering where the rain started beating their son.

Because mothers are always seraphs she takes her son back to school after two weeks at home, pleads with the university senate to cancel the suspension and let her son study since he had learnt his lesson. She whimpers, prays and finally the old men with round stomachs and thick glasses and women with impish looks in the senate room give him amnesty and exonerate all ‘charges’ against him, giving him a second chance to start his life afresh and pull his grades up.


Once the mother and son step outside the senate room, the son breaks bad again and starts harassing the mom who minutes ago was his savior. This time he demands more pocket money and an off campus room where there is more ‘privacy’ and comfort. The mom whose eyes are still red and swollen tries to assure him the off campus room issue will be sorted out the next semester in the meantime he should concentrate on his grades. But the boy growls, complains and throws his hands in the air and without a goodbye he walks away from his mom.

After a week or so when everyone thought they’ve seen enough of him things takes a very ugly turn and this time for sure the young man loses his mind. Luckily, his insanity does not involve shouting and collecting litter. He just walks around in silence, oblivious of the rest of the world around him, all his friends become strangers and he looks at people weirdly. He forgets to change his clothes and he becomes dirty like any other mad man, his kinky hair turns brown and his dark skin turns a tone darker. Poor boy, he becomes a wanderer because of his own choices and actions.

At home while the parents think that the storm is over and their son is spending his days in the library working to improve his GPA the boy has actually forgotten his way to class. He lingers and struts outside the school premises like the guy from the bible who was cursed to globe trot. The schools takes note of his behavior and puts him through counselling but unfortunately that doesn’t help. One day he calls it quits and carries his bags home where he is certain that he won’t lack money for drugs, never to be seen again in the gates of higher learning. And that’s how the boy threw his life away and never got his degree.

by Joseph Nduti


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