Ghosts of systemic discrimination in rural public schools in Kenya have started to emerge, and a huge storm is brewing. Kenyans from rural areas who attended rural schools are for the first time speaking about the discrimination they faced in the hands of their urban counterparts who invaded their rural schools.
In detailed accounts that make colonization look like child play, tales of terror, horror and school capture by ‘urban immigrants’ have been brought to light with victims suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to date. One victim who has managed to move up the class ladder and settle in Kileleshwa still cringes at the mention of ‘city dwellers’ or ‘urban residents,’ due to the fear that those people brought upon him in high school.
Speaking to PostaMate, many ‘ruralites’ opened up about how their dignity was dismantled, their confidence extinguished and sense of worth annihilated when they met those kids from the city in high school.
“We were rural kids and we went to rural schools. That does not need an explanation. But why would urban kids leave their urban schools to come to our rural schools and torment us with their superior sense of fashion, masterly of sheng, an insider understanding of the entertainment industry and bring with them all the gadgets that we only saw in DJ Afro Movies? Did we deserve this?”
Another victim recalled of how they were made to love the wrong Nairobi. “Some of them made us believe that Githurai Kimbo was the New Runda, and we believed them because the Atlas did not give us enough details to enable us refute the claim. We spent our teen years dreaming of moving to Githurai and this is why we have never made it to Runda. It’s absurd!”
While most of the discrimination was not endorsed by school administration, teachers helped perpetuate that the Nairobians were superior to local boys by some of the racist decisions they made. “Why did the entertainment captain have to be a rich kid from the city? Why were the music and drama festivals dominated by people who did not have mother tongue influence in their speech? Was it an accident or design?”
Unfortunately, even what could have worked to the advantages of ‘shaggz guys’ never helped. “They had the shoes, but we had the brains. Unfortunately, they corrupted the system to the point that only shoes mattered and if you did not have the right shoes, you were damned. Even the uniform which was meant to make us equal was not enough because their uniform was made of superior material. It was a form of urban witchcraft.”
Mental Health Issue
A psychiatrist at the Mathari Teaching and referral Hospital said that most of his patient have a history of having made contact with students from the city while in high school. “It is one of the least talked about systems of social discrimination but it has been with others since the beginning or urbanization and as the rural – urban divide widens, children from rural backgrounds continue to suffer immensely at the hands of their urban counterparts. We need to say all backgrounds matter.”
Some Kenyan men also went ahead to demand an apology from girls’ schools which spoke fluent English with an accent which by then it was believed was the official queens English. “We would never believe that we would end up dating them in campus. In high school, they spoke only in English and we only understood written English, not spoken one. I am happy that campus turned the table.”
Rural Lives Matter
Using the hashtag #RuralLivesMatter, rural Kenyans are now asking the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission to come up with a way of dealing with this historical injustice before the anger can reach the boiling point.
Others who have succeeded in life think it is not necessary and the rural kids need to shed off this slavery mentality. “See their life now. Are we not all sharing the same Twitter and some of us are even firing better memes?” said one man from a bedsitter in Githurai.