When, two weeks ago, Bensouda came back to school, thwarting my plans to drive the school in a new direction, I was not very worried. Those who know Bensouda know that her and coming to school regularly do not belong to the same WhatsApp group. I was sure that Bensouda would be around for just two days and be gone.
After that Wednesday when she made lots of noise, she was the first to arrive in school the next day and, for the first time, she supervised the morning menial work.
“You are very lucky I am busy with other TSC responsibilities and can’t be here every morning,” she would later tell us. “I was shocked in the morning to see how low our cleanliness standards have sunk! You teachers do not don’t show students how to clean?”
No one answered her.
She also arrived in school first the next day and worked with the girls to clean the staffroom and her office. That day, I must admit, the staffroom was really clean, and there was no dust on our chairs. But such thorough cleaning, I knew, can only be done once in a while — or once in a blue moon, as my students write in compositions.
To our surprise, Bensouda asked to be allocated some classes. This would be a first, for she had never had lessons on the timetable. The few times she has ever gone to class — which is about thrice in the last two years — she did so randomly. As she waited for the timetable, she went to any empty class for morning and evening preps.
Over the weekend, I made some slight changes to the timetable, giving Bensouda four lessons per week but advised teachers to be on standby as Bensouda may be a no-show. To discourage her, I deliberately assigned her morning and evening classes.
When I arrived at school on Monday morning, Bensouda was already there. She was in Class Eight for preps and all the students who had arrived after her were kneeling down outside the class.
Immediately after the parade, she went for her lesson. There were only three teachers in school. I texted those who had not arrived, telling them that Bensouda was around.
She called for a staff meeting immediately after she left class.
“So, this is what happens when I am away?” she asked. “Dre, you are the deputy yet less than half the teachers are around. I counted at least four classes that had no teachers.
Every teacher had an excuse. “I told you I would be late today, Dre, and you gave me permission,” said Alex, looking at me.
Bensouda asked Alex when I had given permission for Alex to arrive late
“Last week when he was the acting HM,” he said.
“For how long must I remind you that Dre has never acted as HM? He will never be one unless he fundamentally changes.”
“I expect the teacher on duty to take the job seriously,” she started. “For the last three days, I have been doing their job. Who is the teacher on duty by the way?” she asked.
“I am the one, and so far so good,” answered Lena, her badly done hair in tow.
“Did you say so far so good?” roared Bensouda. “I have not felt you at all!” Looking at me, she said, “You seem to have set very low standards for the teacher on duty that they imagine everything to be good when they have done nothing.”
“From tomorrow morning, I will show you the duties of a teacher on duty. Lena, make sure you arrive before I do,” she said. “I also expect you, Dre, to be here early. We can’t have a deputy who doesn’t understand the standards.”
“And whoever teaches maths in Class Eight has been cheating them,” she said. “I am spending a lot of time correcting the mistakes you have made. I wonder what they teach in TTCs nowadays. Useless.”
And so on Wednesday, Bensouda was in school early and showed Lena and I her expectations in terms of cleanliness. She did not want to see any dust in a classroom or any leaf left on the ground.”
For the next few days, all teachers were arriving on time, and no lesson was missed. Except, of course, Saphire.
“This is a miracle, Bensouda comes to school every day!” wondered Rasto when we met at Hitler’s on Friday evening. “Kuna kitu.”
“Either there is a new man in her life, or her man left her and all her focus is now on school,” said Alphayo.
“About the man in her life, why don’t we ask Dre? I am sure he knows more,” said Nyayo.
I told them not to invite me to discuss non-issues. My concern at the time was that by doing almost everything, Bensouda was rendering me useless. This cannot continue for long, I must do something — alone or with others — to ensure that Bensouda becomes once again an absentee HM. Any ideas from anyone?