Mwalimu Andrew: Taskforce to get me an acting deputy

Mwalimu Andrew

The last person to have a loyal and committed deputy in Kenya was Bensouda

Photo credit: John Nyaga | Nation Media Group

Ever since Bensouda – may she continue resting in retirement – was forced to retire late last year, I have been single-handedly running this school. Those not in the know will say that I should have immediately appointed an acting deputy. My friends, talk is cheap.

Only those who do not live in Kenya do not know that there is a Global Deputy Problem. Finding a loyal and committed deputy is not easy. If you are doubting this, please ask your president, or even your governor. If their deputies are not doing the opposite of what they have been asked, they are busy plotting how to take over from the bosses.

The last person to have a loyal and committed deputy in Kenya was Bensouda. If you remember, I served diligently. I did not fight her but always ensured that I was available all the time and covered her weaknesses – which were many – but never took credit for her achievements, which were non-existent!

And until that day when the Sub-County Director of Education called me and asked me to be the deputy, the whole world knew that the HM of our school was Bensouda, despite the fact that I ran the school.

As soon as I was announced headmaster – I do not consider myself acting headmaster – almost every teacher in the school started jostling to be appointed deputy, even those who did not deserve to be teachers in the first place.

From Madam Lena, her bad hair in tow, to Mrs Atika, who should have retired already were it not for Sambaza; from Madam Mary to Alex; From Nzomo to Sella. Even Saphire, just imagine!

Only Kuya did not try to convince me. He did everything to make me know that the deputy post was his rightful position. He even insinuated that he should actually have been the HM while I should have been his deputy, or less.

Over the school holidays, I really thought about the deputy issue and decided that in the new term, I would appoint an acting deputy. Since I will become an MP in August, it was important to ensure a smooth leadership transition in the school.

So, when we opened school, I delayed calling for a staff meeting, as I wanted to see if any teacher would take the initiative to call for one. I wanted to see if there was any proactive deputy material in my staffroom. As feared, by Wednesday evening, no one had even whispered about a staff meeting. If anything, there was just laxity.

Lena, her bad hair in tow, was arriving late and leaving early; Mrs Atika was not returning to school once she left for lunch; Alex had only come to school twice; Kuya had appeared in school briefly, then disappeared; Nzomo had called to say she would arrive a week late while Saphire doesn't even know that schools opened — if he remembers he a teacher, that is!

That evening, I wrote to the staffroom WhatsApp group, inviting all the teachers for a staff meeting the next day at 9am. Three items were on the agenda: KCPE performance review, annual strategy, and the term one programme.

So as to look presidential, I arrived at school at 9.03am and went straight to the library, the venue of the meeting. At 9.05am, only Alex, Lena and Mrs Atika were there. Sella arrived 10 minutes later and when asked, she said she did not see me and so she thought that the meeting had been postponed.

Madam Ruth arrived half an hour later and said she does not read her WhatsApp messages in the evenings.

“When I am home, I am usually busy with the children. I do not read WhatsApp. If you have anything important, please call me,” she said.

When I reminded her that WhatsApp was an important communication tool that should be checked frequently, she retorted: “By the way, Dre, there is no ministry circular recognising WhatsApp as an official communication tool, and TSC did not buy me my phone. Nor does it buy me bundles.”

I said nothing but quietly ruled her out as a possible acting deputy.

Kuya arrived without offering any explanation or apology for being late.

“If we had a deputy, he would have done the KCPE analysis, given that the acting HM is busy with politics,” he said.

I told him I was not an acting HM – I was HM, and that politics did not interfere with my work.

“Also remember that you were the Senior Master. What did you not do it?” I asked him, but he mumbled some incomprehensible statement to the effect that he had been sidelined in the school administration.

Lena said: “With all due respect, we need a deputy for this school or else we are headed nowhere.”

 “When I look around here, I do not see much deputy material. I only see whiners,” I replied.

“It doesn’t have to be any of us,” said Kuya. “Just get us an acting deputy.” He added that he had no wish to serve under me.

“Anyway, since you all think that a deputy will add you Bonga points on your phones, I will appoint a steering committee to advise me on who amongst you will be the acting deputy HM.” I did not disclose who the committee members were to the teachers, but I can reveal here that Nyayo, Rumona and Alphayo are in the Apostle Elkana-chaired committee.

As I inaugurated the committee,  I was clear that I would not direct them on whom to nominate as I did not have any favourites. I only told them whom I did not expect to see nominated.  Ladies and gentlemen, the wait will soon be over.