Graduate Spotlight: Young Israel Izere – Instant amnesia after encounter with men in uniform


Have you ever been in a situation where your memory failed, apart from when you are having an exam or a CAT? That growl ahhhhh! echoes so loud and you think to yourself “I know that” but you cannot seem to remember a thing.  This time I was not only at the mercy of my encounter but I was also not ready for what followed. A day that began with a stroll to Nairobi CBD became a “nightmare”. I had forgotten my documents and here I have been stopped by “Makarao”. To date, I am yet to figure out how they know if you are a Kenyan or a foreigner before any conversation. But with all that said I truly appreciate that learning some Kiswahili is truly an added advantage – “unaweza jitetea”.  For now, allow me to share other experiences and I will tell you how my encounter ended.

What was it like living in a foreign country?

A day at a time makes the days mellow. The first year, 1st semester was a walk into unchartered territories. Talk about the language barrier that contributed to my not having friends or acquaintances.  However, that quickly changed after I learned of the international students club that is very active and which runs an engaging WhatsApp group. It exposes you to others like you trying to figure out this “adulting” in a foreign country. During my studies, I got to live in a shared space and later ended up living on my own.  Both have perks but I enjoyed living by myself, although it came at a cost. For instance, I had to buy everything I needed, which was like moving into a new home. The hostel I previously lived in offered an all-inclusive package, including meals . My adventure of living solo meant letting go of some perks and learning how to become a self-made master chef. That was not easy, I remember times when I left campus late, only to get to my place exhausted that I choose to sleep over eating. However, the human body needs to be fed. My stomach would rumble at say 3am and sleep would disappear. On such days, I wished for sunrise so I could dash to the nearest shop or kibanda to grab something to bite. The worst days came towards the end of the month, that time when your leftover stock gets depleted, including salt and matches. The only available money was a gamble between a full or partial meals. I can attest that “smocha” came in very handy. What has it been like for you?

Back to the “Karao” experience

It happened twice in first year. In both instances, amnesia kicked in, and words never seemed to come out right, especially the very first time.  I knew I had not done anything wrong but there is always that fear of a man in uniform. However, the second time I was ready and it was as though I had rehearsed my response. I had also acquired a few contacts that could confirm that I was a student at the university. It is not easy to have to carry your documents around but I am glad to have the option of presenting my student ID.  At one point, I was asked to call someone at the University to confirm and Kevin Muchemi from the financial aid office was my SOS. Phew!  I am glad I had saved his number and that he picked up my call. By confirming my status, I escaped a trip to the nearest police station. Whose number can you call and be guaranteed they will pick up?

In closing, share your most memorable moment.

Many, many great memories will I be taking with me. But of course I can share one. During one of the admission recruitment visits around Africa my name was shared with the admissions team by “you guessed right”- Kevin. Behold, a return ticket that I had a choice of picking a return day was at my disposal. I run with it, earned myself a long awaited trip back home that lasted almost two months.  My advice to all students is plug into clubs, you will meet people of many nations and learn their culture. Over and above that, get to know the staff, not just faculty, you never know where they will take you, it may be just a trip back home.


Young graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Informatics and Computer Science (1st Class Honours) degree.


This article was written by Annete Karanja.

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