Strathmore at a Glance- a COP beneficiarys visit to SU
The journey from Naivasha Maximum Prison to University of Nairobi was quite short; the prison car did not stop anywhere else. On 26th November, I was to start a residential session for the second semester at UoN where I am taking a B. Com Degree. I, by the virtue of my status in society was in company of two prison officers, Sergeant Kelvin, Corporal Benson and our Prison Chaplain Rev. Zachary. All of us wore civilian clothes; no-one could note that among the quartet was a guest of the state.
After I had completed my business at the UoN, I decided to grab the opportunity and pay a courtesy call at Strathmore University, on invitation by Mr. Luis Borrallo, Director of Advancement. Mr. Borrallo had been very impressed by my achievements in academics while still serving a long stretch at Naivasha Maximum Prison.
The normal procedures at the entrance required that we identify ourselves and the office we were visiting. Strathmore University, I learnt, is not a place for every rogue or idler to trespass as they please. I admired the strictness of security personnel. This gave me a lot of confidence that I was in a safe place.
Having no formal appointment, it was difficult for the security personnel to link us to our host. Luckily, I could recall Madam Roselyn Waraus cell-phone number off-head. She instructed the guards to direct us to Students Centre to wait for her. The last time I had been here, was May 7th, 2010 to attend my graduation ceremony at School of Accountancy, privileged to be a graduand. Back then, the phase 3 development project was still under construction. I was awed by finished product; it was a piece of art to behold.
It was lunch hour and most of the students were heading towards Students centre. Just outside the School of Business, the first student spotted me. She came running and gave me a generous hug, Hi Peter, you mean you are here? Within no time, tens of other students surrounded me all talking at the same time. Funny enough, I couldnt recall any of them despite them confessing to have met me in Naivasha.
We got into the Students Centre; it was a beehive of activity. It was very busy; some were eating; others working on their laptops. Here, every one appeared to own a laptop. I didnt appear out of place as I had mine too. A few youngsters of opposite gender were holding hands and smiling boldly. Two young men introduced themselves and kept us company before Ms. Warau could join us.
Suddenly, an elegantly attired lady with a brisk and businesslike tone which exuded ebullience came towards me, Welcome to Strathmore and feel at home, she said. Ms. Warau had recognized me from a distance. A special table was set up to host us, the special visitors. I was particularly esteemed by the attention my unannounced presence had attracted. Drama was unending and my colleagues from Naivasha made the scene more amusing.
Personally, I was impressed by the remarkable meal and inwardly couldnt help compare to what goes on in Naivasha during meal times and what I was experiencing here. If you are of the opinion that there is any comparison, well, you urgently need to seek a psychiatrist. Hope you understand
Afterwards, we were taken around to see the campus by Ms Warau. I fleetingly glimpsed at the figure of Dr. Jim McFie, the accounting guru, I waved at with unexaggerated enthusiasm. I was informed that the new Green buildings use natural light, natural cooling fountains hence the many glass walls, fountains and that the buildings host different departments.
I was very interested to see Strathmore Business School to compare the facilities with my University of Nairobi; I visited School of Law, SU Library and several other facilities. I wondered if Strathmore students get referrals in their exams considering the quality of facilities at their disposal. Am still investigating this
I also noted with a measurable degree of both confusion and pride that throughout, a gesture to give priority was always directed to the officers to let me in first. The general impression was that the officers were my inferiors according to the hosts. Few curious onlookers could not understand who this unannounced visitor was.
I sincerely admired the courtesy of the Strathmorians, both staff and students alike. I was impressed by the manner of dressing in Strathmore. It is not unusual to find young ladies from other institutions very scantily dressed. Ms. Warau confirmed that the dress code is for all students and staff members to abide by. As we were about to leave, I was lost for words and as if to bring me back to my senses, Madam Warau concluded- That is Strathmore University at a glance. She bid us farewell and we thanked her for her time and cordial welcome.
Finally as we were leaving, I spotted the identical twin sisters, Janet and Rose. I was already inside the Prison van but the officers were philanthropic enough to allow me an opportunity to alight and receive an ardent hug. Have they not decided to let you free yet? Rose, or was it Janet , inquired softly while recovering from the concern I could read in their eyes.
Imagine not yet, I replied.
Uko smart the other said forcing me to quickly look at my attire and comparing with what others around me were dressed in and indeed, without being proud I was juu. For sure, there was a remarkable difference, even Madam Warau could attest to this. I was flattered.
Are you leaving? … When did you arrive?
Mmm I arrived approximately two or so hours ago I answered, Please excuse me as I have to leave I bid them farewell as I headed back to our vehicle for my journey back home away from home.
The writer, Peter Kamau, is an immediate beneficiary of the Prisons Project, an initiative of Strathmore’s Community Outreach Program (COP), whereby inmates are sponsored to pursue CPA and KATC courses, both of KASNEB. There are inmates who study through Distance Learning Study packs and revision kits, provided to them through the Prisons Project Initiative. They are also provided with the necessary stationery throughout their learning period.
Peter Kamau went through the entire CPA program, and got an exemption to study BCOM at University of Nairobi. On 3rd Dec, he will be at Strathmore, to give a talk about his life in crime, his life in prison (Naivasha Maximum Prison) and his transformation into the person he is today. It is going to be an educative talk and participants will get a firsthand account from him.