SU Staff vs. Mount Longonot; Who Will Blink First?
Many days before the scheduled day of Mount Longonot Hike for Staff of Strathmore University, the conversations in the WhatsApp group created to coordinate this were already running late into the night. Many of the staff were already fantasizing how they would humble the moderately tricky mountain in record time. A number of the staff were apprehensive, uncertain how it would turn out. They didn’t want to utter any words that could annoy the mountain. They were the ones who only used smiling emojis to respond to conversations. For some, this was the first hike and for others, this was one among many hikes they have taken part in. Regardless of the circumstance, the excitement that awaited the day was unprecedented.
On the morning of 9th October, 2021, the earlier excitement shown by the staff was translated into an actual moment of joy. By 6am, many staff members were already at the University ready for take-off which was scheduled at 6.20am. Dressed in a daring attire, ready to prove a point to the Mountain, the faces of staff members showed it all. This was a unique chance to drop off the thoughts of “to-do-lists” and “daily targets” and unwind, bond as we reminded our muscles and general wellbeing that we still care for them.
Upon arrival at Longonot, the first activity was to form groups. The names chosen by different groups showed the kind of a day we would have. I was in the Subaru group. And I don’t have to go into the many stories of Subaru boys which you probably already know. Other groups included Leopard, Rangers, Yosefu, Pandora and Tortoise. Now, imagine, Subaru, Leopard, Rangers, Tortoise and Pandora(Papers) in competition against the mountain!
Gradually gaining momentum and facing the “mountain” ahead of us, the excited hikers started speaking in low tones as if the mountain was eavesdropping to hear what they were saying ‘against’ it. Slowly, the staff started walking in small groups and the voices started dropping. This is when the muscles started speaking. Being in the Subaru Group, we were naturally the first to face the mountain. But even within Subaru, there was some kind of class struggle. Dr. Shibwabo Bernard and Richard Wanjohi took it a bit too far. Their speed wasn’t encouraging to those who had “a long way to go”. Rose Mathenge and I quickly called for a strategy meeting and decided to “eat the mountain with a small spoon”. Slowly but surely, we followed our colleagues and observed the many hikers not from SU, some very daring to even come hiking in high heels! The audacity! This gave us an opportunity to observe the trauma other hikers had trying to catch up with Subaru. Many of them, only provoking their muscles to fail them. If you doubt me, ask Mercy Mukulu or Neville Nyakundi.
As time went by, the mountain kept instilling the virtue of humility in the staff. You would walk by someone and not even hear a word from them. Not even a word of “keep at it, almost there”. No, all the energies were directed towards the “fight ahead”. Walking past those staff members who seemed to “get their acts together” at the beginning, gasping for air, unable to respond even to greetings reminded us that deep down, we all have the capacity to be humble.
The joy of reaching the Kilele Ngamia (the highest point in the Mountain), was not only exciting but also very rewarding. Those who couldn’t attempt to go round the caldera at the top felt at a loss. Many of them never contributed to the discussions on our way back. Coming down from the mountain was easier. You could hear the whispers of the song, “freedom is coming todaaaaay!”. They were ready to share the experiences of the day and apologize to the body through the Nyama Choma that had been prepared.
True to the promise, Catherine Kibunja and Nick Ongeri (the organizers) knew that the demand for food wouldn’t be scarce. No wonder, they bought 4 goats and 10 chicken (among other delicacies) just for a population of about 70 staff. This translated to each of us eating at least a kilogram of something. Imagine! To be honest, we ended up having more than a kilogram. How else would you explain the amount of snoring in the bus on our way back?
What a beautiful weekend. What a worthy course! I wonder how those who didn’t manage to come are still able to keep up with the pace of life. Mt. Longonot gave us the much needed energy to keep trudging through the pandemic. More than that, it encouraged us that we can all learn something of humility. The Outdoor adventures is one among the many activities carried out by the People and Culture Department for the Well-being of the staff. Book to be part of the next exciting hike scheduled for 13th November, 2021.
And if you think you have what it takes, then join team Subaru!
To join SU Outdoor Adventures and other initiatives by the Wellness Team, contact Catherine through: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
The article is written by Gabriel Dinda, a teaching fellow at School of Humanities and Social Sciences.
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