A Man is Dead

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Some of you were born in Nairobi, in houses with lavish compounds or estates with swimming pools where you would cool the heat off in chilled treated waters. For some of us, the great children of the Savanna, we had to share pools with stubborn cows that never loved our peace.

We would push the cows downstream so that they drink from our piss but somewhere somehow some random guy like Toilan Ole Konyoyo aka ‘Kisonko’ would push his mother’s goats upstream and we would be wondering, why does this water taste funny?

We would then start accusing each other of pissing in the waters only to see a very dark guy diving in the waters. Enter muguru, the revolutionary, well built swimming pool that schooled in group of schools called Rombo Boys Primary School, was brought up by both parents and was sanctified by the late Father George, a devout Christian in the nearby Catholic Church. Surely, there were no reported accidents despite the hard rocks and our mischievous selves.

Muguru
Muguru, an iconic swimming pool for all lads that schooled in Rombo Boys. The waters have really subsided with time.

Every young lad who schooled in Rombo boys enjoyed the waters that snaked round the school. In the southern part of the school, we had another small stream that wound its way to Mfyeka Pori’s home. It was iconic for, wait… for the sake of PG, let me say in a way Gen Zs wouldn’t understand.

The small stream was full of creatures we call Njororis that were in those days the natural version of plastic surgery for the other gender that have captions like, ‘Small girl with a big God.’ Hakuna! We all know it is Njororis that did the magic but anywhu. This is where I say, “Thank God you have hidden such a cryptic message to the Gen Zs.”

I don’t want to say that Rombo girls pupils were frequently spotted there but duru za kuaminika, sorry English people I cannot translate that but let me try; screams of believables say that Rombo Girls pupils were frequently spotted there. Well, wacha tuseme they were getting clay for molding class. Someone explain to Social Studies guys what molding is. Mrs. Kamau is retired, she would have told them.

So where were we? Rombo Girls… Wait No! I just remembered I do not have a wife yet and I might go hit on an alumni of Rombo Girls and they reject me for saying I said they did plastic surgery with insects. Worse till, you might soon sing ‘Liko Lango’ in my home in Musangairo eating our mchele for free.

Alraait (Insert Dj Afro’s) voice. One day, I am swimming with obviously the guy who lets his mother’s goats piss upstream, Katoo & Dennis who were fellow neighbors and teacher’s sons, and I think Merin or the Late Dao if I am not wrong. Punde si punde please don’t ask punde ni nini because we are getting serious.

Haya baas, punde si punde, we are diving better than Michael Phelps enjoying the sanctified waters and it is time to go get insurance. Our insurance was kuni so that when your parents ask you where you were you tell them that you had gone to fetch firewood because they forbade going to muguru. They were just mean and jealous of our amazing childhood.

So the first one to get away from the waters was I think Dennis ooh because he was raised well only for him to realize our clothes are missing. Meanwhile, we had told Mr. Mbuzi Piss guy to keep watch of our clothes because the muguru was infested with mischievous ghosts who stole our clothes just for show.

We are looking around kumbe this guy had gone to geuza his mother’s goats, naked. The guy was actually so dark that you naturally couldn’t notice him let alone in the waters. And that’s when we realized kimeturamba. I am really pitying those that don’t know English or sheng’ and are reading this, poleni.

Our clothes were missing and we knew it was either one of two things.

1. The Maasai morans who come from the end of the world 1,000 miles from Mfyeka Poris home huko kwa kina Tikwa and Ntikoisa (Oh my God I miss Mr. Nekarei) have hid our clothes to give us a beating because they hated when young boys enjoyed life. We didn’t blame them because they grew without water. They would hide them because some lads would dive and forget to herd the cows which would go to eat St. Clare’s girls.

2. Mzee mwenyewe has taken our clothes and we are about to receive some caning on our butts. There is WWE and WWE RAW. We are about to receive the latter because Mzee Mwenyewe didn’t cane young lads with their shorts on. You had to enter WWE RAW. Ata wewe I cannot explain much because one day I will have kids and they will read this blog.

If you haven’t dived in muguru then you are not a true alumni of Rombo Boys. But some people took life so serious mpaka you wonder if they really enjoyed school. Look at the likes of Lawyer Lekerai, did he really dive in Muguru? Kwanza I typed this guy’s thesis in 2003 wacha tu. Na siku hizi ata hanijui. Siku hizi mimi ni others. But isokay, dunia duara. We can pardon people like Harris Parteyie because, you now, mtoto wa Pastor should not have his but naked amongst Pharisees like Ndiki.

Manners maketh man they say and if you schooled in Rombo Boys Primary School between 1982 and 2002 then you realize that this phrase was enforced by none other than Mzee Geoffrey Leyian the man I call mzee mwenyewe also known as ‘Headmaster’ by the many young lads in the school.

He was known to turn boys so called ‘laiyok’ in Maasai or ‘vihii’ in Kikuyu into bold men. His masculinity was unmatched making him a respectable figure in the society. As a devout member and a ‘mzee wa kanisa’ of AIC Church Illasit, he would mount his bicycle every Friday evening on Betu’s Toyota Stout to go to his humble abode in Oldule, Illasit so that he can spend time with his family and attend church on Sunday.

Betu's Stout
Betu’s Toyota Stout that ferried people from Illasit to Rombo

I remember Monday parades as Lemurrao Sunde Keen would lead us into amazing hymns like, “Ulichopanda, ulichopanda utavuna… Bwana Yesu ndiye mchungaji mwema utavuna ulichopanda…” and then the Class 8’s akina Salu and Eric would sing the interlude in bass, “Utavuna ulichopanda?” Then the class 6s akina Sempele and Dennis Muita thinking that they were the gringos of the time, would reitarieate and sing, “Ulichopanda, ulichopanda, utavuna.”

Meanwhile, okay, something has told me not to speak about Brian Lemiso because apparently I love the Lord and also my 32 teeth. But truth be told Rombo Boy’s songs were just so lit. After the song, raising of the flag and neno from the deputy headmaster Mr. Muita we would see a man on a bicycle and we would all go silent because a force has come.

There was something about Mr. Leyian. His demeanor was that of a lion. He would enter a room and you would feel that a force has entered. You would feel that someone of virtue is in the room. You will feel that a father figure has entered. You would see that will fellow teachers. They treated him with reverence and honor.

This guy probably woke up at 4am and cycled all the way from his home in Oldule to the school, a total of 22.5km according to Google Maps. He would place the bicycle just beside the administration block and address and school. It was pitch silence as young lads would listen to their father.

Rombo Boys Admin Block
Rombo Boys Admin Block

He would often joke and immediately after the laugh, the young lads will quickly go silent listening to his advice about education and school. He taught about how important school is, how it is more valuable than herding and really helped the society especially old Maasai men who thought that their lads were more beneficial herding than schooling. He was known for his iconic phrase of saying safi meaning good.

Jokes aside, I grew without a father and this man shaped my life as I needed a father figure to emulate. He really shaped my childhood because I saw how bold and confident he was. I saw how diligent and consistent he was and I emulated that. Today, I am where I am because I emulated the character of a great man.

He would call me ‘Nkiok’ short form for ‘enkiok’ a maasai word meaning ear. Well, I hate to say this but I had very long rabbit ears when I was young. I looked like a trophy, well, he wasn’t wrong, most ladies think I am the trophy. He called my brother ‘macho’ because of his big eyes. It is funny that we hang out with some wazees at some local joint and one of them calls him Ringtone.

Mr. Geoffrey Leyian was an icon among parents, teachers and the society as a whole. He was not only an icon to the boys he schooled but he also saw the gap with the girl child’s education. The only girl school available was Rombo Girls Boarding Primary school which was expensive for the common mwananchi and so many girls were sold into early marriages.

Rombo Boys Primary School
Rombo Boys Primary School Today

Mr. Leyian before leaving Rombo Boys in 2002 advocated that the school becomes a mixed school and it was so. He not only left a mark in the many men that have careers through good education but also families that couldn’t afford school fees at the time.

There was once no food in Rombo Boys at the time and children would come as far as Oiti and Elerai bracing elephants, hyenas and other wild animals to come to school. They would go back at 4pm bracing a 2-3 hour journey only to find empty sufurias and plates.

This is what would make them steal most of Mrs. Lempira’s mangoes and other wild fruits like Entarara found just beside the plastic surgery stream because they had no food. Headmaster Leyian together with other stakeholders helped introduce USAID yellow maize which is a feed given to animals in other countries to help these starving families.

To tell you the truth half of the population had no shoes, 95% of the remainder had what we call ‘Nkinyera’ in Maasai. Proud Nairobi Luos call it ‘akala’ and only 5% of us had shoes. I remember Abdullahi and I had white sport shoes. I told my mum to buy me Nkinyeras so that I could fit in.

75% of children had no sweaters or they were torn to pieces. They would brace the cold in a thin shirt. They also had crazily torn uniforms and Marlboro papers was the official school bag. I know Gen Zs don’t know what I am talking about. Despite all these challenges, damn we were happy because that was the life we knew. I know all this sounds funny but this is proof.

Rombo Boys Class 4
Rombo Boys Class 4. If you can spot me then you are a hero. This picture was taken using my mom’s camera who is standing behind. Look at the shoes, and those without. All of you can spot abdullahi right? The kid with white sport shoes.

Mr. Leyian used to be my neighbor in the Teachers Quarters which most of my Maasai counterparts would pronounce other things unknown to man. They would say, ‘nimetuma na malimu shishas kwostas!’ I was home recently and it so funny that I visited Rombo Boys 23 years later. This is where we used to live. This was our house.

Our House in Rombo Boys
Our House in Rombo Boys

One of the most traumatic moments of my life was the 1998 famine where I saw hundreds of Maasai women sitted in the Rombo Boys field awaiting food distribution. I remember it like yesterday. Most children were suffering from Kwashiokor because of malnutrition.

I saw people both men and women and mostly the aged arrive in number to the grounds as early as 6am not to miss a kilo of USAID yellow maize, peas and maybe quarter or half a liter of relief food. I vividly remember the USAID containers and I remember the hunger drawn on the faces of my classmates.

I saw old men and women sitting on the sun from morning till around 7pm awaiting the relief food lorries and the local chief. Sometimes they delayed because of the bad Emali-Rombo road. Mr. Leyian is known for helping facilitate the food distribution in the area therefore helping hundreds if not thousands of families get relief food.

Sadly… This country is no place for a teacher. My own mother is a teacher and she is recently retired. Teachers get meagre salary. I see the fate of teachers back in my village and I pity them. The society has forgotten the people that raised their kids into those beautiful and prestigious jobs they have today.

Teachers would clean our poop, buy us books and food from their own money, money which they did not have. My mom tells me her salary was KES 500 when she started schooling. Now, if that teacher retires and falls ill, the simple assets they acquired 40 years of their career is used to cater for the medical bill. That cow, that plot of land in a remote place is what would be used to treat him.

At that point, he is not relevant to anybody, he is not schooling anybody’s child. He is tired, old and dysfunctional to the society and sooner or later, they meet their fate; death. Sadly, the many children he sacrificed for in schools he taught, and those parents he helped raise their children hear of his death and sadly say, “Oooh, he died? So sad.” And that’s it.

Sadly… Mr. Geoffrey Leyian aka Headmaster fell ill.

I went to his home, drove in the tiny road, got stuck, some humble men from the nearby villages in Tanzania helped me out and I finally arrived at his humble home in Oldule. I looked at the same old dilapidated house and tears almost went down my cheeks.

I saw a dark cloud hovering. I saw some impending gloom and I told my brother that we should pray. We went round the compound which we used to play as kids and just prayed. We saw the wife, a very humble mother with a heart of gold who would give us stuff to take back to our mum every time we would go and we held hands and just prayed. Little did I know that a week later, the father figure I had in my childhood would breath his last…

Now he has a crazy bill of KES 750,000. The family doesn’t know whether they should sell the cow or the land. They are thinking of doing a harambee. The family is in pain and gloom but I am not. Why? Because I decided that I will use all avenues to help raise that money. I will use my God-given talent of writing to help move some weight off.

I will use Facebook channels, I will mention the Tikwas, the Merins, the Ntikoisas, the Keens, the Lekerais, the Abdulahis, the Ndikis, the Salus and even their families and ask them, ‘Has this man has played a role in your life? If so, what can we do about it?’

You know what? You don’t have to be rich, you don’t have to be Bill Gates to help someone move a burden upon their life. Even your KES 50 is enough to help give the man a proper burial. You know what? Even if you do not have, just show up on that day with a quarter kilo of sugar or even 2 bananas. Even without anything, walk there. We call that honor and God sees that.

For me, I have used my writing skills to help move this weight from the family. I have called a few people and admins of groups on Facebook to see how we can help in this. I have used my graphic design skills to create a poster that you can share far and wide to help this family. Guys, every single man was born with compassion and love, it’s time to showcase it.

And I will ask, what are you doing about this? In you, you have the capacity to like, share and comment on this post to just help it gain traction. That will be the first place to start. Kindly let us give handsomely or whatever we have to Philip Mugo, a representative appointed by the family on MPESA Number – 0724305912 which will read as Philip Wangari.

You know what, thank you for reading till the end, I really honor you. Now let’s honor this man. Download this poster and let’s share far and wide.

Geoffrey Leyian Medical Appeal

Click here to join the Mwalimu Leyian WhatsApp Group

Kindly comment on this post if this man helped you in life. Tell us about your experiences with him. Rest in Peace Mzee.

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