It was a Thursday afternoon, we’d just had lunch and the digestive process meant that some normal bodily functions like eyes and ears wide open were being ignored by the respective organs, despite numerous signals from the brain.
All of a sudden, the headmistress bust in through the door, knocking off a rivet or two and ordered us out of class and onto the road outside school. We stood in order of height, held hands in pairs and a piece of stick with a paper bearing what I would later discover to be the most beautiful flag in the world shoved into our other free hands.
Our teachers were running from the classrooms to the staffroom to the toilets to tidy themselves up and for the first and only time, were referring to one another on first name basis.
The entire school lined State House Avenue like a live pavement with the assistance of a man in a brown khaki suit, a bakuli on his head and a thin black stick that looked like the headmistress’s favourite discipline assistant.
There were no cars on the road for like 5 minutes before a piki-piki rode past, jolting our eyes and ears to the previously ignored brain’s signals. It was followed by a 504 station wagon and a flight of Mercs punctuated by Volvos. A few seconds later, what looked like all the piki-pikis in the world rode past and the man of the moment followed, popping his head through the moon roof of his 600 Pullman, waving his white fimbo and we our flags to the tune of Nyayo! Nyayo! Nyayo!
Shortly, the show was over; we were all ordered back to class and told to tell our parents that evening that we had seen Nyayo.
This happened almost 30 years ago when I was at Lady Northey Nursery School.
The same scene was repeated almost to perfection Sunday 12th August 2007 as the Aga Khan came calling in Nairobi.
Limuru Road is where the show was set, just outside Aga Khan Primary where I think His Highness was headed for a late lunch or something of the sorts. People in wheelchairs, others on walking sticks and many more on their own two feet had scrapped their normal Sunday schedules to come catch a glimpse of their spiritual leader.
On hand to keep the order were some self-styled security boys with walkie-talkies, which they answered ‘hello’ once any crackling noise came through. It was so clear they were the children of security company owners. Then there was a guy who had to use a foghorn no matter who he was talking to. I think I saw him respond to a whisper in the ear from his wife with a ‘Not tonight. We did it last night’ over the foghorn which sent the multitude roaring in laughter.
The flags at hand were much better than those made 30 years ago. These were nicely done in glossy paper, unlike our matt ones whose colours threatened to run if held in sweaty palms.
Normal traffic flow was screeched to a halt by a wailing siren from a brand spanking new Yamaha ridden by a I-have-no-time-to-smile-at-you cop in a luminous jacket. A Nissan X-Trail with cops in the same outrider attitude hanging out of the doors in clear contravention of the traffic code followed.
Then our man of the moment followed in an S320 with real security men in funny-coloured suits jogging by the side. No wonder our cops make the best runners. My assumption is that they’d followed the motorcade from JKIA.
HRH was seated back left though you could hardly make him out through the semi-tinted windows.
Shortly, the show was over and we resumed our normal Sunday routines.