Since I was young I’ve always had the knack for beautiful things. That was 22 years ago born very white and innocent. As I was told by my mum immediately my grandmother laid her eyes on me she named me Gatune. In my mother tongue this meant the brown girl and since then I’ve lived up to the name. My birth name Lynda Chalker, being named after the then baroness of England has always messed up my mind to think I’m royalty and English, which has also often been replaced by mzungu and white girl as my friends like to call me. I don’t blame them, but my sweet late grandmother who always saw me and my coat as the embodiment of pureness, after all I’m white right? Since then I’ve grown to adapt and embrace any name that signified so irregardless of the language. Before I lead you astray I’m not complaining. See, being light skinned as people blurt and having rangi ya pesa as it’s often regarded can make you supernatural. Actually it makes you so.
Being a college student has taken this light skinned through a rollercoaster. In high school I only had one goal get good grades, join a good university, (of course I pictured myself being la crème de la crème) and pursue a career in Media and Journalism. That’s one too many? Okay, moving on. Well I got good grades thanks to the Almighty and I joined Moi university to pursue… BA Now this acronym was the mother of all. It had folks in your case like did you just get admitted to a university to take a general course? What exactly will you be studying to be? Where will you work? Are you going to study everything? They couldn’t end.
This happened, after revising but failing to submit my career choices online. Fresh men are familiar with this feeling from friends and folks whose series of question tend to end with, “what are you going to pursue then since you’ve managed to join the university.” That’s when you start getting the hint that adulthood is a trap. Why did I have to figure all this on my own? And in case you lack the pleasure of doing so it’s decided for you. You know parents with decision making and right choices…. In short the level of anxiety is usually on another level. But I’m blonde so I comforted myself with the saying, things happen for a reason and I embraced my career choice linguistics; after all it was in line with language and I’m a lover of languages.
I reported to the university on 29th October 2012. This was a really memorable day. Having never been to Eldoret and together with my mother surviving the horror of going through Nairobi’s country bus station to secure a bus which was to pass via Eldoret to Kisumu meaning we had to alight immediately we ‘sensed’ we were near Moi university main campus. As you know buses don’t carry tauts. And this one we travelled in was special. Filled to capacity with every type of traveller from business men to young guys wearing really rugged clothes, don’t get it twisted I mean rugged, ripped, torn in the ‘bad’ kind of way-clothes. The noise was also competing with the tornado of stench engulfing the bus. Seated right in front of the back seats the high jumps I covered through that journey could’ve silenced my primary teacher who thought I was never active enough. At the left back corner a baby had been crying technically since we met. Taking just a few seconds of nap after being fed tea from a small thermos which was erected carefully along the pathway, would keep her nourished before the noise from the arguing loud men awoke her and her screams would be diminished by them.
We reached Eldoret at 2 a.m leaving the chaos and the friends we made to travel the rest of the journey safely. For a moment I couldn’t hear myself from the dust, the noise and the cold we had endured throughout that night. Just before I could turn the bus hooted as it left scattering dust particles in the air and my eardrum opened. One thing I thanked that bus for.
We decided to wait till the sun came out for us to proceed with the journey to the university. We had to wait out cold at an open hotel since all guest houses had been occupied and that was the only opened place at the time. The land was cold and the air freezing. Silence and pitch darkness characterized the town. Coming from Nairobi this was culture shock. In towns people never sleep. Eldoret was unique. I remember feeling this great relief from seeing how the town was quiet and small, compared to the city, less skyscrapers and plenty of vegetation. Serenity is my downfall. And Eldoret city was my muse.
With the help of the friendly inhabitants we were on our way from Eldoret town to this vast university. That journey took two hours only. On reaching we headed straight to my School since there were rumours going around that the queues on such particular days never end. Since the early bird catches the worm we went right ahead. That’s when we saw this crowd being addressed by a tall man. I heard he was being called the dean and from the looks of it he was trying to calm people down and reason out with them. Parents, children, us students, relatives everyone was representing. Some families just like in a feast, all members present.
The rumor was true. The opening date was being pushed to the coming week. This was from a memo released the previous day as people were travelling and people really came out voice high. Everyone wanted to be heard of the expenses, the exhaustion from the long journey but none mentioned they were tired of grown people chillaxing at home waiting to go to the university. This dean had to listen! And so he authorized for every freshman to get signed in officially but accommodation wise every man was for himself. Later, a directive was given to housekeepers to settle in all first years and give them a temporary place to stay.
Lady luck was on my side. I had a friend living in the schools’ guest houses which are usually occupied by international students from outside Kenya. After all the janitor couldn’t tell I’m not international. I’m white, another said yellow but I look pretty damn international, they said. Life was good and I thought this is how our hostels would be like. Clean, hot showers, a kitchen, and privacy, basically a home.
I was getting used to it. Week after, well that too came to an end after the supposed official date for signing in students came and everyone was expected to secure themselves a room. The coveted hostel among girls was K, said to be clean and Kileleshwa in every way, I eyed it. Too bad in my green form I had chosen J. This hostel was near ‘Soweto’ in every sense of that word. So i settled. Rock bottom had a basement. I still had to fight my way through the fighting queue to pick a key from the housekeeper. At the time I had the spirit, tiny but full of spirit. Plus some people had the common courtesy of letting me through from thinking I looked so white and delicate subjected under too much pressure, I may tear. Well I got a room a nice roommate who later revealed to me that at first, after seeing me she didn’t think I was real. Reason she came back a week later. And so did friends of a guy friend I made think. What was it again, ahuh! They thought i was a genie. Tiny and very white. I remember him disclosing this after I had faked to be able to read people’s ora and character just from a glance This had him in check. Men, i had tricks. I couldn’t wait to begin the adventures of campus. This was just the beginning of life as a light skinned. Super natural.