There’s an emotional scene in Money Heist Season 5 where Tokyo gets cornered by the enemy. She is then shot at. Afterwards, she plunges into a deep state of self-reflection with abundant clarity just before life fades away from her soul. I always imagined that my time at the University of Nairobi would come to an end like that. Not with me dying. But with the high sense of candour and clarity that Tokyo had as she breathed her last. And maybe with a little bit of colour.
I thought that when my last day as law student finally came, I’d have everything figured out and possess a clear sense of direction. Not just at a personal level but also from a professional perspective. I have had long conversations with Brian Odiwuor in the past where all we did was wonder what lies ahead for naive law students beyond the messiness and noise of campus life. It remains a mystery to me. Perhaps that has got to do with the fact that life is so uncertain, short and a whole lot of other things at the same time.
It’s finally time to graduate. The finishing line has never been this close. I have to admit that I feel a huge sense of relief. My back still hurts a little though because of the burden I’ve been bearing these past four or so years. This is not to suggest that it gets any easier going forward. Like many, I feel overwhelmingly joyous amidst the cocktail of other emotions. I am at the tail end of a four year journey that began in the small corridors of Parklands on 9th January 2017. To say that it’s been a remarkable adventure would be to put out an understatement of the decade. I could spend days with a dictionary looking for the best modifiers or adjectives describe this journey but that wouldn’t suffice either.
Four years ago, I made the conscious decision of joining law school. Before that, I was madly interested in becoming a Software Engineer or pursuing something related to Artificial Intelligence. A huge chunk of my high school life was in fact spent in the computer lab figuring out how to navigate complicated programming languages like Python, Java and C++.
I looked forward to Mr. Ojwang’s computer lessons back then with strong enthusiasm and genuinely admired how geeky he sounded when in his element. My curiosity levels endeared him to me and soon I was the school’s Computer Studies chairman. I was flying high in code, binary and arithmetic logic. I loved the life. And of course I loved hanging around my Computer Studies’ mates with whom we sometimes did fascinating coding projects on countless late nights into the small hours of those brutal Equator mornings.
Life changes. Things change. A conversation with my dad changed everything and I embarked on the laborious unforgiving venture of studying the legal system of Kenya and those of various countries around the world. As JK Rowling once said though, “There’s an expiry date for blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction”. Or tough direction, as in my case. I don’t regret choosing Law as a path though. As a matter of fact, I have come to realise that it might probably be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my short life.
I might not have known it back then but deep down I always felt that my heart was in the right place from that very first day that I set foot in the majestic Sheria Hall. I would occasionally feel a sense of wonder about everything but mostly got inspired by the compassion and character of the people that I met.
My campus life has been as eventful as it could possibly be. I have had defining moments that brought me unrequited bliss and tough days that shattered my confidence to the gutters. In hindsight, I cherish all the experiences right from the sparkly group work moments to the last minute late-night studying endeavours.
The walks around the noisy Parklands neighbourhood with my friend Masiga, the discussions with my group-work buddy Mickey, the unnecessary quarrels between Bettina and Keganda and the hangouts with friends like Toby will forever be etched to both my conscious and subconscious memories. As insignificant as they seem, I would probably go back in time to relive them all over if given the choice. The small moments of joy, the thrill of chilly night walks around Indian settlements, the coffee dates and the gloomy days with friends all got me through the inevitable rough patches of life that campus brought.
I had the pleasure of meeting some of the brightest people from all over the country, interacting with the most formidable lawyers of our time and travelling to the most exciting places in the company of good friends. It is still clear to me how we randomly organised a spirited trip to South Coast with a joyful group of individuals in the later months of second year. I look back with a heart full of gratitude and a mind full of nostalgia. It is one of those rare occasions in life that teach you the value of appreciating the beauty of travel and the love that people harbour in their hearts.
Campus also introduced me to people whose passion for the law is plethoric, in a good way. I encountered chaps who spent countless hours in the library devouring huge volumes of law texts in search of timeless wisdom like alchemists. I am trying not to mention names but I can’t resist calling out Brian Odiwuor on this one. I always admired the focus and the discipline. I think I once mentioned to him that he looks at law books the way Elon Musk looks at spacecraft and electric cars. Likewise, there are people I knew who barely studied but for some reason seemed to often have everything figured out. Jack Brian is undoubtedly the leader of this camp. I always loved the boy’s natural intelligence.
All the grand and innocuous moments of campus now seem so significant in retrospect. From seeing Toby taste his first ever salted caramel at Java to witnessing Bettina being busy with everything you can possible think of. From my dating of a girl with very beautiful eyes to observing Keganda and Mary Lucy overcome tremendous adversities before finally welcoming a beautiful bouncy baby boy. From working with a group of brilliant people like Laureen Emma, Mike, Beth and Wendy to observing Masiga voluntarily take charge of group works in fourth year when my energy levels were completely depleted. I lived through it all. The development and transformation that I underwent because of these experiences is mighty. It’s also spiritual if you come to think of it. Or if you look at it from a meditative perspective.
At some point, I discovered the art of writing and did my first post. Alphayo was my first ever reader and he made some comments that provided a springboard against which my confidence shot up. You come across such great friends only once in a lifetime. My love for writing and reading has since evolved to altitudes I never anticipated. Since my first post in second year, I have written countless stories on friends, life, love and grief.
I hope to do more writing this coming year even as my schedule gets tighter. I hope to write about my energetic nephew Josh and my stubborn niece Joy. I hope to express myself more on the meaning of life. I hope to write about the enduring love of my mum and pay tribute to my upstanding grandfather who passed on in July this year. I hope to someday put the magnitude of my dreams in words and talk about the influence that great friends like Scola, Jeffah Ombati and Jeff Paul have had on my life choices. I also hope to write one final tribute to my late cousin Arnold whom I miss so much. Of course, I hope to write more personal letters to my friends and family. I have come to realise that their love and comfort can be immeasurable during trying moments. It’s fulfilling on another level. My writing consistency might have been curtailed by numerous projects running concurrently this past year but the love for the pen will only grow stronger.
This law school journey would not have been possible without the help of friends. There are so many confusing moments, rough days and challenging course units that could not have been surmounted without the spirit of collaboration. The tough group assignments are just but an example. The rigorous course works also come to mind. The endless research on long case laws and the long nights of study are all part of the gloom.
I am glad to have crossed paths with bright, diligent and loyal people who went beyond ordinary bounds of friendship to help out. I want to say a big thank you to all of them. I want to pay a special tribute to every person I did group works with during my fourth year. I won’t forget Hezbon, Michelle and Wahu Mutua whose relentless initiatives and endless phone calls eased the tension that characterised my homestretch part of that final year. Thank you all for that last academic dance.
I may not mention all names of everyone whose help came handy in one way or another but I know them all by heart. This journey could not have been possible without you. I love you all forever. You people deserve the world.
As we graduate this coming Friday, I wish you, all my classmates, unguarded happiness during the next phases of your lives. I wish each of you inner peace accompanied with ridiculous amounts of joy. I claim no authority to be savvy in issuing any life advice or counsel but I know with unblunted certainty that there will be some dark days ahead. There will be days that are filled with so much disappointments. Those are the days when all your puzzles will seem unsolvable and your highest dreams appear unattainable. Some many moments will also be characterised by torrents of loneliness. And days will come when you feel like quitting or throwing the towel like a dejected heavyweight boxer. When those days come, please remember how far you’ve come and hold tightly to hope. Regardless of how lost you will feel, keep the fire in you alive and don’t ever lose hope. In the words of Gwen Stacy, “We have to be greater than what we suffer.”
I have had a great four years in Parklands. I will miss the place very much. I will miss the people. I will miss the claustrophobic vibes of the institution. And, of course, I will miss the bright fireworks on dark nights during the yearly Hindu Diwali festivals. I guess this is how it ends after all.
In my four years at the place, I never met a sunrise or a sunset that I did not like.
A fantastic chapter of my life will begin this Friday as it will for my fellow classmates. I still lack clarity on many things. I still have some little bouts of confusion. I also still feel inadequate on many areas of law. I am however confident in my ability to soldier on when things get tough. Besides, the comfort and love of God has always provided a safe haven to our weary hearts.
This is my last blog post in campus. I want to end it with the lyrics of a famous African American spiritual hymn of the ancient times:
“There is a balm in Gilead,
To make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead,
To heal the sick-weary soul”
PS: I want to tell my dad that he is a great man. If he ever reads this.