Today, we shall lay to rest a remarkable man! I say ‘we’ although I will be over 1000 kms away because as the Materi Girls Center fraternity, we are truly one! And as we lay him to rest, I’m reminded of all that he was — and it has just been impossible to summarize this man on one blog post. I have attempted to write about him, but he was just too much to be contained here. But today, as an honor to him, I will scribble something, and then I will sit and shed tears as I remember just how much I truly loved him.
I remember one time he was unwell and he went to America for a very long time. It could have been a few weeks but for us in Materi at that time, it seemed like an eternity. We would pass by his closed office and just lament at how much we missed him. We missed the ‘see Bro’s’, the Friday Movies, the free chewing gum on Friday and the many goodies that office held. But above all we missed Bro. John the man.
You see, Materi girls is not your ordinary High School. We hear of horrific stories that people went through in High school and we just can’t understand it. For us, High school was ideal! We were taught responsibility through freedom. You’ve heard it already, our school rule was ‘Use Your Common Sense’. And no, it was not written anywhere either. You were supposed to learn it and live by it!
He gave so many girls who would otherwise had never gone to school a life. He made us know that we are important, he made sure he said it as often as he could!. He called us all the sweet names some that were really hilarious. Mr Roses, my apples, my tomatoes — he once called us that after his trip to America just to show how much he had missed us! He loved us and we knew it. He always said that Materi was his wife and his children, and boy oh boy, weren’t we adored!
He made us beautiful, both inside and outside. He gave us a decent education, gave us decent food (we took porridge even at 10:00 AM, we always went home looking better than we left:) and have gave us jewellery and make up at a time when other schools were sending girls packing because of permed hair!
He bought clothes and sold them to us at a loss! I remember once he drove me from Meru town to Materi, and on the way he bought some sweat shirts at 70 bob. When we got to school, I thought he’s sell them at 100 to make a few coins. Imagine my shock when I went to buy one and he was selling them at 50 bob! I was moved to tears.
I bought my first photo album from him. I kept it up to the time I cleared campus — more than 8 years! My elder sister Lilian wouldn’t understand my obsession with that album. I carried it everywhere. My travel bag always contained the essentials — plus my album! She once scolded me for carrying my photo album everywhere, but it was never about the album. It was about the man who sold it to me. Bro!
Bro took the trouble to bring us our letters, send letters to our boyfriends and always reminded us to send a card to our parents on Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day was special in Materi. There was always something extra added to our meals. It could be a soda, a really huge Mango or whatever he found on that day, but it never went unnoticed. His girls were always appreciated. He was the perfect lover! It’s no wonder I still fuss over Valentines’ day, I still like feeling appreciated on Val’s Day!
Back to the time he was unwell in America. On the day he came back, there were no classes! We mounted a guard of honor from the gate and escorted him to his house, with shouts and singing! It was a great day! Our daddy was back! We were just wanted to tell him all that happened while he was away and accuse everyone who had provoked us!
When he later that evening came to give a speech to the girls, he told us of how he had had a near death experience. He saw his spirit leave his body and actually go heavenward. On getting to the gates, Peter told him to go back, his work was not done yet! I have never forgotten that story.
And so when he finally rested last week, I knew his work here was done. It was painful, it still is. I knew this day would come but I quite never got ready for it. We all didn’t. On that day, the gates of heaven were opened to him and he was ushered in. On that day, Bro had two sun rises –and no Sunset!