Last week, being the last week of the term, I planned to spend most the time running Androil Ventures, my new oil business.
You see, after earning some good money from registering KCPE and KCSE candidates online, I decided not to lalia masikio and invested the money in my dream business: kerosene.
It was easy to settle on kerosene, as all the other lucrative businesses in Mwisho wa Lami – mandazi, scones (which we call bikonzi), and Hitler’s stuff – were taken up.
Kerosene has two other advantages. It is not edible, which means that even when I am not around, it won’t be illegally eaten or drunk. Secondly, it is not perishable.
So, two weeks ago, I went to our district headquarters and bought three jericans of kerosene to be sold from my sitting room every evening. I also bought several sizes of weighing containers.
On the tree at our gate, I placed a well typed advertisement for my business. It read: Androil Investments. Mafuta Taa ni Mimi.
Despite my low prices, a few days after I launched my business, I had not sold much. The trouble with Mwisho wa Lami folks is that they buy kerosene in very small quantities – usually for the day.
Since most of them use the small lamps that we call koroboi, a few drops can last for a week, considering that my people have nothing else to do but sleep once they have eaten the night.
The consumers of kerosene are the families with children in school – and this is the group that I targeted with my “Kuhama” campaign.
Last Monday, I announced at the morning parade that I was selling kerosene – making the announcement a polite order. I also did not punish two pupils who had come late that day since they had bought kerosene from my place the previous day.
My strategy worked. That evening, I sold quite a good amount, as most pupils had “ported” to Androil Ventures for their kerosene needs.
But a visit by Kizito, a colleague from a neighbouring school, that evening opened my eyes.
“Dre, wacha aibu ndogo ndogo,” he said. “A man who wants to be a high school Principal by 2023 cannot be selling kerosene in his house.”
He advised me to play it big. “Sell this kerosene on wholesale at the market,” he told me after taking half a bottle on credit.
I decided not to go to school on Tuesday, the market day at Mwisho wa Lami and, early that morning, I booked space and paid one of the boys to write a signpost at my shade.
I was riding back home to pick the jericans when I received an SMS from our HM: Staff meeting at 11.00 a.m. Don’t miss.
Having never missed a staff meeting, I decided not to attend that one. I set up shop by 10 a.m. The only problem was the boy who had written the name of my business.
In poor handwriting and mixture of small and capital letters, he had written: MafuTaa HoleCellars.
Just a few metres from me was Mrs Atika, who was selling fresh vegetables. By noon, seven customers had bought from her. I had received none.
Lutta was at the livestock section, and he passed by after the livestock market closed. “Dre, ukiwa hapa, nani atatoa ma-vocabulary kwa mkutano?”
He took me to lunch at Kasuku Hotel and, as we ate Karanga Ugali, he gave me a few business tips. “Wewe unauzaje mafuta asubuhi na jua linawaka?” he asked me. “Mafuta huuzwa jioni.”
After lunch, we passed by the school just to find out what was happening before we could head back to the market. In the evening, I expected brisk business.
We found the school in silence. All the teachers present were busy at work. When he saw us, the Deputy came from his office to the staffroom, angry.
“You people, where are you from? This school is not a marketplace where you walk in and out as you wish!”
We ignored him. From what we gathered later, Saphire had disappeared without marking his exam papers, and the HM had said the school would not close until those papers were marked.
“Lutta and Dre will prepare Saphire’s class reports once the other teachers are done with marking,” the HM ordered when he came to the staffroom.
“I can’t do anyone’s work before completing mine,” Lutta protested. I also made it clear that I would not touch Saphire’s work.
“I understand you Mwalimu, but this is a crisis,” Juma said.
“No, this thing happens every end of term and action must taken against the real perpetrator of impunity in this school,” Lutta said.
What surprised us was the HM’s assertion that if we refused to follow his instructions, he would be reporting us to TSC for insubordination.
“We are ready for the summons from TSC,” Lutta answered. “But Saphire’s name must top the list.”
“It will be unacceptable to take action against us, yet the real problem is known,” I added.
Following our refusal, the HM gave the work to Raphael, a PTA teacher in our school. I did not care about the HM’s threat, as I will be away next term re-doing my TP, which I failed last year.
I left early to go back to the market but did not sell any kerosene as it rained heavily. As I carried the jericans back home that evening, I wondered whether kerosene was a good business idea after all.