I write this story with a lot of disappointment, frustrations and sadness in my heart. I just wanna scream at the top of my voice and say, it is such a shame my fellow Africans!! Due to the nature of this story, I am going to divide it into two parts, so that I can make it as detailed as it can be.
Early this year, a Norwegian friend Kristin* approached me and asked me to help her clarify some information from a family that has been asking her for some financial assistance and I did volunteer to assist her. Kristin tells me she was in Kenya about 10 years back and met this lady by the name Akelo and though they haven´t been in constant communication, she remembers her quite well.
“We have been sending each other emails once or even twice a year. However, towards the end of last year, she frequently sent me emails and asked me to give her my number which I did, and so she sends me texts once in a while. In November, she started asking if I could assist her pay for her daughters school fees and she even sent me the fee structure, which I have with me as an email attachment. If you don´t mind, please gather for me this information, I would love to assist her, but I just want to be sure about this. I have been told of many cases that have been fake and I am very careful about assisting people these days.” Said Kristin.
Truth be told, Norwegians are very generous people and that´s why all the time there are number of initiatives going around to help the African continent. In our first teaching session as FK participants, we met these Norwegians kids aged between 14 to 18 years and I remember we asked them about their perception on Africa. These are some of the answers we received “Africa is very poor and so are Africans. They are always begging and they do not have enough to eat. They suffer from many diseases and some of the kids sleep in camps. Africans are always fighting and African leaders are corrupt.” Then one said, “ Africans are con people and some steal a lot especially when you go to Nairobi.”
I agree with these kids, because these are vices and negative traits that unfortunately describe who we are as Africans and of course media is largely to blame, so I take the blame too. But you know what, a few Africans have worked hard to taint the image of the African continent. When you live in the diaspora, then you realise some people don´t even bother to ask your name twice, all they are interested in is where you come from. I have witnessed this quite a number of times and that is why I am writing this as a very frustrated Kenyan.
So this Kenyan Lady Akelo has been working in coalition with her daughter to swindle Kristin Kshs. 70,957 in the name of financial assistance to pay school fees. According to the emails that were all forwarded to me and even the text messages, Akelo says her daughter Queenella is in form three at Nyakachi Girls High School and was to resume school on 4th January. Queenella writes this mail as a reminder to ask Kristin to hasten her help. This is a copy pasted extract:
How are you going on? I hope that you are okey,me too plus mum,she is atleast now i was really surprised to find my mum in this condition but i thank God that my mum is alivel.
We have closed schol and back on 4th of january 2011.The school is fine it has been raining and now it has gone down atleast. The report books were not given untill we open school becoz it has been a short time we just went back after the form fours exams and started ours after. We just closed the school i know that i’m in top five as usual.
Otherwise whats up? I´m wondering that you are so quiet please just try and break the silent.I’m in our Township here in Homabay, i’m meeting my classmates and i have seen them and I’m almost going back home so i have decided to send you the fee structure and to break the silence, visiting will be on 26th of March 2011.God bless you i would be very greatful to hear from you,it’s queenella i wish you a happy christmas and happy new year. alot of greetings from mum i left her at home bye we love you. hoping to hear from you soon reply in mummy’s phone i dont think if i will be back in town soon. coz it’s far and expensive. Queenella.
I check the fee structure, and I doubt it immediately. It only indicates the school name and form three without any contact information or even a stamp. So I ask Kristin if I could get the telephone to this school but she informs me that, the last time she asked for the school contacts, Quennella informed her that the school was being relocated and that they were no telephone numbers and address. Ok, this sounded very fishy to me.
Determined to help
Kristin determined to help, goes to the directories and Internet search and comes back to me with a list of telephone numbers under
Nyakach Girls High School. I try my best to call the numbers and none seems to go through! She comes with another option of asking Queenella to send her any mobile numbers from her teachers. She accepts and texts her two mobile numbers of which seem not to work as well (The number you have dialed is temporarily out of service). In her text, Queenella quotes Mrs. Liz Mubuwa, Mr.Oketch and Mr.Obura as some of her teachers and continues to say, “We have many teachers because we have different subjects and our Principal is Mrs. Odhiambo.”
So when all our efforts to reach these teachers fail, we decide to call The Ministry of Education in Nairobi so as to see if we could get any help on how to get to Nyakach Girls. In Nairobi, I introduce myself and explain why I need to get to Nyakachi and I am then connected to two people before I am given the telephone number to the Provisional Education offices in Nyanza. I call Nyanza and again another long process, from one department to another and I am really patient. Here, they give me the same numbers that I had earlier tried but in vain, so I explain that my case is urgent and I really need to get to that school. I ask if I could get the Principals number and I am advised to call after 10 minutes which I do and I get a mobile number.
This Principal tells me she is no longer at Nyakach but there is a new Principal and she gives me the number to this new Principal. I hung up and call this new Principal. I am so tired of doing this work but I see Kristins determination so I keep on. When she finally picks up, I start the whole process of introducing myself and why I have been looking for Nyakach Girls.
The first incident, her name differs from the one we were given by Queenella. However, I am still determined to get more info, I ask about the form three school fees structure and the figures too differ greatly. Queenella quotes Kshs. 70,957 and this Principal quotes Kshs.32,000. Then I give her Quenalla´s full names and ask her if she has a student by that name.
“I am new in this school and I cannot tell you that I know all the students here but if you can hold on, then I can confirm that from the form three teachers at the staffroom.” She said as she took her steps to the staff room.
I hear her ask aloud if there is a student by these names unfortunately the teachers respond with a frantic No! I also ask her to confirm to me about the other three teachers and suprisingly, there are no teachers by those names. So I ask her if there could be any other Nyakach Girls High School in Sondia, Nyanza, and she replies, “ As far as I know, there is only one Nyakach Girls High in Kenya.”
So now we confirm that Quenella does not exist in Nyakach Girls High School, the fee structure is fake, fake names for her teachers and basically the whole information is fabricated! Disappointed as we are, we still continue our search to gather the truth, read the whole story on Tuesday –What a shame Kenyans!! *(Part 2)