I joined Egerton University two years after leaving high school in 2002. I arrived in Nakuru town in the middle of a dry dusty season in August ready with my Post Bank Pass book to check whether my HELB loan was in the account before proceeding to Njoro Campus for registration. Since this was the first bank account to ever have, I was feeling as if I was among the few sophisticated individuals in Kenya. When I got into the bank, I found other freshmen who had come earlier waiting for the confirmation of their loan status in their accounts. They were noisy and excited to join and experience campus life. The life they had only been reading in newspapers and watching in televisions.
Once in the bank lobby, a beautiful teller collected our passes on a first come first serve basis. If your pass came back with an “X” inscribed on it, then that was an indication that there was no money in the account. But if it came back with a tick on it, then it indicated that there was money. I waited with bated breath as names of those who came before me were called. Some celebrated after getting positive results while others were crestfallen after getting negative results.
At the lobby, I waited patiently for my name to be read out. “What will I do if the money is not in the account?” that was the question that kept on ringing in my mind since I had only five thousand shillings in my pocket. This was the money my dad had given me as pocket money knowing very well that the HELB loan will cater for my tuition and hostel fees. I watched many of the students strut about importantly after getting positive results. My eyes were riveted to the female students. There were those urban ones with pale faces and sharp chins, dragging suitcases like carcasses. There were those local ones with tight smiles and tighter skirts. The slim ones and the ones whose waistlines were slowly going south. The friendly ones and the ones who regard friendliness with disdain.
My concentration on the ladies was cut short when my name was read out. I quickly shot to the counter, elbowing out anybody on my way. My blood almost froze after my eyes came into contact with a big “X” inscribed on my pass book. My head started spinning as I thought of the next course of action to take. As the other students who had gotten their loans were celebrating, heading towards Njoro Campus for registration, I contemplated going back home. I immediately knew that my long awaited trip to Njoro Campus had started off on a wrong footing.
After encouraging myself that it’s better to try than give up along the way, I joined other students and took a matatu heading towards Njoro Campus. With no money for registration, I knew it would take a miracle for me to register successfully. But if miracles still do happen, why should I be pessimistic?
The campus was filled with many freshmen from around the country. Nairobi, Mombasa, Kakamega, Eldoret, Kisumu, and other towns; it was a seething pot of various cultures. It was an exciting moment and place to be. A fountain where intellectual greenhorns had come to quench their academic thirst. “Welcome to Egerton University” were the words that came from an usher who directed me towards the graduation square where registration was taking place