The first time I stood before other students and talked for more than five minutes was in form one when I had to retell a story I had read a year before. Mr. Shem SongoleAkoto, our teacher of English had instructed us a week before to read a story book then narrate the story to the class. When Mr. Akoto instructed you to do something you had to do it promptly. He was a thorough guy.
Having been introduced to reading culture at an early age, I was spoilt for choice which story I would reproduce. In short, I did not need to rush like everyone else to borrow story books to read within the week. I continued with my normal routine. My memory was always loaded with all kinds of stories. This, Mr. Akoto just like my fellows noticed.
On the Monday, the day the narration began, I somehow panicked, but as fate would favor its son, I was not selected to present. It must have been three girls who gave us what they read. One narrated the classic Alibaba and the Forty Thieves while the second one tried to retell Tumbling of Tumbulu. The later created another story with the same title far from what the book contains.
The last one was the straw that broke the camel’s back. She narrated my priority number one story, Kagai and Her Brothers by Francis Imbuga. But haaizuru, I lied to my spirit. The lesson was over after the third narration.
Tuesday came. I had visualized several stories I would narrate with ease. All eyes were set on me after missing on the starting lineup. Mr. Akoto called out Aristotle (that was his pet name of me).
The distance between my desk and the front of the class erased all the stories I had read from my memory. I stood in front pulling to tuck in my short fitting shirt, trying to adjust non-existing tie I ended up buttoning the collar button gazingdreamly at the truss. Remember Amuriodos of 1998 form 1 class truss graffiti stared back at the hopeless soul below about to be fried alive like mafendete.
I rubbed my eyes as if they are the doorway to my confused memory. My fellows were suppressing a laugh. Man I was in shit. Akoto beckoned.
“Aristotle it is your time. We are waiting.”
I squint while looking at the floor and Hooray! I remembered a story that I had read over a year ago. The story was titled Bonolo and the Peach Tree. I cannot remember the author. It must be an author from either Botswana or Zimbabwe. NadineGordimer or someone else but it is in a Southern Africa setting.
The class listened for over an hour as I animatedly retold the story. I received a clatter of claps from my fellows afterwards. They should have given me a standing ovation. Buthaaizuru.
Above all I got that rare slow motion nod combined with a wide smile from Mr. Akoto. He congratulated me in French. I can’t remember the exact words. French then was some nice melodious Greek gibberish to my ears.Few years ago I sat for French exam albeit for beginners and passed averagely. I mean just enough score to avoid retake. You understand that magic 40%
The story narration due to some strange reasons ended with me. This, Akoto never told us why. He may have seen how I was covered with sweat to introduce my story and how I struggled to Anglicize my vernacular village language and decided not to torture another soul in form one East.
Guys, sometimes it is very difficult to tell a story and hold your audience this far. Kudos to you my unintended reader. More difficult it is even when in form one you are among the smallest in a class that boasts of big boys and girls whose appearance would scare the proud petit school head girl to politely call them out:Please kujeninjemurokotetakatakani time ya manual work. And now,put on my shoes, stand before them and narrate a story in English while the real English man in black skin is listening.
Many of you can relate that time you had to speak to a crowd and while standing before them you realize even your sight begin failing. You try out the Kibaki style of just concentrating to the script but you realize the voice has gone for a walk far into the deep woods. You begin feeling so helpless, yet you had adequately prepared. You now feel so inadequate.
Probably you and Iare not aware we are suffering from Imposture Syndrome. This is when you are equipped to do a certain task and very ready for it but some moments to it a terrifying fear creeps in and you begin underrating yourself. Your shortcomings begin eating at you. You begin doubting your abilities. The thinking how you will be perceived negatively blow you from your feet. The once confident person panics because of Imposture Syndrome.
Imposture Syndrome explains why a smart, bright and adequately prepared student opts to steal exam. It reveals why a politician with a clean development record still has to bribe the electorate during campaigns to gain more confidence of getting their votes en masse.
But how do you overcome this temporary though destructive condition? Check out my next article on How to Overcome Imposture Syndrome.
(It is now slightly over 10 years since the demise of Mr. Shem Akotobut the story and his literary prowess are immortal).
The story above is adapted from my autobiography: Educating a Rich Child – From Scaring Squirrels to Building Corporates.