As I entered the gate, I felt some goose bumps! My mind raced back 26 years ago when I was a student. I saw myself as a form one, serving others at table, at form two working as a sacristan and later as head student.
Memories of us running through the corridors, scrubbing the floor of the ablution block, and sliding on the rails as we went down the staircase at break time were rekindled.
I felt nostalgic as I vividly visualized my rector, mentor, and friend, the late Fr Gabriel Okolla Cowelle in a cassock – him of fond memories — walking around the school as he used to. The six-foot tall and dark Fr Okolla was a no nonsense man. He kept us on our toes.
As we strolled around the school, I could remember him yelling from one corner of the compound, “Vijana! What are you doing there?”
Fr Okolla hated idle sitting, what the students termed ‘collecting blood’. You had to be on your toes! Dressing smartly was not an option; the hawk-eyed priest would spot you from afar if you had not tucked in your shirt or your necktie was hanging loosely.
Sainty, as we used to call it, is the place where I learnt a few values in life: sharing, service to others, time keeping, and prayer.
As we sat down to interview the rector, Fr Ben Didacus Opiyo ‘Abelo’ who was a class ahead of me as a student, we recalled our days at the school.
Who would have imagined that Abelo would be sitting on the rector’s chair? This is the same office where Fr Okolla once caned us thoroughly with Abelo and now he is the rector!
A reunion with my old cook, Alex Ogalo Ayieke whom we had nicknamed Alek was just as exciting. Alek would serve us with ugali and omena on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We had rice and beef only on Sundays for lunch and tea and bread at 4pm.
Boys will always be boys and I recall some students ‘going for Opa’. You would sneak into the kitchen and have the cook scoop a jug of githeri for you and you would have to hurriedly take it a dark, tiny room attached to the kitchen.
Woe unto you if Fr Okolla caught you. It meant automatic expulsion.
I will never forget the day the rector caught a student sneaking in from cross country with half a sack of avocadoes meant to spice up his githeri. He was forced to eat them raw at the assembly ground.
Since its foundation in 1982 by Archbishop Zacchaeus Okoth, Sainty has produced a number of prominent personalities. It was in this academic giant where Larry Madowo, the famous TV presenter went to school. It is here where he wore a white shirt, black trousers and a black tie.
Others include: Ambassador Peter Miyai, a senior attaché at the Kenyan Embassy in Washington DC; Dr Wire Weda, who works at Central Bank; Engineer Alloyce Godia, a consultant for Rwanda Government; the Principal of St Mary’s Teachers Training College-Bura, Mr Dennis Ombati, and many priests.
We are who we are today, thanks to this great school that moulded us.