Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The School Bus

The School Bus

            I was sitting on the veranda, solemnly contemplating the first brandy of the day, when round the corner came Khondwa in a dusty disheveled school uniform, and plonked himself dejectedly onto a wobbly cane chair. ‘Hullo Grandpa,’ he grunted. ‘What are you doing here?’
          ‘I was about to ask you the same question!’ I exclaimed. ‘As far as I know you’re supposed to be in Ndola! You know it’s costing your parents a small fortune to send you to that Prestige Faculty Secondary School! So now what have you done? What are you doing back here?’
          ‘I thought I’d get more sympathy from you, Grandpa. Everybody says you’re a bit of a delinquent.’
          ‘Don’t try to soft-soap me,’ I snarled. ‘That’s why your mother was so keen to send you to this PF Secondary School, so you don’t end up like me. What has happened? Have you been expelled?’
          ‘It all started with the school bus.’
‘School bus? School bus? What are you talking about? Did you try to steal the school bus?’
          ‘We don’t have a school bus.’
          I was so irritated I poured myself another glass of brandy. ‘So how did you get into trouble over a non-existent school bus?’
          ‘It all started last term,’ he replied calmly, ‘when we prefects all had a meeting and decided that the school needed a school bus. So we all went to see the headmaster, Mr Chumbu Mushololwa, and told him we had decided that the school should buy a bus.’
          ‘And you were the ringleader?’
          ‘I was elected as the spokesman, if that’s what you mean.’
          ‘So I suppose the headmaster just told you that there was no money, and a school bus was out of the question.’
          ‘Not at all. He said that the PF was a democratic institution, and it was good that we were coming up with our own ideas for improving the school. But the only problem was that there was no money. But he said he would appreciate our help in solving the problem. So he appointed us as the school’s Transport Committee, with the task of finding out the level of enthusiasm for a school bus, and if necessary to raise the money to buy one.’
          ‘But why were you so keen to get a bus? Or was it just a political gambit to show that the prefects had more ideas and ability than the headmaster?’
          ‘What an old cynic you are, Grandpa! Without a bus we had all sorts of problems. The local day-scholars had transport problems and most of them needed a school bus. But worst of all we had no bus for school trips. Our Debating Society couldn’t visit other schools for debating contests. We couldn’t go on educative trips to visit factories or mines or council chambers, let alone development projects. All our lessons were out of the textbooks, but we could never see anything in practice. With our own bus we would be able to take better control over our own curriculum, and find out how the world really works!’
          ‘Hmm,’ I said. ‘And did you persuade the other students and their parents that the school needed a bus? Did you manage to collect the money?’
          ‘Oh yes. We launched an enormously successful Christmas campaign. We found that all the parents were very supportive. By the time we came back to school a couple of weeks ago we had collected rather more than K300,000, enough to buy a new 26 seater.’
          ‘So have you bought the bus?’
          ‘That’s where the problem came in,’ replied Khondwa sadly. ‘Immediately we got back to school Mr Mushololwa called the TC into his office and told us to hand over the money to him, since only he could legally buy a vehicle on behalf of the school.’
          ‘I suppose that was true enough.’
          ‘But then he said that buying a bus was merely a recommendation to him, and he would have to put this recommendation to the school’s board of governors, bearing in mind that the school also had other transport problems.’
          ‘So what did you say to that?’
          ‘We said that all of the boys and their parents would be very annoyed if they heard that their demand for a bus was not to be respected, and if all the money we had collected was used for something else. But he told us that according to the terms of reference of the TC, the demand for a bus was a only recommendation to him personally, and if members of the TC leaked their recommendation to other students then this would be a breach of their loyalty to the headmaster, warranting instant expulsion.’
          ‘So did anyone on the TC blab?’
          ‘We were all too scared,’ admitted Khondwa.
          ‘How pathetic,’ I sneered.
          ‘Everything was quiet for about a week,’ continued Khondwa. ‘Then the rumour went round that the headmaster had been given the money, but was refusing to buy the bus.’
          ‘Then there was a riot?’
          ‘Still everything remained quiet. Then two days later, the headmaster drove into the school in his new Mercedes E250. That same night a group of boys gently rolled the car onto its side, and put a match to the fuel line. It lit up the sky something marvelous!’
          ‘So you’ve been expelled!’
          ‘The entire school has been expelled! Now we all have to apply for re-admission.’

          ‘Very good,’ I laughed. ‘Now I see you were right, the school bus has improved your understanding of how the world really works! I always knew that the PF would give you a good education!’


  1. Hmmmm:) I love this. Our people are getting a crush course in politics. We have to thank the government:):)