Kaaga Girls : Tales from my High School

I cannot be the only one heartbroken that Kaaga Girls High School aka KG did not make it to the top 100 in the country, in last years’s KCSE exam! 🙁 For four years I wore green uniform and tried to keep off the grass that grew on the well manicured lawns of Kaaga girls. I sat for Maths CATs on Friday mornings and ate Githeri on Tuesdays evenings. I took cold showers at 5:00AM in the morning (how did one EVER do that?!) and attended prep till 9:15 in the evening.

I am a proud alumni of Kaaga Girls High school, the school that has contributed a big chunk to who I am today. One of the notable alumni of this great school in Meru County, is Prof. Leah Marangu the first woman to head a University in Kenya. And of course my classmate from Form 1 to Form 4, Kingwa Kamenchu..

Present day Kaaga “Ngaos” | Photo courtesy of Fromtheirperspective.org

Here is what I fondly recall about Kaaga Girls, where I studied from 1997, to become a ‘millennium candidate’ in 2000.

Ntong’o :
Ntong’o. That was what we called our headmistress, Mrs. Gichoga. Ntong’o was the ultimate iron lady. Think Martha Karua. But taller. She carried around her, an air of style and class and authority. If you were walking along the pavement and you spotted her walking towards you, then your uniform had better be in impeccable condition and your hair neatly held in a bun….Otherwise, it was more prudent for you to change direction and avoid meeting her altogether, lest you earned yourself a punishment or a bashing like kijana of the Toss ad. Hehe.

Her title was not Headmistress. Not even  Principal. She had risen through the ranks to earn herself the title Chief principal.

Mrs Gichoga was a woman of nyadhi (refer to The River and The Source). She was tall and had a distinct graceful walking style. She never wore a cardigan, no matter how cold it was. On the same note, she frowned upon girls wearing more than one sweater to beat the July chill. She made them remove the extra cardigans. Right there. During assembly. ^_^

I loved it when she addressed us. I loved listening to her speak. “Good morning Ngaos…” , she would start. And proceed to impart on us a lot of wisdom. She would pick random topics and lecture us on the same. Like procrastination. Or relationships. Ntong’o helped shape our idea of relationships with the opposite sex. She told us that girls are more mentally mature than boys of the same age. She emphasized on cleanliness and taught that it was barbaric to tie a sweater around your waist. Ntong’o was a widely travelled lady; and she always let us in on her findings in foreign lands when she came back..

We admired Ntong’o. She inspired us. She was(and still is!) a really classy lady.

The pavement leading to Mrs Gichogas office. We called it “Gichoga Highway”. Only SHE used it! Even to get to her office, you used alternative routes

One more thing. She ensured that we read the newspaper daily. There was a special notice board onto which two newspapers were pinned daily for us to read..

Maths CAT :

To keep our Mathematics perfomance in check, every Friday at 7:30AM , we sat for a Mathematics CAT. At the end of the term, if your average for all maths CATs was below the pass mark, you remained behind for TWO weeks of remedial teaching after the others had closed school.

Now , there was nothing as heartbreaking as watching your colleagues getting all dressed up on closing day , excited to go ho home , with talk of how they had missed their kin and (often nonexistent) boyfriends.

Accrossians :

We had a love-hate relationship with Meru school – the school across. We called them acrossians. And they called us accrossians too. While it was great to have a ‘brother school’ just a stones’s throw away we were sworn competitors when it came to KCSE.

It was Nkubu boys aka Nkuberians , that we fancied though. Not because they were hot. But because they were rumored to have Mocks leakage. ^_^

Mass :

By the virtue of being a Roman Catholic , myself and a ‘privileged’ few attended mass at Meru school. On Sundays you needed not be shown the ‘mass goers’. We looked spick and span while our counterparts who were left to attend the interdenominational service in the school hall let their hair down quite literally and wore their oldest set of uniform – except of course the CU officials.
So on Sundays we mass-goers would gather at the gate for roll call. Mr. Rukunga the YCS patron was always present to identify any foreigners; he was not shy to send them back. He did not buy into the reason some crafty girls gave that they had ‘converted’ to catholism over time even though their school records indicated otherwise. He sent them all back.
At The Meru school hall we would find our column of seats reserved for us. In attendance would also be Kaaga Boys Secondary School aka KB who we often ignored because ‘we were out of their league’. Not my words.

One year , when the previous years’ KCSE results had come out and we had beaten Meru School, we showed up for mass and there were no seats for us. It took the chiding of Father Peter, the priest in charge, for them to get us seats. He told them that only boys and not men, would behave like that. Ouch!

Being a mass goer meant you would often have to carry a letter or bunch of them with you from your schoolmates to their boyfriends across. After mass accrossians would escort us to the gate and they would send us with letters too..

Birdwatching :

This was a technical term referring to watching accrossians through the class windows. It was a preserve for Form 3’s and Form 4’s because their windows were closest to the fence that separated the two schools. It was for the daring though and those who did not belong to the C.U. Or Y.C.S. 🙂

The dormitories :

Our dorms were named after rivers. Thuci is one of those I remember. Officially the oldest dorm or so it seemed, Thuci was for the longest time, infamously referred to as as “the ugly ndukling” (sic) by Ntong’o who made it her business to ensure it was given a smashing make over making it the poshest.

I was in Mara dorm, the furthest dorm from the administration block. We were best in cleanliness and were consistently the best dorm in Science congress. (Understandably?) , we never took any medals home for music festivals..

Boys in Dorm :

A story goes of a Tana dorm member who just didn’t feel like attending prep one evening. Wearing her most ‘sick’ expression she convinced the dorm captain that she really needed to have some rest as she wasn’t feeling too well. Armed with the key, she found her way to dorm. She thought she saw lights on on, one section of the dorm when she was opening but didn’t pay much attention. She must have been whistling to herself as she got in thinking how she was going to have an early night.

What happened next left the poor girl scarred for the rest of the term.

She saw a man, she says, dressed in our school’s uniform escaping through the dorm ceiling. Forgetting her sickness, she ran all the way back to class horrified, on her way, notifying the watchman.

The school watchman, Gatako , swears he didn’t see no one.

Another night, long after the occupants of Thingithu dorm had gone to sleep, a scream cut through the still of the night…

“Girls! WAKE UP!! There ARE boys in dorm!”

It took a couple of hours before Thingithu dorm girls could settle down again and sleep. The boys, this time allegedly two of them, escaped through the ceiling again.

Soon there was a wave of either ghosts or boys rumoured to be in dorms in the dead of the night. Ntong’o was not in the least amused by these happenings. Concerned that her ngaos were starting to suffer from hysteria she declared during assembly one day, that there were NO boys in dorms and those who claimed to see boys in dorm at night were either hallucinating or had invited them! She ordered that each of the 57 girls in Thingithu dorm, ‘the worst hit’, be given a hockey stick. lol. For real.

She said , if there was really an intruder in dorm, the girls were free to clobber him senseless and then call her…to come and see.

Any accrossian or KB alumni reading this ; please confirm if there were mischievous boys who actually crossed over to KG at night…

Outings :

How awesome was it that we were given outings from time to time! On some Saturday afternoons we would be allowed to go for outings. Oh the glory! Madam Gichoga always reminded us that we were the only girls’ school this side of the Sahara, allowed outings and we had better take it as a privilege. There were conditions thus :

  • Do not use public(or even private) transport. Walk.
  • Do not walk alone. Walk in two’s. Three is a crowd!
  • Do not get into a bar. (Duh?!)
  • DO NOT be late. Because if you are, you will be ‘gated’ which basically means you’ll be grounded until further notice.
  • If you were gated then you had to report for roll call every 30 minutes, when the others had left for outings.

TV :

At some point, watching TV in the school hall was banned after 9:30PM.The new youngish school watchman Angel Michael (who was only as angelic as Lucifer’s angels) , was given the task of ensuring this new rule was adhered to. Those of us who watched The Bold and Beautiful could not imagine missing an episode so we’d sneak into the hall and watch it almost on mute so as not to attract the attention of the watchman. One day we were caught though and the watchman took down our names.

Only, the next day when he presented the names to the office, there were no students in the school register going by those names…


Quite a bit has changed in KG since I was there at the dawn of the 21st century. They added an extra stream to make the school a 4 streamed one and Mrs Gichoga left to become TSC commissioner (I hear).

Did I mention she was also an alumni of the school herself? Oh, yes she was. And so is my mother-in-law , another great woman.

To curb birdwatching , the school now has a ‘China wall’ surrounding it (I’m told).

I hope that right about now, the KG class of 2012 are thinking about mole concept and integers , and not too much about the letters they are getting from the boys across.

Long live KG!

PS : Special congratulations to Meru School who ranked 25th in the country in 2011 KCSE!

UPDATE (MARCH 2013) – The 2012 class actually did quite well! They were in the papers! KG is coming back to it’s former glory and I , cannot be prouder.

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