The first time I read the announcement, my stomach started doing summersaults inside my body, and all of a sudden, I really, really, really needed to visit the loo…badly! It always happens when I get excited. You see, at that exact moment, I knew my life would change forever. Yes, I know that may sound dramatic to you, but it‟s true. You don‟t believe me? Let me tell you the story.
My name is George, and I am sixteen years old. Four years ago, my dad passed away, leaving my mum, myself and my 5 sisters alone. Life for us changed very quickly. Mum couldn‟t pay our school fees. We were thrown out of our house and chased away from school. After months of watching mum struggle to make a living, I decided to run away to try and make her life easier.
That is how I ended up in Nairobi, living on the streets and selling peanuts. You see, I wasn‟t always a street boy.
Life on the streets is tough. Danger is always around the corner. Every day is a struggle, and there are days when I have nothing to eat. Have you ever had that feeling of being really, really, really hungry? Imagine that, and multiply it by ten! I tell you, the next time you eat, even if it is just plain bread, it tastes like mandazis…..or pilau…… or beef stew…… or goat fry, or…..hmmm, yummy, there goes my tummy grumbling like a grumpy old woman.
But the worst part of being on the streets is that people are really mean to you. That is why I will always remember Lydia. Every day she would pass me as she went to and from school. She wouldn‟t wind up the car window when she saw me coming. When she bought peanuts, she would hand me the money and not throw it on the ground like some people. Best of all, she always had a smile for me.
The first time Lydia gave me a book, the older boys laughed at me. I didn‟t care; I lost myself in a magical world of adventure. Before long, Lydia was passing on all her old books to me. I was addicted! As soon as I finished a book, I would bury it so that nobody could steal it. Then I would spend the day pretending that I was cheeky Moses running away from school, or an undercover spy on a mission, or part of a secret gang solving mysteries. Imagine, there are over 50 books buried under the mud across the street from South Corner road.
My addiction for books grew. In the early morning, I would start my day removing the njugu newspaper wrappers so that I could read them. Of course I hated having to roll them up again, but I just could not resist the stories.
It was 5:00 am on such a morning, when I read the announcement on a newspaper scrap.
Now accepting entries for ‘Who’s Sharper Now? – Are you a young boy or girl who thinks they can be Victor or Victoria in the new season? First prize is a scholarship to Karinka Secondary and 100,000/=. Auditions to be held at the Studios on 06.06.2011 finals show to be taped thereafter.
In excitement, I jumped up and down, shaking my arms and wiggling my bottom. This was it, I could win Victor, I could be on TV, I could be famous, I could go back to school and win 100,000/=!
I was mid-air, with my bum stuck out and my arms in the air out when I felt a sharp poke in my rib. It was Enos, looking at me as if I had suddenly grown zebra stripes all over my body.
“Have you gone crazy? Why are you doing the lingala in the sky?” I showed Enos the announcement.
“I can do it, I can win this. I just know it!” I continued jumping up and down.
“Now I know for sure. Your brains have poured out of your ears in your sleep,” Enos said, “Have you noticed that we are street boys?”
“So? I don’t know about you, but I know I AM sharp! Besides, do you know how many mandazis 100,000/= can buy!” I joked.
“Well… we still have to find a way to clean you up so they let you in through the door of the studio. Don‟t worry, I have an idea,” said Enos. Two hours later we showed up near the studios scrubbed clean. I was so clean and shiny, Enos said he could see his reflection in my nose.
As we walked in, I started having doubts. There were hundreds of other boys and girls around. Judging by their clothes and the way they talked, I was sure they all went to expensive schools.
Deep inside my heart though, I knew that I had to give this a chance. My brain was sharp. It had to be after all those books I have been reading. Besides this could be my only shot. Plus I would be on TV. National T. I had not even watched TV in years!
Then I noticed two askaris walking towards us. I could sense Enos was starting to get uncomfortable, and realised with a horrible feeling that I recognised one of them. He was the same askari that used to guard the South Corner Mall.
“Weh, chokora, tokeni hapa!,” the askari shouted in our faces, waving his rungu at us.
Just as I was getting ready for a fight, I spotted a familiar face in the crowd. Could it be? It was! It was Lydia‟s mum!
What do you think happens next?
Write your own ending, and send them into us at email@example.com. We will
post the best ones on the reading revolution website for everybody to see.
On June 16th every year, we celebrate the Day of the African Child. This year the theme is ‘all for urgent action in favour of street children.’
George and Enos both live on the streets, and they have a message for you – “Even though
we are street boys, we are still children. Please treat us the way you would like to be treated.”
All of us from Storymoja have a message for you – Keep reading! Reading opens up magical
worlds. Reading is like press ups for the brain. Reading is the secret door that opens up a world of knowledge. Reading is cool….but most of all reading is fun!