High school lesson number one: You don’t need to eat bread at every tea break

In a lot of ways, the plot in Barbara Kimenye’s popular book series – Moses – could have been set in my school. No wonder we loved those books so much.

High school in those days dished out much more than academic certificates – it was an all inclusive holistic life shaping – and how to survive in the harsh outside world.

First off, high school gave us a chance to venture outside the suffocating confines of our village and exposed us to other cultures.

He who doesn’t travel thinks his mother is the best cook.

We got used to weevil-ridden fare in smoky kitchens with sweaty, scowling cooks. In some occasions, we’d catch a whiff of kerosene in the githeri!

The village had embraced us in a loving embrace – then high school ripped us from that comforting embrace to the cruelty of sadistic bullies.

You learn that people can be unkind for no reason.

You learn the world doesn’t owe you a soft landing.

The basics of the social system – elite class, the middle class and the peasants – are first made apparent in high school. One learns there will always be people richer and wealthier, but not necessarily smarter. The grades in class is what mattered.

On money, lessons were served fast and harshly.

What may seem exorbitant to one may turn out to be mere chicken feed to another. In those days, I’d feel rich if my folks and relatives in the village sent me back to school with 500 bob as pocket money – shopping inclusive. Then I’d meet urban kids living like kings with unlimited funding!

High school taught us restraint – one doesn’t need to eat bread with margarine on every break.

The ingenious village kids would often come up with tricks to earn extra income.

I know a lad who cleaned the 4K club rabbit hutches for a fee. Most of the club’s members were averse to the tedious chores. He made a tidy sum after classes.

Another lad made a name as a data entry expert – copy writing notes and long assignments over the weekends. He’d also write fancy, wordy, perfumed letters to pen pals in neighbouring schools for a fee.

The harshest lesson was dished out in form one, second term. I lost a tidy sum of money to con artists at the bus terminus in town on the way to school.

It was the school fees – stashed in my socks. To date, it amazes me how they had realised I had money on me.

Nowadays, luckily, school kids do not have to expose themselves to con artists and pick pockets.

There are a million cashless ways to pay school fees safely and conveniently, from home, office or in between activities on the farm.

Co-op Bank clients have a myriad of options available to easily and safely pay school fees for their kids.

Parents can easily pay school fees through Co-op M-Pesa Paybill 400200, MCo-op Cash, PesaLink or at a Co-op Kwa Jirani agent at the local grocery, pharmacy or supermarket. All one needs is to fill in details of the school’s Co-op Bank account number and the money goes straight to the school’s account.

There’s no need to expose pupils and students to the perils of carrying hard cash.

ALSO READ: https://www.ghafla.com/ke/the-choices-one-makes-on-the-first-week-in-high-school-makes-or-breaks-all-future-prospects/

Surviving Day One of the Nationwide Curfew: How many more till we slay the Covid-19 pandemic?

If we had to tentatively pigeonhole families by grades of general temperament, which one is your family bound to fall in?

The loud and happy? The silent and melancholy? The academics and intellectuals? The perennial party animals? The religious faithful’s?

Well, my family boasts of an eclectic medley of those traits. The good thing, and perhaps the fabric that keeps this unit afloat, is the fact that life hardly has us together.

Father is laid back, and not good at chit chat. With the right crowd – read, colleagues from work – he’d come alive. But then, the fluctuating prices of crude oil and its effects on the world economies isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. He works in the energy sector. At the dinner table, father is content to listen to our chatter.

He’s used to missing most family milestones and important holidays. Though he keeps tabs on our schooling, he’d hardly get past the quarterly term reports. Duty first. A man’s duty is to provide.

On the other hand, mother is the family’s Supreme Leader. The Captain of this ship. She keeps the discipline, or, rather, lack of. She has everything on her fingertips – birthdays, school days, medical appointments, et al. On her personality, she thrives on chit chat. She glows and bubbles when life gifts her with an avid listener. Something that hardly happens on the domestic front.

My twin brother is a lot like me. We’re in the same college, though pursuing different courses. We are on indefinite holiday after campus riots broke out over a comrade’s death a few weeks ago. Did you see the infamous Meru Technical College student who took off in a police truck, sirens blaring? That’s my brother. He’s now a celeb of sorts back in campus.

However, no one had foreseen the effects of the just-declared dusk to dawn curfew.

Father is in a foul mood. He lives for work, and hadn’t expected to be home for an unknown period. His company has had to scale down operations. To make matters worse, some inconsiderate relative had sent him clips of the campus riot, with his son commandeering the police truck. They haven’t spoken since.

But, man, the tension at the living room is almost tangible. What do we talk about? What do we watch on TV? The remote – is it proper to hoard the present day symbol of household authority in the presence of your father? It’s his TV, after all. Thankfully, he seems content poring over old cryptic puzzles.

My brother is keen on making himself as small as possible. He’s glued on his phone, and jumps every time father shifts in his recliner. The police truck ghost shall hang over his head for a long time. To pass time, I help in the kitchen, and no matter how slow we take it, dinner is served early.

Mother leads the grace, and watches everyone make a serving. Then everyone digs in, silent.

After a while, father mumbles something about being full, and starts upstairs. It seem like that’s the cue brother been waiting for. He shuffles off to his room. Mother looks sadly at me, “After all we did today, and they ain’t eating?”

Earlier today, we had spent time at the market, shopping for vegetables. It had been hectic, with hand washing points at every stall. More interesting, none of the women tending the stalls had wanted cash. Everyone asked us to send the payments from M-Pesa straight to their Co-op Bank accounts. Its risky handling cash, as the Covid-19 may be passed on thus.

We didn’t mind, as it’s free. No charges.

“Don’t worry, mum. They’ll be fine tomorrow. It’s been a while since we’ve all been together”, I tell her.

This curfew, so hard on Day 1 – can it end already!


Co-operative Bank education scholarships benefit 7,583 students across the nation

The Board of Directors of the Co-operative Bank is pleased to announce the successful completion of the selection of beneficiaries of this year’s annual intake of 655 gifted but needy students from across the country to join the Cooperative Bank Foundation Scholarship Scheme in 2020.

This year’s intake of 655 Form One beneficiaries stands as one of the largest secondary education scholarship schemes in Kenya today. The program is fully funded by the Bank to the tune of Sh155 million every year.

Of the 655 new scholarships to Form One students, 420 were identified by the bank’s Regional Delegates’ Forums and the remaining 235 scholarships, at 5 per county, awarded by County Governments in all the 47 counties, the bank’s Group Managing Director & CEO, Dr. Gideon Muriuki has said.

Additionally, the bank is educating a total of 177 students, selected from the top performing beneficiaries of the secondary school scholarships, through their entire university education.

Following this year 2020 intake, the Co-operative Bank will have provided full education sponsorship to 7,640 deserving Kenyans, of whom 7,332 will have gone through secondary education and 308 university studies.

The scholarships are awarded on merit to gifted but needy students from all regions of Kenya.

Commenting further on this program, Dr. Gideon Muriuki said, “Our scholarship beneficiaries are selected at the grassroots level by Co-operative Societies across the country through a well-established national delegates system. Co-operative Societies, who are the face of Kenya, identify well-performing students from disadvantaged backgrounds and bring these names into a regional forum where delegates debate and select the most deserving cases. At the bank’s head office, our role is to process payments to the schools and monitor the students’ performance through the four years in secondary school. The top 28 in the Form Four examination each year are granted an additional full scholarship for their university education.”

Commenting on the reason why the bank has chosen education scholarships as its flagship Corporate Social Investment, Dr. Gideon Muriuki observed that education is one of the most expensive items in any household budget and yet has the highest potential to liberate people from poverty.

“Unless corporate institutions and all people of goodwill come together to support initiatives within the education sector, gifted but needy Kenyans will never realize their full potential. Being needy does not mean that one isn’t talented or has no potential. A large number of Kenyans holding positions of responsibility today were educated with loans from the Co-operative Movement.  It is for this reason that the Co-operative Bank, being the premier co-operative institution in Kenya, has taken the lead in this area.”

Co-operative Bank provides full school fees scholarships for the entire four years of secondary education. University scholarships are awarded to the best performing students from each region.

The scholarship program was launched in 2007.

More information on this scholarship program is available from the Branch Manager at your nearest Co-operative Bank branch, or email [email protected] or call 0711 049 475, 020 3276 100 and ask for Co-op Bank Foundation.


Easy steps to withdraw money from a Co-op Bank ATM machine without your ATM card and skip long queues at the bank

You may need to urgently access cash from your Co-op Bank account, but situations may dictate that you pursue other means, besides the conventional withdrawal using your ATM card.

The unfortunate loss or misplacement of the Coop Visa Card is not the sole reason.

You may need to withdraw sums of cash higher than the maximum daily amount the bank allows over an ATM machine. Depending on the day and season, an over-the-counter withdrawal may be a headache – long queues – and, sometimes, urgency of the business at hand.

Co-op Bank clients have the liberty to make easy card-less withdrawals at the ATM, by linking their phones in a few steps:

On the MCo-op Cash App:

  1. Access MCo-op Cash by clicking on the app.

(Alternatively, dial USSD code *667# on your phone)

  1. Enter your MCo-op Cash PIN
  2. Select “Withdraw Cash”
  3. Select “ATM”
  4. Choose bank account to withdraw from
  5. Enter Amount to withdraw –

*(Min Kes500 and Max Kes40,000 per withdrawal but up to Kes200,000 a day)

  1. Confirm transaction
  2. An SMS with a one-time PIN will be sent to your phone. This is the PIN you will use at the ATM – *PIN expires in 30 Minutes

On the ATM machine:

  1. Click the “MCo-op Cash withdrawal” button on the top right corner of the ATM screen
  2. Input Telephone Number
  3. Input One Time PIN provided via SMS
  4. Enter amount to withdraw same as input on phone
  5. Receive Cash from ATM Dispenser

Important things to remember during a card-less withdrawal at the Co-op Bank ATM:

  • Minimum withdrawal amount is Kes500 and Max Kes40,000 per single withdrawal transaction.
  • The maximum daily withdrawal amount is Kes200,000. (A client may make multiple withdrawal transactions – but not to exceed the daily maximum amount).
  • The one-time PIN sent to your phone expires in 30 Minutes. This is the PIN you’ll feed to the ATM. (It’s advisable to start the transaction while at the ATM machine’s actual location).



The bespectacled, mean clerk with a tight hair bun at the local coffee factory did finally retire….

My heart breaks each time I walk past the eternally-leaning, wooden gate to our local coffee factory. The place is deserted. The coffee bean drying terraces are overgrown with weeds, the sorting sheds have leaking roofs. The only thing that works is the gigantic, trusty coffee-weighing machine, albeit dusty and a little rusty around the edges.

But it works just fine. Weight, check your weight!

There’s not even a drowsy watchman in sight. This is a community-owned relic, alright.

What breaks the heart is the change of times. Way back, coffee would revolve around our lives. No, that’s too modest. Coffee used to be life. We’d eternally slave, toil and break our backs for this produce. The family would bond over coffee labor – the folks may fight all night, but unite in the morning for the cherry picking.

If you wanted to find favor in the eyes of your father, learn the basics of coffee farming. The tedious, extremely draining pruning season. Immediately after, break your back hauling sacks of manure for each stem. Oh, the pains of this love stretches from here to Timbuktu!

However, we didn’t have to wait till December – for the annual coffee bonus – to see the fruits of our labor.

School Opening Days.

We didn’t report to school on opening days. We’d spend the first day at the local coffee factory. We’d make a line, almost a mile long, from the clerk’s office. We had to line up to get factory chits to pay our school fees. Somehow, schools then had a fees check off system with the coffee society – based on individual coffee yields – and number of kids in school.

The factory clerk then (now mercifully retired), had heavy horn-rimmed glasses and a mean sense of humor. She enjoyed emotional torture, measured out in painful little doses.

Hii mwaka mliweka mbolea kwa shamba?

Why should I pay your school fees and you always come last in class?

(At this point, you are tempted to remind her it’s your coffee, not hers). But, of course, you do not.

The clerk would punch in numbers on a huge calculator, and lean back on her chair. You’d hold in your breath and wait, a little like Judgment Day – heaven or hell?

Kwenu mko wangapi primary school?” She’d ask.

Your mind is adrift. You are wondering if the tight bun on her hair doesn’t cause some considerable level of pain and discomfort. No worry, she doesn’t need your answer, anyways.

She punches off some more numbers in that huge calculator, then tears off a sheet from her ledger, and hands it over. That’s the chit that pays your school fees. Thou shall not lose, soil, tear, fray or wet it – there wasn’t any back up – save for a faded carbon copy at the mean clerk’s office!

Modern times, things have turned out better, especially for Co-op Bank customers. Paying school fees doesn’t have to be so tedious and, in some cases, traumatizing – not every family had huge tracts of land dedicated to the coffee crop.

Co-op Bank clients get to easily pay school fees direct to a school’s Co-op Bank account, via M-Pesa.

This is the simple process:

  1. Go to the M-Pesa menu, go to Paybill.
  2. Select business number and fill in 400222
  3. For Account prompt, write ‘schoolcode#studentnumber’
  4. Confirm details, and send.

Paying school fees doesn’t have to include lining up at the coffee factory clerk’s office to get produce chits. Pay through Co-op Bank’s M-Pesa Paybill number – faster, safer and more convenient.


Did you know that the sound of an ATM machine dispensing cash ranks just below soul music in therapy? Find out now!

Kkkkkkkrrrrrrrr! Kkkkkkkrrrrrr!

If therapy can be wholly packaged in a sound, then that sound would be the metallic sound an ATM machine makes, as it dispenses money. No other sound invokes a more pleasant feeling in a present-day human being. A heady cocktail of feelings -pleasant relief, accomplishment and reward.

It’s a little close to the feeling one gets in a restaurant, when you spot a waitress making her way to your table, with your food. Mighty hard to describe.

Well, turns out the ATM machine has been at it since1967. The first one was inspired by soft drink and chocolate dispensers, and credited to a man called John Shepherd-Barron. It’s clear that the early and subsequent ATM engineers were a brilliant lot – and could have easily figured how to silence the cash machine – yet, they didn’t.

That sound, therefore, is deliberate. Therapy. An entire month spent rising at the crack of dawn to get to work, and retiring late. You deserve this currency – that certainly makes it the sound of therapy. By any means, you deserve to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

The early ATMs were slow and clumsy, though. Gigantic, and very basic. They could only discharge preset amounts with biscuit-sized, prior coded cards. The concept for the modern ATM card, though, didn’t come from the inventor of the machine.  Adrian Ashfield came up with the basic idea of a card combining the key and user’s identity.

A few decades down, the machine has advanced tremendously. The feelings at the point of use are pretty much standard from the time of invention, but the services have tripled. They are sophisticated, getting smarter – and safer.

Co-operative Bank takes pride and effort to avail their clients the latest and most advanced ATMs across the country.

At all Co-op Bank ATMs, there’s a variety of services clients can access:

  1. The conventional cash withdrawal using the Co-op Visa Card.
  2. It’s easy to check your real-time bank account balance, or if you so desire, get a mini-statement in a few moments.
  3. A client can easily pay utility bills at any Co-op bank ATM. These utility bills include KPLC power bills, water bill, DSTV subscription, et al. It saves valuable time that would be spent lining up for hours in offices.
  4. Co-op Bank ATMs also enable cash withdrawal from M-Pesa using the agent number 472472. This is very useful, especially when travelling. If you may arrive late at a destination to find M-Pesa agent outlets are closed, fret not. The Co-op Bank ATM comes in handy.
  5. All Co-op Bank ATMs also enable card-less withdrawals. In the case that your Co-op Visa Card is not on your person – perhaps forgotten at home or elsewhere – you can still withdraw money using the MCo-op Cash App on your phone.

Aside: It’s the modern version of a tradition in the Maasai tribe. Lanky, fearless Morans would risk their lives to impress the ladies – hunting lions for sport. Take this to the bank: The sound of an ATM sub-consciously endears you to a potential partner. It’s a sign of long term stability, a major plus.

Take advantage of the seamless network of Co-op Bank ATMs in your hood, and further on across the country for easy access to your account funds. Remember you can still do a lot even without your Co-op Visa Card on your person.

Happy festive season, and enjoy responsibly.



The easiest way to handle random party moments this December, with MCo-op Cash

There’s a reason festive December is the most loved time of the year. This month rolls out unexpected good moments like life depends on it. But, hey, sometimes it may depend on it.

Its December, crazy things happen. One minute you’re minding your own business – picking milk at the neighborhood kiosk, the next you are rolling with your childhood buddy in his new ride. Its party after party, eight in the morning. Pardon the bathroom slippers.

A lot of urban peeps retire to their rural homes. The village ain’t kind to the urban dweller. And that’s how it should be. Our family’s hunter has to return home loaded, after an entire year hunting in the city. Hence, you have the obligation to buy the Billy goat for the annual Christmas feast, besides several chicken.

It’s not lost on you that on the way home, everyone had called you, “….Ukifika Mwea niletee mchele ya Pishori….”

The other workplace tradition: December salaries are paid early. Ahem, need I say more, brethren?

We lose our minds, running riot in town. But its ok, its December. This is the time to bond, to make new friends and re-connect with old acquaintances.

In the midst of this festive melee, it’s a refreshing thought to know you have a friend who’s got your back. The Co-operative Bank mobile banking service – MCoop Cash – has got your back.

You may have left your wallet in the house, but your phone hardly leaves your hand. This is when mobile banking comes in handy. It’s a big party-pooper telling your gang you need to rush home to pick your wallet – reputation is at stake – as they may think you want to bounce.

MCo-op Cash app allows you to conveniently do most of your banking needs via the app, or by just dialing *667#. It’s a simple process to make a withdrawal and treat your family to a dinner, from the comfort and convenience of the dinner table. Its super-fast, discreet and very safe – no one need know you are making a withdrawal.

Besides basic withdrawals, a coop bank clients enjoys a lot more with MCo-op Cash, on his phone. It’s a song to send money instantly to a Co-op bank account via the app. You want to help out a buddy sending you a drunken SOS? Just send directly to his account.

It’s debatable among Co-op Bank clients, on which is most influential among the features available on MCo-op Cash. One feature always wins. The mobile loan feature.

Applying for a mobile loan is easy and fast through the app. Alternatively, one can dial *667# and access the menu. The loan is fast and perfect for emergency situations. This completely snubs out traditional paperwork needed to secure a fast loan.

It’s a tall order outlining the convenience afforded by MCo-op Cash. For instance, paying utility bills has never been easier – power bills, TV subscriptions, water bills, et al. The days of traversing the estate looking for a shop selling power tokens are long gone. Take advantage of MCo-op Cash app.

Are you making a land purchase? Buying a new ride for your family? It’s as easy as ABC to pay for this, via the app. The MCo-op Cash app has a menu which hosts PesaLink. Through PesaLink, one can instantly send money to any account in any local bank. It’s the most affordable and safest mode of money transfer.

Oh, did you know checking your bank account balance via MCo-op Cash app is absolutely free? Now you know.

Have a fantabulous December. Have fun and enjoy responsibly.


Enjoying Christmas holidays in the village to the fullest, as Co-op kwa Jirani demystifies banking!

Have you ever wondered why everyone in urban areas crave their rural default setting once Christmas comes around?

Crazy work schedules in town. Long hours in traffic. Difficult bosses. Extreme deadlines. The one thing that keeps most people going from New Year to the end, is the lingering thought of travelling to their rural homes over Christmas.

The Christmas holiday feel is always about family. It’s not so much about travel, gorging on medic-forbidden junk food or splashing on expensive liquor. It’s about re-connecting and bonding with blood, for blood is always red, and thicker than water.

Shaggs is a reality check. Walk around barefoot. Get soaked in rain using banana leaves in lieu of an umbrella. Traditional honey beer with unconfirmed levels of potency. Re-connect with a childhood flame. Flaunting new ‘Christmas clothes’ – it’s a thing in the village.

And, good lord, keep tabs on your fading mother tongue. So much for hilarious memes and threads on Twitter.

Years back, a few days in the village would be a headache. One would lose touch with friends and work colleagues. Sometimes, days would pass before a current newspaper crosses your path. Simple banking procedures would be a hassle involving a day’s travel to the nearest town.

The Co-op Kwa Jirani concept by Co-op Bank has greatly demystified banking. These are banking services yanked from conventional banking halls into an everyday business premise in average market places. Being in your rural village doesn’t need to be a worry when the bank closes in the evening – in a town 50 miles off.

Your favorite grocer can still be your Co-op Kwa Jirani agent. Distributed countrywide, these agents have the ability to offer just about every banking service you’d need in a main bank.

A client can withdraw money. Christmas comes with feasts and treats – you don’t need to carry home sums of money in cash. You can withdraw just the amount you need conveniently at the Co-op Kwa Jirani Agent at the market center.

All other services besides withdrawals: Checking the account balance (especially after word leaks that end-of-year bonuses have been released) is easy enough at Co-op kwa Jirani outlets. The paying of utility bills is straight forward, fast and convenient at the same outlets – power bills, water bills, cable TV subscriptions, school fees, name it.

All of these are available at Co-op Kwa Jirani outlets.

For years, most farmers would receive their annual bonuses for their produce in December. Tea and coffee farmers, especially. In my native Meru, for instance, the annual bonus would be paid a day before Jamhuri – and our folks would receive it in cash at the local factory. Well, a surreal carnival feel would grip the village after that, and most folks would be broke by Christmas.

With a Co-op Kwa Jirani agent nearby, any extra cash chanced upon can be easily deposited – Free of Charge – which deviates unnecessary use or loss. There’s January to contend with, remember. It’s a nice idea to deposit at the outlets for later withdrawal.

Take advantage of the Co-op Kwa Jirani agent near you, and have a memorable, responsible holiday.