High School Chronicles: My First Nerve-wracking Public Speaking Experience

I was generally a shy kid. Unless I was around close friends and family, speaking was something I had to think about – never mind public speaking.

I dislike being in the spotlight, but I have met introverts who’ve managed to excel in related engagements – teaching, preaching and singing.

It happened during my first week in high school.

Now, oblivious to me – my admission had elicited a lot of interest. I was the poster boy for the classic ‘you-can-achieve-anything’ narrative.

I had attended a rural day-primary school, running a mile to and fro on a daily basis, and, yet – managed to secure entry marks to a prestigious national school.

My grades had also qualified me for a four-year scholarship, thanks to the Co-op Bank Foundation.

The school held an assembly once a week – on Fridays’.

First, I was shocked by the sheer number of students. Rows and rows of neatly starched collars, blue blazers and khaki trousers.

The captains stood in a separate line on the right-hand side, with their emblazoned notebooks. I felt as insignificant as a grain of sand on a long beach.

The principal’s main topic was, of course, us – the new students. I did not pay much attention to the speech. I was busy scanning the students, trying to see if there’s anyone familiar.

At some point, the boy next to me elbowed me in the ribs: “Hey, the principal is calling your name…” I was stunned.

I slowly made my way to the front. I could feel the inquisitive bore of a thousand eyes on the back of my neck. I approached the podium. It was all-glass, much like we had at our local Catholic church.

My exact thought at the moment was that everyone would see if I peed on myself!

The Principal hands over the (mic), and says: “Introduce yourself, master…”

I was lost. First, I didn’t have a clue on the line of conversation before I was summoned. What do I talk about? Will they not laugh at my village accent?

Ha, I remembered that am the Firstborn Son of Nkanata, and Great-great-great grandson of Field Marshal Mwariama – the famed Mau Mau fighter.

“My name is…… “

I couldn’t go on. I was visibly shaking, heart racing a thousand beats to a minute.

Suddenly, I was aware of the silence – pin drop silence. I wasn’t a famous guy in class or anything. In the two days we’d been there, I had hardly made any friends or spoken much to anyone. I had largely kept to myself.

“Just tell them where you come from, why you are here and what you want to be in future…” The Principal says.

I do not remember much, other than racing through the particulars of my locality, an aspiration to be a top performer in class and that other surreal dream to be a software engineer.

The former remained constant throughout my high school stint, but the latter would mutate several times. Goals and ambitions are pretty ambiguous for a teenager, I guess!

Three decades later, I’m escorting my firstborn daughter to school. She’s joining Secondary School. The motions at admission are pretty much the same, except for the financial bit that has turned cashless. No one is lining up at the bursar’s office!

All I have with me are receipts from a Co-op Kwa Jirani agent. I conveniently paid my daughter’s school fees at the local grocery shop!

After handing over the receipt to the school’s accountant, I was preparing to give my daughter some pocket money, a luxury I didn’t have.

Just as I was about to hand her the cash, the accountant said,” You know this generation doesn’t handle money like we used to,”

All parents in the room were confused wondering who he was talking to.”

“Our school uses Co-op prepaid cards. This is a Visa pre-paid card which you can load upfront and give your child to shop at the school canteen which has a machine for swiping.

“You can load the card from anywhere, anytime via Mpesa pay bill 400222 or the nearest Co-op Bank branch.

Students can also withdraw cash while going home, from our school Co-op Agent, “they make the use and tracking of pocket money much better and safer than physical cash.

Incase card is depleted you can to up your child’s pocket money from anywhere you are through the MCo-opcash app or deposit with you nearest Coop Kwa Jirani agent.”

On school closing days, school trips or on occasions that a student needs cash he or she can widthraw cash at any Co-op ATM’s across the republic.

It’s a real game changer. Oh, one does not need to be a Co-op Bank customer to get the card.

All the parents present, me included, were all sold on the idea almost immediately.

About this writer:

Kibaki Muthamia

Storyteller. SEO & UX Expert. Scriptwriter. CVs & Resumes. Biographies. [email protected]