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The one thing that caught my eye when I first met you was your sense of style. You were the ultimate first lady. Always had nicely done hair, fashionable outfits and very articulate. I wanted to be you so bad when I grew up.

Fashion sense aside, you inspired me academically. Remember the stories you narrated about your past? Of how bad timing almost made you drop out of school. You may not know these stories helped us stay in school. You were devastated, and so were your parents. But you snapped out of it and went back to school, worked harder than ever before and became the person you are today.

You may not know this, but those stories freaked us out but at the same time gave us a new perspective on life. Nobody wanted to go through that. I know of some girls who used to sneak out of school to see their boyfriends who changed, right hearing your story. We all know what happened to those who did not.

“One day when you have your own money you can go to as many nightclubs as you wish, have as many boyfriends and marry whoever you wish. But now it’s time for school, make good use of it. There is a time for everything” you always said.

This statement still resonates with me 10 years later.

Then again I’m grateful for you taking me in when I first moved to your school. You were the head mistress and I moved there in my third year of high school.  I hated moving from a town school to the countryside. But my dad had this absurd notion that day-schools in the city were breeding havens for loose women.

The first few months were not easy for me. The place was cold, rainy and full of strangers. The cold showers in the morning were torture and I had to get used to the half cooked meals.

I still don’t know whether you liked me because I was bright, or because I was small and shy. The latter would have given me hard time with them bullies if you were not in the picture. Or perhaps you noticed how lonely and lost I was. I had just lost my mother 3 months earlier, and the transition from the city was not easy. Either way you took me under your wing from day one.

Although I did not get that A in the final exam like you have wanted me to L,  the life lessons learnt from you shape my life to this very day. Coincidentally you are the head teacher at my sister’s school; she tells me how you are good to her too.

One day I will give that talk to the girls at your new school like you have always wanted me too. (As soon as I make it in life)  Tell them that a teacher is much more than someone who teaches you to read, write and pass exam. A teacher  can be family, your very best friend.

You deserve it all… Asante Mwalimu Rapando.

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