By Suleiman Hassan
Teachers in Mandera County have come out to vehemently deny accusations by their colleagues from the rest of the country who are staging a sit-in at their employer’s offices in Nairobi.
Speaking at a joint press conference held in Mandera today, the local teachers represented by officials drawn from the Kenya Primary Schools Head teachers Association (KEPSHA), Kenya Secondary Schools Head teachers Association (KESSHA) and the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) brushed aside the claims and demands made by their non-local colleagues terming them baseless, ill intended and weird.
Backed by the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT), the non-local teachers from the County and the entire North Eastern region are seeking mass transfers over insecurity, harassment by colleagues, students and parents.
In a report compiled and submitted to the Teachers Service Commission by KNUT, non – local teachers levelled serious accusations against their local colleagues who they said arm twist them into allowing students to cheat in National Examinations failure to which they are beaten up or even threatened with deaths.
They also talked of how locals refer to them as ‘adomey’, ‘nywele ngumu’ and ‘kafir’ which they claim is derogatory.
However, all these were rubbished by the locals who said, if anything, the teachers were offered special incentives like breakfast, lunch and accommodation in government houses among other goodies.
They threatened to break away from the Sossion led KNUT and form an independent union to represent the interest of the teachers serving pastoral communities.
They accused KNUT of failing in their mandate to represent all teachers as they have exhibited a one-sided approach to the current standoff adding that it was evident in the damning report which contains allegations by the aggrieved teachers and has not given any chance to the accused side.
“Sossions is squarely to blame for what is happening, he can keep his KNUT if he wants to continue like this. We have no option but to form a similar independent body for the pastoral communities.” Kepsha’s Mohamed Farah Bardad said.
The group called on their colleagues to unconditionally return to their work stations since the National Government has beefed up security while the County governments have also pledged to ensure their safety.
Given the Somali people’s love for nicknames and christening names to individuals based on their looks, behavior and physical appearance, most residents do not consider as derogatory the names that irked the non-local teachers.
A random interview by Nepjournal revealed Somalis are no shrinking violets as a rule and certainly do not hold back when it comes to giving nicknames.
“The name we give you is basically what you are. We don’t hide behind walls” says Abdi Ali, a resident of Wajir town.
‘Nywele ngumu’ basically means that their hair looks a bit harder than ours, kwani tunge wa ita nywele soft? He poses unapologetically.
Names given as a result of direct physical observations are generally negative. If you have a missing tooth, Somalis will call you ‘ganey’ and if you suffer hair loss, you are ‘bidaarre’ (baldy).
Most Somalis are Muslims and as a result non-muslims are referred to as ‘gaal’ or ‘kaafir’. The former is a Somali word that means non-believer while the latter is its Arabic version.
The Chinese are referred to as ‘indha yar’ (tiny/small eyes) while the whites are ‘caddaan’.
So the next time a Somali gives you a name, please know that he has frankly told you what he thinks you are.
Just say thank you, call him by a name that befits his looks also and before you know, you are his best friend!