By Wahome Thuku via FB
Around 1996 when I was vice chairman of the KU students union, there was mix-up in the disbursement of HELB loan. The students were required to get some refund that had wrongly been held either by HELB or KU. It was not a fresh loan but a refund of what had already been granted. It was to come right at the middle of the semester when pockets were dry.
Helb CEO Nyaigoti Chacha claimed they had sent the money to KU. Eshiwani insisted the money was still in HELB. The students could not accept such buck-passing. They became very agitated. Every day I would host about 50 students in my room trying to convince them that we were working on the issue. We held meetings with the Academic Registrar and the DVC Finance. We told them the students were running out of patience and they would go on the rampage.
On third day the six student leaders were given a 60-seater KU bus to go to Nairobi and talk to Chacha. We met him in his office and discussed the situation. He insisted that they had sent money to KU. Word went round on campus that the leaders had gone to Nairobi to get the money. When we arrived back late in the evening, we found about 200 students waiting outside the KUSA office. Another group was waiting for me outside my room, demanding their money.
Just like that, Wahome Thuku had now become HELB. We decided to call a Kamukunji the following morning at Bishop Square. Even the low-profile guys who avoided controversies attended this one. My chairman One Mr Oloo led in prayers. We addressed the students and told them to take the demand in their own hands. In a matter of minutes, Thika Road had been closed.
It was total rampage and a standoff with the police from Kasarani. Chacha sneaked into the campus. He held a meeting with Eshiwani. That afternoon a circular was released informing the students to go and collect their refund the following day from designated KCB branches in Nairobi, Thika and Ruiru or something.
By 9am the following day, students had jammed banking halls at University Way, Kipande House and elsewhere. Nobody else could be served in those banks and students threatened to get to the casher desks and pay themselves. The managers knew it was best to clear with the students before the worst happened.
In hours we all rich and could afford chicken all over again. It took students to riot for HEB and KU to stop the game. So yes, understand this young man Owino Babu pretty well. In his shoes, I would do exactly the same thing. However I have long cleared my HELB loan and I can only ask those who went to Thika Road in 1990s to clear theirs so that Babu and colleagues can get money to buy chicken as well.