There is always that phone call that everyone dreads. This is especially the one that informs you of the demise of a loved one. Whether or not the death was imminent or a complete surprise, the hard hitting reality that follows is always shocking. The dawning certainty that the bereaved would not have the opportunity to grace our lives once more; not even for final time that would hopefully be a predetermined finality. Today, this day, I received such a call. The sad reality dawning on me that one of my favorite lecturers Mr. Wilson Peter Kudoyi is no longer with us. That his frail and strong frame that graced the corridors of the 1st Floor of Block B in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences would remain a distant memory further blurring with the constantly advancing time. ‘Kudoyi’ as most of us would fondly or indifferently refer to him had cast the anchor on his life’s journey.
Wilson Peter Kudoyi was until his demise a Lecturer at the department of Philosophy, History and Religion. To many he was this strict disciplinarian; a stickler for time and a man who loved and equally took a challenge in his stride. He would, for instance require that everyone comes to class early enough. Once in First Year, he had decreed that any student who came late would not be allowed into class. I was the class representative then and happened to come late in the following class. Acting very seriously, I went straight to my seat without looking at him and proceeded as if nothing had happened. Being disappointed that the class rep was not leading by example. He let me sit in through the lecture. He was a patient man when he wanted to be and would at times blow up and express his hurt. I remember on several occasions when he had to put up with the stubborn Hono (Currently SUEU- Chairman) if not joining up in laughter and great uproar when something was hilarious!
His mode of teaching, mostly lectures involved tedious note taking with most students losing track due to his quick pace at dictating. Students would be seen referring from the books of ‘experts’ in the art of note taking. Hono would always attract the wrath of Kudoyi by asking that he repeats most of his earlier notes thus giving most of us time to catch up on the areas we had not got clearly. At such instances, he would peep at you through the top of his glasses, with an irritated grin and either reiterate the point, or assume it as irrelevant. To get him off track so as to get some time catch a break from note taking, we would present an argument that would occupy most of his time and thus earn us some reprieve, especially for our already fatigued hands. Yet his lectures were hardly boring. Enlightening and puzzling at equal measure. He loved his family and would constantly travel over to Busia to see them or to attend the board meeting for a local polytechnic for which he was the Chairman. He adored responsible people, and wished his students would turn out as such.
I especially recall one evening when he had left me with a book from which we were to photocopy several pages for reading while he was away. He called me later that evening to his residence t BH and offered a cup of coffee which I gladly accepted. He would then take most of the time highlighting to me how corruption was eating away at the very opportunities that Kenyans have for developing themselves and their communities. He would tell me how he turned the fortunes of the polytechnic for the better by tightening the loopholes that often led to misappropriation of funds. By constantly visiting the school, he said, his presence would be felt and he could also ensure the accountability of those in charge of running the school. He would advise me to take my studies seriously and was even against my involvement in campus politics saying that it would jeopardize my academic life. Our last meeting came close to 4 months ago. I was in campus for a couple of personal activities and while alighting from the Welfare Bus in Nakuru Town, we came face to face and exchanged warm greetings. He of course did not fall short of reminding me of his sentiments regarding my political activities.
The class would always be full when it was Kudoyi’s class. Once when there was miscommunication over the class venue between ED13 at the Education complex and B4 which was close to a mile apart; he postponed the class refusing to disadvantage those in absentia. There was also this rumor that was inherited amongst the course mates that being long sighted, he could not pick out someone using a mwakenya very close to him; yet his very presence and mean looking eyes would be enough to cast doubts on the offenders eyes to shatter all courage of attempting mischevousness. Another fond memory with Mr. Kudoyi was when we were visiting the Olorgesailie Historical Site along Magadi. I was then in first year and was not really aware of where we were headed to since there had been a change of venues owing to the length of time it would take to reach the site. Olorgesailie is along Magadi Road close to 60km North East of Nairobi. Since I could not identify the exact place we were in, he retorted; ‘Wewe ata hujui kwenu!’ (You don’t even know your home!). Most classmates around would burst in laughter while I put up a very serious face to discourage further outbursts…
It is very cruel of death to deny us of even more of what Mr. Kudoyi had in store for us. Even as I look forward to resume my studies; the hope that he would continue to exert his influence in my life, to impart and guide me in the realization of my academic dreams has definitely been challenged. My heart cries out to the young family I had the chance to interact with while at his place and the brief early morning interaction at the Easy Coach stage in Busia. These memories just as this piece will forever remain with me.
To my fellow course mates who just last week had the privilege to see and learn from Mr. Kudoyi, and all those who were preparing for a CAT and even the final examinations from him, the news must indeed be shocking. Take heart bearing in mind that God’s time is the best. Live to cherish the few moments you shared together and the much or little that you were able to learn from him both as a person and as a lecturer. His pride, would be in seeing that he paved the way for the development of a productive member of society.
Rest in Peace Mr. Kudoyi!