Of course [after graduation from high school] some things go, whistles, lights-out, uniform, parades, prefects,…and yet all the central ideas go on. There will still be chores to be done, and done well, without grumbles; there will still be the need to discipline, for men who can obey and can therefore—when called upon—rule…(Francis 1957, 2).
What we are practicing at Makere, day in and out,…is the subversion… of the African mind; the breaking down of mental tissues; their reconstruction in the Western mode; the reordering of thoughts, feelings, habits, responses, of every aspect of the mind and personality. This is what we are doing, and cannot avoid doing—this is the core of our activity (Murray Carlin in Stanley 1960, 11).
In 1957 a solemn third-former at Alliance High School wrote in the school magazine: “Superstition used to play an important role in Kikuyu society…It was the chief reason why the older order changed more slowly than many people desired” (Ngugi 1957, 21). Unequivocally rejecting “rigid” traditional society, the writer declares approvingly that with the advance of Christianity—“without doubt the greatest civilising influence”—many Gikuyu have come to regard “superstition and witchcraft…with derision.” After a well told anecdote tinged with humorous self-mockery, the essayist ends with sermonizing gratitude for “a most valuable lesson” (22).
This parrot-like bagatelle in The AHS Magazine—signed “J. T. Ngugi, Form 3A,” and his first published work—echoes the high moral tone of the missionary headmaster of Alliance High School, E. Carey Francis (Greaves 1969; Kipkorir 1980; Sicherman 1990, 389-92). The motto of the school, “Strong to Serve,” implied the kinds of “chores” that boys thus educated would have to do in Kenya when they became—in Ngugi's later caustic paraphrase of his headmaster's goal–“efficient machines for running a colonial system” (Sicherman 1990, 20).