October 31, 2019 will forever remain significant to me. I was nicknamed “Mr Chopper Man” at 11.57am on that day. Being the head teacher of Oyarata Primary School in Loitokitok Sub County, Kajiado County, I was tasked with collecting and returning KCPE examination scripts.
However, the container for storing the examinations materials was about 70km away at Loitokitok Education office and my school is at the furthest end of Loitokitok bordering Tsavo West National Park. The terrain is rough and when it rains, the roads become impassable. Phone connectivity is also poor. On the morning of October 31, 2019 while our driver and another head teacher from Nolsit Primary School were returning to our respective schools after collecting examination papers in Loitoktok, our vehicle was caught in floodwaters caused by heavy rains that morning.
Our driver had tried to drive through the waters but the vehicle skid and landed in a ditch. At that moment it dawned on us that the possibility of delivering the examination papers on time was impossible. We sought assistance from another driver, but his car also got stuck in the same ditch. We were about 18 kilometres from the examination centre, I called the SubCounty Director of Education and informed him about our situation. I took a video and pictures of where we were and sent to him as proof.
He then advised us to make sure the examination papers were not tampered with as he escalated the matter to the Kenya National Examinations Council. We managed to escape from the trapped car and walked four kilometres to Belgrove Lemongo Primary School where we were told a helicopter would airlift us. As we waited for the helicopter for about 30 minutes, our hearts were filled with anxiety and excitement. The Kajiado South SCDE and Deputy County Commissioner arrived at the school to make sure we were airlifted. At around 11:00 am, a helicopter landed at the school grounds. The pilot briefed us on safety protocols before we set off for our first flight.
The aerial view of farms and the expansive savannah was breath-taking. It was a wonderful experience because I was a “co-pilot‟, enjoying every moment as I eagerly waited to narrate the experience to my children when I got home. Aboard the helicopter were Nolsit Primary School headteacher, Kerio Olomayani, security officers and an invigilator from Olmapinu Primary School. We cruised at 120 nautical miles per hour at an altitude of 1,000 feet above sea level. We arrived at my school to a jubilant reception at 11:57am.
The candidates were ecstatic because they had never seen a helicopter at close range before, making it hard to calm them down. They were also worried about the fate of their examination papers. However, when I stepped out of the helicopter with the papers in my hand, they cheered. Onlookers milled around the school gate to get a glimpse of the helicopter.
After the examination ended, we were flown back to Loitokitok to return the scripts. From that day on, the nickname “Chopper Man” was coined after photos were circulated on social media. My colleagues also refer to me by that name.