Throughout the week, the socials have been abuzz with news of our first female World Rally Championship (WRC) 2022 Safari Rally winner, Maxine Wahome.
When I clicked to open my Twitter app this morning, I saw that a certain ‘Maxine Wahome’ was trending. I got curious. Because that name sounded too familiar. I clicked on it and that opened the various conversations regarding the WRC championship. Flipped the images, her face didn’t ring a bell.
I ignored the thought and continued with my daily tasks. The name ‘Maxine’ still rang on my mind. I simply assumed is was a case of ‘mistaken identity.’ Until two hours later when my probing mind slowly began to recall that face and smile. I stopped what I was doing, grabbed my iPad, went to google and checked her out. Then it hit me.
More than twelve years ago or so, I remember being a Level 2 Splendid class teacher at Rose of Sharon Academy, along Kabarnet Road. My class had 28 students, 17, girls and 11 boys and little Maxine was one of them. If you have some experience teaching, you very well know how certain students learn faster than others, at times, you may have to give assignments to the fast learners, then take some time helping the others catch up. Maxine was the latter, so I took time with them, to ensure that they were at par. Back then, one would qualify to be a successful educationist based on how well your class performed in the exams. Producing the top and last performer in your class meant that the mean average would almost be substandard compared to other classes. That would also determine whether you would keep your job or lose it. The turnover for teaching staff in other schools was high at the time. Rose of Sharon, being one of those bougie institutions in town where teachers were modestly remunerated, we had to walk an extra mile to stay on.
Maxine was a lovely girl, very soft spoken. I remember asking questions during class and whenever I would pick on her, she would almost answer in whispers. I would politely ask her to raise her a voice a little more so everyone could hear her. Not the type to appear in a list of noise makers. Or wrong doers. But boy, did she love to play! Those were times when her happiest elements would surface. Those memories are still fresh.
Her mother was a classy lady, well put together, polished in speech and fashion sense. She spoke softly but articulately and valued every insight shared. I would always admire her pretty dresses and unique shoes, mostly heels. We developed a bond through the open days when parents would come to school to be kept up to their kid’s educational progress. She would mostly come accompanied with her husband, who was a man of few words. We never forget those parents that are ever so grateful for the time we put in to better the lives of their children, it does not matter whether it’s just verbal or material. From a teacher’s standpoint, that effort means everything.
Maxine’s mom and I arranged to have Saturday tuition for her (at home). I remember commuting from my house to theirs. At the time they lived somewhere off Ngong Road, very close to the school. Then eventually moved to Kilimani. Whether her parents were home or not, I always received a warm welcome. They paid me handsomely, once each week and I put in my best leg to ensure Maxine’s grades would improve. And they did! I was thrilled. I quit teaching barely one year after that.
So, this is THE Maxine, I was struggling so hard to recall! She was once my student. That night, I vowed to sleep in my favorite pair of shoes. I am very proud to have had the golden opportunity to have impacted on this brilliant young lady.
Maxine, I am not sure whether you will ever come across my post, but I would want you to know that I am very proud of you. Seeing your face splashed across the socials after your win is nothing short of an accomplishment. Even if ai may not have achiever so much in my teaching career, meeting former students such as yourself has made me marvel and celebrate. May you keep soaring and conquering the world in whatever it is you do best.
There are 5 things you might not know about this year’s WRC Safari Rally winner:
1. Maxine is currently 26 years old. She started riding when she was only 12 years though initially she started out by biking, then eventually shifted to participating in motorsports and rallies.
2. Jimmy Wahome, her dad used to be a Rally Driver.
3. In 2021’s WRC Safari Rally held in June, she finished in the 23rd position. Due to her motorsport prowess, she is popularly known as the ‘riding queen.’
4. Maxine is scared of snakes.
5. She works at Montessori School in Nairobi as a nursery teacher. Her spare time is spent going on road trips, watching movies and catching up with friends. Her dream is to start a driving school.
Some of her accomplishments by year are as follows:
– 2013 – She was named Lady Rider of the year in Kenya.
– 2014 – She got Motorsports personality of the year (All motorsports) Rose bowl award.
– 2015 – Named Lady Driver of the year in Kenya.
– 2016 – Named 3rd overall in ladies Africa.
– 2017 – Named Lady rider of the year in Kenya.
– 2019 – Named 9th overall in Ladies Africa after an event in Zimbabwe.
– 2020 – Transitioned to a buggy with a 1300 Starlet engine.
– 2021 – She participated in the WRC Safari Rally Championship in Kenya where she emerged 23rd out of about 58 entries at the start of the rally.
There you have it.
Finally, my advice to all parents is to allow your kids to shine beyond the classroom. Support, mentor and encourage them pursue the extra-curricular activities they are most passionate about. Long gone are the days when parents decide on their kids’ careers.