For many years, Job Ong’ombe sat at the helm of Menyenya High School and made it the school of choice in Gusiiland and beyond.
The exemplary results of his time remain edged in the memories of his former students and other stakeholders alike.
The school, sponsored by the SDA church, produced many highly disciplined students in his time.
Many years later, Ong’ombe’s students hold him close to their hearts and nurse exciting memories of their days at the school.
Earlier this week, on Sunday, October 10, 2021, the old students paid their former principal a visit at his home in Kijauri, not far from the school with good news.
They have started a kitty that will enable learners from needy backgrounds to access education in the school.
The scholarship will be named after Mr. Ong’ombe.
They have so far spent over Ksh. 500,000 on fees for vulnerable students identified by the school.
According to the chairman of the alumni association, Mr. Justine Mabeya, they decided to name the scholarship after the former principal because of the good work he did in his 20-year stay at the institution.
Mr. Ong’ombe is, to date, the longest-serving principal of the school.
“We thank God for the privilege of having gone through Menyenya under the pupillage of Mwalimu Job Ong’ombe. May the Lord bless you and your family.
It is a privilege to give back to Menyenya and the community in appreciation of what you and the school did for us.
In honour of the work you did in the twenty years you headed the school, we thought it worthwhile to name the scholarship after you,” said Mr. Mabeya.
The chairman said that the scholarship will be jointly implemented by the school and the alumni who will be the main financiers.
The alumni association was formed three years ago with many aims, among them being giving back to the school.
During the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic last year, the alumni donated Covid-19 response materials like masks, soap, and handwashing stations to the school.
Later, the school’s alumni also sent success cards to all form four students at the school through an initiative that was spearheaded by Prof. Kefa M. Otiso, an alumnus of the school.
Prof. Otiso is a don at Bowling Green State University, Ohio, USA.
The alumni group is also getting ready to support the construction of a multipurpose hall that is expected to cost Ksh.100 million.
The chairman called on other alumni who have not joined the group to do so. This will enable them to be part of ongoing efforts to give back to the institution, so it will better serve the next generation.
“In appreciation of what the school has done for you, I call upon all alumni to come on board to say thank you,” Mr. Mabeya said.
“Apart from thanking Mwalimu Ong’ombe for touching our lives, we hope that this recognition of his work will inspire current and future Menyenya alumni to remember and appreciate those who have contributed to their success including parents, teachers, and many others,” said Prof. Otiso, who attended the event online.
“We urge alumni at other schools to emulate this example and to be more actively involved in supporting their former schools,” he added.
In his welcoming speech, the chairman of the planning committee Mr. Chris Mogeni said: “It’s is indeed my great pleasure to welcome you today to this great occasion. Not only is it a moment of happiness and nostalgia for us, but it is also an opportunity to reflect on where we have come from, and who has travelled on this journey with us.
As old boys and girls, we have become successful in our lives and professions and, before you, today, are the well-packaged products that you helped to create. We could not be prouder of you. That’s why we have come to you to thank you for instilling in us the virtues that made us who we are today.
Menyenya was our second home and you, and others who are not here with us, played a vital role in nurturing us to be responsible members of society. Kudos, mister principal.”
Over 200 former students serving in various professions across the globe were present during the event. Many others joined the event online from as far away as the US and Canada.
Among the notable alumni of the school is former Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) national treasurer John Matiang’i, who, together with Mr. Dismas Nyamweya Osano, a senior NSSF employee, were the masters of ceremony for the event.
Mr. Matiang’i is currently serving at the Ministry of Education (MoE) as deputy director. He served at KNUT for 13 years before resigning early this year.
Solicitor General Ken Ogeto and Interior Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Fred Matiang’i, an elder brother of the former KNUT unionist are also former students of Menyenya.
Dr. Teresa Mwoma, the first female Executive Director of the African Council for Distance Education (ACDE), and Dr. Joyce Mokamba, Manager for Training Services at the Kenya Bureau of Standards’ National Quality Institute are among the school’s other prominent alumni.
Dr. Mwoma, who is the current Secretary-General of the Menyenya Alumni, attended the party virtually and remarked that: “The month of October is an international month when teachers are cerebrated. For those of us who went through Menyenya High School, we are here today to cerebrate you our former Principal Mr. Job Ong’ombe. You mentored us, nurtured the talent in us and believed in the potential in us and that is why you molded and shaped us.
Beyond being a Principal, Elder in church, you were a father to many of us. You had time to listen to us when we were under distress, you disciplined us when we erred, little did we know that this was meant to make us great people in society. It is because of this support that you were able to produce professors, doctors, engineers, agriculturalists, many principals, teachers, lawyers, advocates and many more, some of whom are sited in front of you today.”
She added: “It is always good to give credit to those who deserve it when they are still alive. Many a time we wait until they die to start speaking good about them when they cannot hear. It is for this reason that we decided to pay our former Principle a courtesy call.”
For Menyenya, we are giving back to society to support more students attain their dreams in Life. We are what we are today because someone held our hands. we have also to give back what we received.”
According to Rachel Subbo Nyaramba, “the celebration was warm, colorful, and well-attended.”
On her part, Dr. Joyce Mokamba, noted that the courtesy call was necessary because Mwalimu Ong’ombe was and has been a great pillar to the less fortunate, including herself and her late brother Zachary Nyambane.
Dr. Mokamba, the Manager for Training Services at the Kenya Bureau of Standards’ National Quality Institute, wished Mwalimu a long and blessed life with his family.
Another alumnus who participated in the event is Mrs. Carren Chogo Asuma (Class of 1986), the Principal of St. Cyprian Biticha Secondary School.
She said that: “We are always asked to give back to the community but Menyenya alumni gave back to their former teacher, mentor, and disciplinarian, Mr Ong’ombe. It is good to tell people their value when they are alive. Long live Mr. Ong’ombe.”
Ms Sarah Mong’are (Abuga), Class of 1990, an occupational nurse in Minnesota, liked the fact that event organizers made provision for online participation by alumni diasporans like her.
“I watched the whole event online. I love the way the occasion was organized,” she said and added that “participants generally kept time. Everyone present was excited which made the occasion even more worthwhile.”
For Esther Omao (Class of 2000), a Chemical Analyst with Equator Bottlers, the event was a satisfying opportunity to meet her mentor, mingle with her year mates, and enjoy good food.
“The catering group did wonders with the food,” she added.
On his part, Mr. Ong’ombe said that he was impressed with his students, and thanked them for the gifts and recognition for the role he played while at the helm of Menyenya High School.
He said that he had to transform the school into a boarding school a year after he took over from his predecessor, the late Momanyi Rosasi, to reduce indiscipline cases among students. The school was then a day and boarding.
“I could solve indiscipline cases every morning in my first year. I had to talk to the board about the need to convert the school into full boarding.
They agreed and the school became a full boarding in 1982,” he said.
He added: “The school could later emerge among the best disciplined in the larger Gusii region, thanks to cooperative students and other stakeholders.
I want to thank the Lord for the far he brought us. I had very co-operative students and our school was among the most disciplined in the entire Gusii land.”
Mr.Ong’ombe who served as SDA Church elder thanked the Church for defending him from political wars.
“The SDA Church stood with me even when I had challenges from the political class. The sponsor always came in and supported me, because of the achievements we had made,” added Ong’ombe.
He urged the alumni to remain focused and uphold integrity in their various engagements.
“I would be disappointed particularly to learn that an SDA Christian is associated with corruption, bribery, or any form of mismanagement. Serve in your respective roles with a lot of integrity and transparency to avoid bringing curses to yourself and your families,” he added.
Due to Covid protocols, alumni were required to sign-up for the event ahead of time. Among those who did so were Dismas N. Osano, Zablon Mokaya, Pamela Ondieki, Gilbert Mokaya, Mongare P. James, Keller T. Mouko, Judith Mokoro, Elijah Ochoki, Elijah Ogoti Osiemo, Justin Mabeya Machini, Samuel Okemwa, Chris Mogeni, Richard Mwancha, Jacklyne Omundi, Benjamin Onyancha, Ruth Nyaboke (Class 2000), Esther Omao, Sibiah Ratemo, Naom Nyanchama, Gichana Mathew (Class of 2000), John Oeri (Class of 2000), James Kenyariri, Teresa Maroko, Young Maranga, Edward Nyangoya, Chweya Orina, Carren A. Chogo Asuma, Charles M. Ondieki, Josephine Nyang’wono, Dominic Gasongo, Betty Mageka, Juliah Ogeto, Vitalis Memba Omwoyo, Enock Ooga, Isack Ogati Omboga, Marleader Mochoge, Nahason Okari, Gladys Otochi, Evans Chacha, Rebecca Okwoyo, Wycliff M. Osoro (Class of 1999), Dorah Siro, Richard Mogaka, Chris N. Oisera, Jones Nyachiro, Tom Mokua, Isaac Makori, Evans Mosomi, Handson Ombogo, Daveline Nyakundi, Matthew Okari, Justice Samson O. Temu, Dr Joyce Mokamba, and Jacqueline Ondari.
Those who supported the event financially were Dismas Osano, Kefa Otiso, Elijah Ochoki, Chris Mogeni, Sam Riose Okemwa, Justin Mabeya, Micah Ongwae, Rachael Nyaramba, Mr & Mrs. Micah Mokaya, Shadrack Nyamboki, Benjamin Onyancha, Hellen Obanyi, Mr & Mrs. Gilbert Mokaya, Charles Mwoma, Dominic Gasongo, Judith Onsomu, Keller T. Mouko, Methusella Omao, Sarah. M. Mong’are, Evans J. Matunda, Teresa Bitengo, Maryleader Mochoge, Joyce Mokamba, Carren Nyaboke, Naomi Moturi, Hezron Otero, Josephine Nyang’wono, Kennedy Barake, Isaac Makori, Alfred N. Ongoto, Joel Simi, Dorcas Maranga, Welmah Onyimbo, Susan Maranga, Dickson Morumbwa, Charles Nyangito, Elijah Osiemo, Joyce B. Somoni, Margaret Ongiri, Sibiah Ratemo, Jackline M. Omundi, Dorcas B. Nyambati, Gladys Mageka, Betty Mageka, Nelly Monyancha, James Kenyariri, Hellen G. Maina, Boniface Mochama, James Paul, Kefa Nyambwogi, Young Maranga, Emmah Manwari, Pastor Juliah Ogeto, Naomi Teya, Abel Nyamamba, Clifford Mosomi, Gladys Ondieki, Teresa Maroko, Tom M. Ochanda, Joyce M. Obwoge, Stellah B. Onsongo, Susan Moguna, Charles Ondieki, John Matiang’i, Isaac Ondieki, Robert Mokamba, Alice Nyamao, Beatrice Mokua, Peter Ogwuvi, Vitalise Memba, Esther N. Omao, Wilson Ongeri, Nahason M. Okari, Gladys M. Otochi, Susan Abuya, Judith Mokoro, David Sing’ombe, Wycliff M. Osoro, Rebecca Okwoyo, Daveline P. Nyakundi, Margaret K. Sanganyi, Dorah Siro, Edward O. Nyangoya, Wycliffe M. Nyaribo, Richard Mogaka, Nicodemus Nyandiko, Chris N Oisera, Jackline Ondieki, Aristariko Mitiambo, Robert M. Ondari, Zipporah Bosire, Evans Chacha, Evans Mosomi, Robert Mose, Isaac O. Omboga, Jared A. Ntabo, Richard Mwancha, Evans A. Nyakundi, Samson O. Temu, Zablon Nyanumba, Gladys Nyamongo, Jacqueline Ondari, Derrick S. Ombuki, Matthew Okari, Hezron A. Onchwari, Jones Nyachiro, Wilfred Nyaberi, Manase Ateka, Geoffrey Ateka, Jared Ongaga, Edward Bota, Annah Tora, Charles Ogari, Enock Ooga, George Ondieki, Janet Kerubo, Evans Mosomi, and Ben Muko. Ms. Ruth Ogega gifted Mwalimu with a branded shirt and hoody sweater.
The courtesy call on Mr. Ong’ombe was organized by a committee consisting of Chris Mogeni (Chairman), Dickson Murumbwa, Judith Onsomu, Dismas Nyamweya, Gilbert Mokaya, Dr. Teresa Mwoma, Justin Mabeya, Dr. Joyce Mokamba (Treasurer), Prof. Kefa Otiso, Benjamin Onyancha, Hellen Obanyi, Joyce Somoni (Secretary), and Naomi Moturi.
Additional Reporting By Elijah Nyaanga