EDUCATION: Down the academic memory lane

Getting ten points and above in the Arts subjects and seven points and above in the Sciences was the ultimate ticket to university.

At the time, joining University was a sure bet for leaping out of poverty. It no longer is today but that is a story for another day.

Eight years from the date of this announcement (refer to the photo below), I made it to the list of the chosen few that were to rule the corridors of academic power. Some call it the pinnacle of intellectual acrobats. It was the happiest moment of my life, a real great dream come true.

Even so, I really wanted to join the faculty of law at the University of Nairobi. My boyhood dream was to be clad in those neatly cut dark Italian  suits, engaging in eloquent jurisprudential discourse in the corridors of justice. But as fate would have it, I ended up in the largest teacher training institution in East and Central Africa, Kenyatta University. I digress!

This ancient piece of news reminds me of the once indefatigable center of excellence, the Cardinal Otunga High School aka The Red City!

In its heydays, it used to be a towering academic and sporting giant. It was then in the same league with Alliance, Mangu, Starehe and the like. I really loved this school and it was my school of choice for high school studies.  Sadly, my marks fell short.

“Destination Red City!”

We routinely chanted as we wound the last bend of our form four studies. When the results of our KCE were announced I knew I’d missed The Red City!   

My heart sunk! It was a sombre day I recall to date. I’ve a feeling that hiccup slowed my upward trajectory to where I had really wanted to be, the faculty of law at the University of Nairobi.

I cut the long story short. At what point did the rain start beating the mighty Cardinal Otunga High School?
Why did this giant lose its glory as all and sundry helplessly watched? When the men from Holland were in charge the school was one of the very best in the country. When Africans were made the custodians, the red city went to the dogs quite literally!

My sister’s son was admitted at the school a few years ago. My brother and I drove to the school to make an assessment. We drove away never to go back there. The deterioration of this once upon a time center of excellence shocked us beyond measure. We found a better option. 

However, I am happy the school is retracing its steps, albeit slowly, going by its results in recent years.

Look at Starehe Boys Center!  That icon in the city pioneered by one of the greatest Kenyans ever, Mr Geoffrey Griffins, has lost its glory in recent years. 

What does the collapse of these schools say about the managerial skills of the African? Why do we run down institutions entrusted to us? Are we genetically predisposed to be horrible managers?

Colonialism was one horrific chapter in our history. Some old citizens will tell you that some social amenities operated or functioned much more efficiently when the colonialists were ruling us than when we are in charge.

Anyhow, we can’t eat past glory. We can’t revel in the history that’s obviously under the bridge. It is gone. The past is dead. We need a radical paradigm shift in our mode of operation.

We have the future to make. Let us branch out to new ways of doing things. Let’s broaden our horizons to extents unimaginable. I believe with the right attitude, Kenya can still shine like a city on the hill.

Mwalimu Gichaba Nyantino is a Nakuru City based teacher, author and columnist in The Scholar Media Africa

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Mwalimu Gichaba Nyantino is a Nakuru-based teacher and author and Columnist "THESE, THAT AND OTHER" at The Scholar Newspaper and


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