In Summary

  • Education in Kenya can rebuild any lost dream, change losers into winners, beasts into saints.
  • The laptop was dead for three days and three nights, and lo and behold, it resurrected on the third day. It was like a new Easter for my laptop.
  • The past 15 years have seen regimes keen on overhauling the status quo in educational policy and structure.

It was a chilly morning in Nairobi, and a magnificently planned and executed graduation ceremony was going on.

The sky over the city was heavily clouded. It wasn’t about to rain; this is just how our winter looks.

The procession had begun extremely punctually, at 10am, and by 10:15, the National Anthem was being played. At this ceremony, there was no chief guest and no political speeches.

Strathmore University has built a culture where all guests are chief guests. Parents, students and friends come together to witness the momentous end of a personal journey, and the start of a new era - the professional era.

A graduation is supposed to be the inauguration of a life-long task, a strictly academic act. Graduates, parents, relatives, staff and friends come together to celebrate the crossing of a threshold, a kind of modern initiation rite.

Names were read, “First Class Honours, Ali Ikran, Jaoko Imani, Kirubi Mumbi, Koskei Brenda…” and each name was followed by cheers and ululations. They are the hope of the village, of the town, of the county and the country.

I had the fortune of reading 107 names. These are law graduates from at least seven nationalities. Rich and poor, rural and urban…a potpourri of races, beliefs, values, families and social backgrounds.

One of those 107 new lawyers was a former child soldier. His family was killed when he was kidnapped by a rebel army. He was forced to join the army and stayed with them, fighting for a cause that he did not choose, until he managed to escape and run away to Kenya. He walked for weeks to reach Kakuma Refugee Camp.

In Kakuma, he was spotted by a bighearted teacher. He joined primary school and did exceedingly well. He then travelled to Nairobi and finished secondary school within two years.

He was admitted to Strathmore on a scholarship, granted by a generous human being. This former child soldier, whose future had been stolen by senseless, brutal killings, is today a star employee in one of the most prestigious banks in Africa. This is the transformational power of education.

Education in Kenya can rebuild any lost dream, change losers into winners and beasts into saints. As time went on, I drew back to my phone while other names were being read.

DEEPLY ADDICTED

Some people thought I was deeply addicted to my iPhone. Somebody even joked, “iPhones make people change, it must be the apple, for it also changed Eve.” I laughed, for the truth was quite different.

Two days before, during a seminar, a colleague had inadvertently spilt water on my laptop, which had died. I prayed and tried all medical and technological means, including overnight fans and heavy-duty lamps.

The laptop was dead for three days and three nights, and lo and behold, it resurrected on the third day. It was like a new Easter for my laptop.

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