Benjamin Kipkorir, the reluctant academic

By Biketi Kikechi

Ordinarily the nametag on Prof Benjamin Kipkorir’s desk could have carried his title, name and honors achieved in his distinguished career as a scholar and public servant.

"Tare yu (finish it here, it says in Kalenjin) and those are the words you read on the tag when facing the affable and humorous former Kenyan Ambassador in Washington DC, USA.

A curious visitor could have however noticed that on the hind-side facing the good old professor and meant for his own digestion, the tag says: "Don’t Get Mad, Get Even."
Ambassador Benjamin Kipkorir

I sought to know the bigger meaning behind the words Tare Yu but B.E Kipkorir as he is known to his peers declined to tell more than I know.

"It has a bigger meaning but I will not tell you more than that because journalists are very inquisitive," he quipped as he adjusted himself touching the keyboard on his Toshiba laptop.

I was at his office to talk about newly published memoirs Descent From Cherang’any Hills: Memoirs of a Reluctant Academic.

But before kicking off the interview, Kipkorir walked to his wall mirror to ensure that his blue white stripped tie and the collar his blue checked shirt were in place.

Turning to the memoirs, Kipkorir demonstrated that he has a lot to offer the country on the running and the management of a devolved system of government.

The man who once the Executive Chairman of Kenyan Commercial Bank believes the country needs not more than 41 self-reliant counties. The current Revised Harmonised Draft suggests the country should have 47. To him, the functions and not the numbers, are the most critical. Besides, he is unhappy with the devolved government proposed by the Committee of Experts and instead wants them to restore counties as they exited after the country attained its independence.

"I’m not at all contended with what they have done until I see the core functions that these counties will have," he says.

He would have liked to see functional counties with powers to legislate, raise tax, that runs a local police unit, enforces its own law and also has its own local courts.

Kipkorir drew his experience on local government management when he served at Sirikwa County Council for one and a half years in 1965.

The 25-year old had just graduated from Makerere university where he his studies were sponsored by the Kenya Government (read central government). The appetite to serve his people at the devolved government level was whetted when he was studying at Alliance High School because Sirikwa County had paid his school fees. "I was very conscious of what those people had done for me while I was a student at Government African School Tambach and at Alliance High School," recounts Kipkorir.

He has led a very private life since he left the Washington posting in 2003 although he is the Director of Mabati Rolling Mills, Credit Reference Bureau among others.

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Benjamin Kipkorir Cherang’any Hills Memoirs of a Reluctant Academic