Sometime in 1985, a young man walked into the towering gates of Moi High School-Kabarak, hoping to draw from its wells of knowledge. Luka Kimaru came from the plateaus of Uasin Gishu County brimming with hope and has never regretted his two-year stint at Kabarak. Kimaru, who is now a High Court judge, fondly recalls his life as Kabarak.
Life has its firsts, the judge says. It is here that he learnt table manners holding a folk, a knife and not slurping while taking soups. It is at Kabarak too that he learnt the power of ‘hot power’ (hot water), especially during the hours when tea was unavailable.
“One thing that I actually learnt from Kabarak, let me put it this way, you cannot separate our time at Kabarak with former President Daniel Toroitich arap Moi; the impact he made on our lives,” he said. The judge told The Standard, that he was too good in history that he aspired to become a professor of history.
“I loved history and when it came to choosing which course I was to do in university I actually chose Bachelor of Arts in history. However, two of my history teachers; Mr Kisirikoi and Mr Talala convinced me to choose law,” Kimaru, who is serving his sixteeth year in the Judiciary said. The judge laughed heartily as he recounted how former President Daniel arap Moi, the founder of the school, would bring them loaves of bread whenever he visited.
According to Kimaru, the school offered him an opportunity to learn for free. “We literally learnt for free at Kabarak because per year we paid Sh2,000. So coming from a humble background that really helped,’’ the judge said. He added: “We also got free uniform, free shoes, free bedsheets and when we nished, we went with the items home. For people who came from humble background, it gave us an opportunity to learn in the best institution in the country,” says Justice Kimaru. Interestingly, their ’86 class’ has three judges in the Judiciary; Justices Kimaru, Chacha Mwita and Said Chitembwe. The three were in the same class. Justice Mwita is the presiding judge Kajiado High Court after he was transferred from Nairobi’s Milimani Court where he sat in the Constitutional division of the High Court. Justice Chitembwe sits at Marsabit Court.
Kimaru says teachers instilled a sense of selflessness in the students. “The message was emphasised all through that in whatever you do here (Kabarak) use it as a stepping stone to help others. The former President used to say; be mindful of others. He did this by minding our welfare without expecting anything in return,” says Justice Kimaru.
He continues: “There is that saying in Kiswahili tenda wema nenda zako (do good and move on). That is actually an embodiment of it. That is something which I learnt at Kabarak and I even practice it now. I mentor youth how I was mentored while in Kabarak.” Kimaru is currently mentoring 300 university students. Kabarak, he says, was the first school where he interacted with all the Kenyan communities. According to the judge, his colleague Justice Mwita is from Kuria while Justice Chitembwe is from Kwale.
“[At Kabarak] you learnt to be a Kenyan because you interacted with students from all over the country and that it actually opened up your mind.” “When I was appointed as a judge it was as if you were tting a hand in a glove in the sense of the experience that I gained in Kabarak. That is something I am really grateful for in terms of Kabarak’s experience.”
He fondly speaks of Kenya’s second President. According to the judge, the President’s advice helped him to perform well. “There things he did and said which when I reflect, I find they positively impacted on my life. He motivated us. I think I would not have performed the way I did. When I left Kabarak, I was number 18 countrywide and I can attribute that to the encouragement he gave us,” the judge adds. His good performance, he narrates, earned him a ticket to visit United Kingdom. Kimaru said the trip, sponsored by Moi, was his fi rst outside the country. “We toured Wales, Scotland and England courtesy of the former President.” His son also schooled in Kabarak. The students would wake up at 5am and sleep at 10pm. Anyone who would want ‘extend’ would sit in a common room in the dormitory. Out of 130 students in his class who sat for form six examinations, 126 made it to the university.