The late Prof George Magoha epitomised the potential that exists in a man if given the right education and tools. Some 60 years ago when he was about 10, Magoha was just another village boy enthusiastic about education and born into a family that valued education.
Later, he achieved so much that he personally struggled to fit all his achievements into a 91-page CV. His CV, accessible on Google does not even mention his tenure at the helm of the Kenya National Examinations Council and later the Ministry of Education.
Magoha must be remembered most for trying to recreate the same for the most vulnerable child in slums. That is where I believe his legacy should be cemented through a scholarship programme.
Magoha was among few government leaders that walked into the narrow slum alleys, jumping over puddles and hills of dirt to flush out vulnerable children and ensure they went to school.
I got a bit teary the other day when I reviewed one of his videos as he went house to house in slums, sitting on jerry cans and shaky beds as he sought to find out why some students had not reported to school.
In every house he walked in and found a child who had not reported to school, he made sure not to leave them behind. You can imagine the burly man sitting just a metre away in your congested mabati structure asking you to release your child to him. Touching. Isn’t it?
He did the same in ASAL areas where one of the beneficiaries, David Tajeu, will sit his KCSE examination later this year. Despite having scored 368 marks out of 500, Tajeu was hopeless as his situation back could not allow him to progress to secondary school. That was until his chance meeting with Magoha.
I suggest that every institution that Magoha worked with or got associated with, establishes a scholarship fund for his remembrance. It is worth congratulating Siaya County Government that has tailored its Sh75 million bursary programme in honour of Prof Magoha.
I, however, believe a permanent programme should be established, particularly at the University of Nairobi where he rose to become vice chancellor. The programme should specifically target bright children from slums and ASAL areas. That way, his demise would not be in vain.
Besides academia, Magoha also left a legacy as a leader. He was forthright, never minced his words, never played to the gallery and never wavered. His no was no and his yes was just that. Many mistook that for arrogance but the result of his efforts spoke of passion and love for the country. That too should be emulated. Rest in peace, our hero.
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The writer is anchor at Radio Maisha