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It's pleasant surprise, say top students

By | March 1st 2011

By Boniface Ongeri and Renson Mnyamwezi

When Albert Kamau Wandui was told he would top last year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education he choked with saliva.

"My friends told me that they would swarm my home to lift me up in celebration, but I did not take them seriously. I choked," he says.

Kamau says even though he expected to perform well, he did not see himself as a top student nationally.

"Now that I am the best I will take it. I got more than I bargained for. I am humbled and I am yet to come to terms with it," he says.

The 17-year-old, who scored 87.10, says he jumped from the seat when Minister for Education Sam Ongeri announced his name as the top candidate.

Lydia Mwangasha, relatives and friends celebrate at their residence in Taita Taveta after she emerged the best girl in KCSE. [PHOTO: RENSON MNYAMWEZI/STANDARD]

Hoarse voice

And the celebration came at a little cost of losing his voice.

"I couldn’t hide the joy so I had to shout and jump in joy. Honestly until now (by 2pm) I haven’t known who are the others in the top ten list. I was overwhelmed to follow what the minister said after that," says the former Moi High School, Kabarak headboy in a hoarse voice.

He continues: "My experience shows that building self confidence is key to achievement. I hated to study on my own, group discussion is the best form because you learn and share in the process."

When The Standard visited his home in Sports View Estate in Kasarani, Nairobi, jubilant family members and friends mobbed Kamau.

"Success requires many people and I think I owe many people if I start listing them I might forget one and they will feel bad," he says.

Among those present was Victor Kanyinge, his neighbour friend who before Kamau sat for the examination last year, had wryly predicted he would emerge tops.

Kanyinge says he had seen the potential in Kamau.

Ms Jane Kamau, his mother, is equally elated.

"I knew he was a hardworking boy and he managed through difficulties and God rewarded him for that," she says.

Adds the mother: "We expected much when he sat for his Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examination at Cornerstone Academy in Zimmerman. He scored 421 marks, but was not ranked nationally," she says.

Jane attributes her son’s sterling performance to their strong faith in God and see it as answered prayers.

"The power of the tongue is powerful. Parents should encourage their children rather than dismiss them," she says of her second born child in a family of three.

Kamau wants to follow his elder brother Jeremy Njoroge’s footsteps and pursue Engineering.

Njoroge is a third year Engineering student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.

"It is in line with Vision 2030 and I am sure engineers will be needed to drive the country forward," he observes.

Academic slumber

The top student is an achiever of sorts.

Last year, he represented Kenya in a mathematics contest in Ivory Coast where he emerged with a bronze in the Panafrican Mathematics Olympiad. This was after he topped in a similar contest in Kenya.

His neighbours say they did not expect their humble estate tucked behind Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, would produce the top candidate.

"I would see him with books always or some reading materials, I didn’t know I was brushing shoulders with the best," says the estate security officer Isaac Obare.

And for the best girl, when her elder sister called her to inquire about her index number a day before the results were released, Lydia Mwangasha jokingly told her that she should not worry since her name would be splashed on the screen.

The former Kenya High School student’s confidence was not in vain. "I expected to perform well in the national examination but emerging position one in the girl’s category is a surprise to me," she says.

And as the news of her success filtered in, residents of Mtango village in Chawia Location including friends, relatives and teachers thronged her mother’s house at Murray Girls High School in Mwatate to congratulate the top KCSE girl.

Mwangasha says she had been in the house from 10am waiting for the results to be announced since she knew she could be among the top students. The 17-year-old has not only put Taita-Taveta in the limelight, but has also jolted the region from academic slumber.

With her success she could serve as a role model for local students.

Mwangasha attributes her success to God, hard work, determination and support from teachers and parents.

"I thank my teachers and parents who contributed a lot as I prepared for this exam," adds an ecstatic Mwangasha.

She says many students perform poorly in national examination because they are not well motivated.

helpful student

"My mother has been my mentor and she has really inspired me to work hard and pass my examination," says Lydia who wants to be a doctor specialising as an Oncologist. "So many Kenyans are afflicted with cancer and I want to help them get treated to alleviate their pain and suffering," she says.

At Kenya High, her performance was always good, a feat that saw her represent the school at an international student exchange programme in the US.

"She has always been a respectful, corporative and helpful student. She was enthusiastic, ambitious and with excellent academic ability," says the Kenya High School Principal Rosemary Saina.

Ms Grace Mwangasha, her mother who is a teacher, says six of her children have schooled at Kenya High and thanked her daughters’ teachers for their contribution.

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