The Standard Group Plc is a multi-media organization with investments in media platforms spanning newspaper print operations, television, radio broadcasting, digital and online services. The Standard Group is recognized as a leading multi-media house in Kenya with a key influence in matters of national and international interest.
  • Standard Group Plc HQ Office,
  • The Standard Group Center,Mombasa Road.
  • P.O Box 30080-00100,Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Telephone number: 0203222111, 0719012111
  • Email: [email protected]

I dug graves to pay for my school fee - Award-winning gospel artiste Timothy Kitui

Musician Timothy Kitui
 Award-winning gospel artiste Timothy Kitui       Photo:Willia Awandu

How did you end up as a grave digger at such a young age?

As a school boy, I was condemned to poverty. I did not even have enough money for uniform. I was desperate.  I tried any job as long as I made money. I needed to pay my school fee. One day in 1998, a neighbour died and they needed people to dig the grave and I volunteered. I recruited a team and we dug the grave. After digging the grave, I remember they gave us a hen to slaughter. I was so excited since I had not tasted chicken for years. We were also paid Sh1,600. I pocketed the Sh600 and gave them the Sh1,000 to share. I decided to venture into that business.

What do you mean ‘venture into that business?’ 

I used to be on the lookout to find out who has died. I would then create a rapport with  the family and offer my services. It became my job, though it was really hard. From the money I made, I paid for my secondary school education.

Was the money enough?

Not really. I couldn’t afford very many things. In fact, while in Form Four, I received a set of  new school uniforms.  I was to represent Nabunga SA Secondary School in the national public speaking competition at Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi. I felt very awkward wearing new, clean clothes since I was used to wearing worn out clothes.

Did you clear school eventually?

I did my Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education and performed well. I joined Egerton University for a government-sponsored programme. But after one semester, I quit because my siblings were suffering. I was out of campus for four years was therefore discontinued.

What did you do all this time?

I was loading lorries. Believe you me, I could load a 65-bag canter on my own. That is when I got into Church ministry, leading praise and worship. One day, the pastor said they wanted to bless me. He asked me to find a nice girl and promised to finance my  wedding. However, after the service, I told him I wanted to go back to school instead. 

They held a fundraiser in church and raised Sh63,000 and I joined Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) in 2005 to pursue a degree in Disaster Management and International Diplomacy. Unfortunately, the money couldn’t cater for all my college needs. I regretted  joining the university, because life was really hard. I was comfortable for about a week. Out of the Sh63,000, only Sh1,000 was my pocket money which lasted for about a week. I was broke and depended on my friends for basic needs like  toothpaste.

Without money, how did you survive, how did you even pay fees?

After a month or two,  I approached the dean and asked if I could do anything for the university and earn some money. She gave me a work study job, which involved cleaning the library. I woke up at 4am to clean and arrange books. In second year, I got a promotion to the kitchen.  I used to work and eat from there. I had to clean sufurias, slice meat and even cook. My life changed. I never lacked food. I had it all. I had my first girlfriend whom I married in 2005 and graduated in 2009.

 So did you get a job after Campus?

No. I did not. I was still supporting my siblings. I came to Nairobi to look for a job, and ended up in Industrial Area in a printing company. Despite having a degree, I was loading boxes and sleeping outside Ambassadeur (Hotel). The street kids know me. I couldn’t even afford Sh70 fare to visit my friend at Baba Dogo. I managed to raise the fare after three weeks.

A few months later in 2009, I got a full scholarship at MMUST due to my exemplary performance at undergraduate level. I was called for Msc. in Diplomacy and International Relations. But I was still working as an examinations clerk for the Kenya Institute of Management. I have lived through the pain of poverty, and throughout my suffering, I felt like the world was against me. After my master’s degree I wrote Ndakhuyanza Omwami, a song that highlighted my status as a graduate street child who was thankful to the Lord.

What do you do presently?

  I teach at universities in town and manage a school for Catholic sisters. I am the Managing Director and Principal Consultant for Trinity Management, as well as a gospel musician. Last year, I won a Groove Award for Western Region Song of the Year and also won a Mwafaka Award for the Most Promising Western Region artiste. God has changed my story.

- Transcribed by Irvin Jalang’o

Related Topics


Trending Now


Popular this week


Recommended Articles

By Boniface Mithika Jun. 4, 2023
By Gloriah Amondi Jun. 4, 2023
By Jayne Rose Gacheri Jun. 4, 2023
By Esther Muchene Jun. 4, 2023