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Kenyan school that used State House as a dormitory

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 State House, Nairobi [Photo: Courtesy]

State House is the official residence of the President of Kenya and is well-known for its lush green gardens and tight security. Records, however, indicate that the house on the hill was at some point used as a dormitory by Lenana School in 1949 when it was the residence of the British Colonial Governor.

Then known as Duke of York School, the school was reserved for white students only within the Kenya Colony. All teachers were also white and students were drawn from the sons of British settlers, most of whom were farmers in outlying areas.

Students from the school were briefly housed at State House as they awaited completion of their dormitories and got to enjoy the nice ambience of the place. By the early 1960s, the school was fully developed with its own well-kept 9-hole golf course, rifle range, horse stables, a cricket oval with a cricket pavilion, and ample sports fields for rugby, football, hockey, swimming, tennis, squash, and other sports.

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After Kenya's independence in 1963, there were gradual changes that led to the first few black and Asian students being admitted in the mid-1960s. These pioneer students were subjected to severe conditions and discrimination before the school opened doors to other Kenyans. Black teachers began to be employed in the early 1970s and were similarly subjected to difficult circumstances. In recent years, Lenana School has consistently ranked among the best performing schools in national examinations and also prides itself in several co-curricular activities including drama and sports.

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