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Koelel Boys: The barracks for adventurous ‘soldiers’

 CID Director Ndegwa Muhoro, Bishop Mark and Lawyer Cliff Ombeta. Photo: Courtesy

This secondary school in Nakuru County was thrust into the limelight mid last year when students bribed a guard and spent a night at the nearby Gilgil Girls from where they were flushed out and suspended.

Koelelians or ‘soldiers’ (the school is inside the Gilgil military base) had illustrious heads...like Gichuki Kenda, the headmaster for almost two decades. Nicknamed ‘T9 Lethal’ for his legendary boxing skills, he either caned or boxed ‘soldiers’ into submission. He was loved nevertheless. His deputy was ‘Export,’ so-named after Tusker Export lager, denoting his short stature.

Headteacher PA Orega’s reign ended bullying and using the word ‘mono’ led to suspension. ‘Soldiers’ loved the motherly Mrs Kianga, wife of retired General Jeremiah Kianga, as well as preferring military lorries to ‘Phantom,’ the rusty school bus gassed by celebrated driver Livingstone, who often sped to and from functions annoying boys. In protest, they once stuck chewing gum on his seat!

‘Magego’ was the feared school chef. Magego means teeth in Kikuyu. Magego prepared tons of githeri daily with the occasional cabbage, meat and ugali, while bread and boiled eggs were served on Sundays. But adventurous ‘soldiers’ roasted stolen goats and chicken from a cliff leading to a Sh700 fine each for the culinary offence!

Notable alumni guided by the motto ‘Knowledge is Immortal’ include criminal lawyer Cliff Ombeta, Deliverance Church Bishop Mark Kariuki, Army Commander Lt-Gen Kariuki Kibochi, Deputy Air Force Commander, Major General Njunee and Directorate of Criminal Investigations head, Ndegwa Muhoro. He was the best volleyball talent the school ever had and also a cop (prefect), thus he wore maroon blazers and not the regular navy blue blazers, grey trousers, light blue shirts and red ties of ‘commoners.’

Kiswahili expert and cultural scholar Ken Walibora (who coined the name eneo bunge for constituency) attended ‘Koe’ as did Nairobi University Kiswahili scholar Prof Iribe Mwangi and Maasai Mara University history Prof Omwoyo Moenga.

Others who sang the anthem, We are Koelelians and we come from the barracks, include The Star editor Francis Mureithi who headed the Koelel Journalism Club, NGO Coordination Board deputy executive director, Andrew Ogombe, PricewaterhouseCoopers assistant manager Patrick Mwirigi and Barclays Bank’s Commercial Services head, Jacob Otsyula.

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