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Old School: 15 more of the most legendary school principals in Kenya


The Nairobian compiled a list of legendary school principals across the country two weeks ago. One of them, Kibet Kiptum of Sunshine Secondary School, sadly died this week. Our condolences to the family, friends, staff, students and parents. The list elicited reaction from across section of Kenyans who felt that some able principals were left out.  Here are some of the names we received from our readers:

1. Gaylord Avedi: He was the principal of Musingu High School, later Kakamega and Musingu High schools before rising to Permanent Secretary (the Ministries for Co-operative Development and Energy) and now Chief of Staff, Vihiga County Government. He was never scared of angry, riotous students who dispersed immediately he stared at them with his sharp eyes (nicknamed ‘Torch’). Academically, his schools fared well.

2.  John Kinaro Livingstone: The former boxing champion at University of Dar-es-Salaam was the principal of Musingu, Kakamega and Kisii high schools. Kenneth Agunda on Facebook said Kinaro dealt firmly with rascals who broke school rules.

3. Mrs Rebecca Karanja: She was the principal of Alliance (Bush) Girls who often told her learners that: “There is no platform in life where you go to give excuses why you didn’t succeed,” and “It doesn’t matter what happens to you, but rather how you handle what happens to you.” Mrs Karanja steered Bush between 1985 and 2002. Her reign was also marked by a student protest march against her in 2001- the first in 54 years at the time!

4.Fr Hilary Wambugu: Fondly nicknamed ‘Kahia,’ and ‘Gathee,’ this disciplinarian commanded respect that moulded the character of many who passed through Nyeri High (Kavau) between 1983 and 1998. He died in 2014.

5. Robert Masese: The current Director of Secondary and Tertiary Education in the Ministry of Education is remembered by Edu Ng’etuga as his headmaster at Chebara Boys. He rose through the ranks and would later be the principal at Nairobi School, taking the school to the top 10.

6. Kiprono Lang’at: He made men out of boys at Njoro Boys. Tony Gitau remembers him as ‘Gende’ as he told students he’d pull them by their balls.

7. Sylvester Gakumu: The former Ambassador to DRC was the principal at Nguviu Boys where Jackson Kiminje remembers him for transforming a village school into a tiger that competed with national giants.

8. Miss Margaret Odhiambo: She was a visionary patriot who imbued in her girls a sense of limitlessness and a passion for life. She was an amazing woman and headteacher at Limuru Girls. A fierce fighter she was.

9. John Awiti: He was the principal of  Rapogi, St Mary’s Yala and Kisumu Boys which he raised from ashes to glory, says Zachayo Ochieng.

10. JK Ndumbi: Principal at Murang’a High School, he would call out names of indisciplined students during parade and  say, “Gentlemen, this morning I am going to show you how important you are and how useless you can be!”

11. Mrs Ebby Kavai: Principal at Bishop Sulumeti Girls. Loviette Nílly on Facebook says Mrs Kavai turned girls into women of substance. She is currently the county Education executive in Kakamega.

12. Abraham Githuka: The no nonsense man at Njiiris. Kevin Gikurumi remembers his carefree disciplinarian attitude. He was deputy in Kirwara high school and later principal at Baricho Boys.

13. Sister Rita Itebete: She was the nun in charge at Mukumu Girls. KUPPET Chairman Omboko Milemba once told The Nairobian that on getting an appointment letter to the school, Sister Rita looked at him at length and then recommended him to another school because he was very handsome!

14. Opondo Ogeta: He was the principal of Kisumu Boys who would later head to Kabarnet Boys. His motto was, “There is a time for everything.” That’s according to Philip Ogony.

15. Lazarus Chebii: The no-nonsense principal at Lelboinet High School is now at IEBC.

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