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PSC Commissioner Mumelo: How Moi made me a School Principal

NAIROBI
By Rawlings Otieno | February 7th 2020

A member of the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC), Lonah Mumelo (pictured), is a familiar name in Kenya’s education sector.

Unknown to many, it was former President Daniel Toroitich arap Moi who plucked her from obscurity - this and her excellent credentials garnered over the years.

Sometime back in the 1990s, Mumelo was teaching at Namawanga Girls Secondary School in today’s Bungoma County. She was in job group M, which made her a junior headteacher.

At that time, the most senior school administrator was in Job Group P, under the title ‘Principal,’ which was a highly coveted position.

At about the same time, a delegation of leaders from her Tachoni community was on its way to visit the President at his Kabarak home.

Unknown to them, Moi had already inquired who was on the list of his visitors. By then, the Tachoni had not produced a single school principal, and the former president noticed this.

When the delegation floated her name, Moi immediately ordered her promoted to the principal. She did not even know of her promotion until she was called by the Teachers Service Commission to pick her promotion letter. 

“I was not part of the delegation, but they mentioned my name and he (Moi) promoted me there and then,” recounts Dr Mumelo.

Long before that, Mumelo remembers Moi visiting her school, Lugulu Girls. She was in Form Four and the school captain. She was the soloist, as the students serenaded the president. Because of her performance, Moi left a bag of goodies for the school.

“Mzee loved music and he was very humorous. I was a soloist and I remember he joined in the dancing and was very happy,” she recounts.

Following her promotion, Mumelo would encounter the president again after she was transferred to Moi Girls Nangili, one of Moi’s cherished education projects.

According to Mumelo, every time the president was on the Eldoret–Kitale route, he would stop by Moi Girls Nangili, where he would be entertained with song and dance, and leave behind a bag of goodies for the girls.

When she was transferred to Busiada Girls, Moi again met Mumelo’s students during a visit to Busia.

“We had gone out to meet him and as usual we entertained him with song and dance. He then asked: “What do you want me to give you?’ I answered: ‘We want a school bus,’” she recounts.

“If I give you a bus here, the public will make a lot of noise,” replied Moi. He then gave the school some Sh200,000, which the school used to buy its first television set.

Mumelo would later become chair of the Kenya Secondary School Heads Association. During her tenure, teacher promotions were streamlined further.

“It was during Moi’s reign that job groups were created at the Teachers Service Commission so that a classroom teacher could ascend the ladder up to Job Group R without necessarily being in the administration,” she recounts. The rest is history, as Mumelo went on to rise through the ranks to become a household name in education and administration circles. Today, she sits in the PSC.

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