Since 1901

Kianyaga High: Gachagua ate githeri laced with kerosene

Old school

Kianyaga High is a boys-only public school in Raimu Sub-location, Baragwi location in Gichugu constituency. The school was established in the 1960s through fundraising by the local community.  Although the idea was mocked by some people, the elders persisted to see the establishment of the first A-level educational institution in Kirinyaga. Today, the institution is a force to reckon with.

The school acquired the nickname Kalahari (the Southern Africa desert)due to the harsh conditions that were part of school life. The first dormitories were mud-walled. They were phased out in the 1980s.

Kianyaga administrators today say they are focused on providing a wholesome experience. The school provides diverse programmes, which ensure alongside academic excellence, students are all-rounded and are able to make positive contributions in society. As such, the school has over the years strived to provide the values of patriotism, self-reliance, respect, adaptability, cooperation, self-discipline, and a sense of purpose.

Mr Kano Ndombi was a dreaded no-nonsense disciplinarian who made sure thorough, regular impromptu searches were done at the school. They were aimed at weeding out stuff such as bhang, kuber and other substances from students.

During such searches, food items were also confiscated. Here, running was the school norm and woe unto students who were found walking by Mr Ndombi. However, cases of indiscipline and student disturbances were still common. At the school, even teachers fought the first-language inhibition when speaking English. Former students still remember teachers who used to speak with the heavy mother tongue accents.

Githeri (corn and beans) was the staple food and students dreaded days when the meal was mixed with kerosene to reportedly cool their sex hormones. However, students looked forward to Fridays, when rice and meat was served and days when tea and a piece of bread were on the menu.

Notable alumni guided by the motto ‘Enter to Excel, Exit to Prosper’ include Mathira MP and now United Democratic Alliance presidential candidate’s running mate Mr Rigathi Gachagua and lawyer Mr Ndegwa Njiru.

Others who wore white shirts, grey trousers and green sweaters include former National Youth Service director-general Dr Nelson Githinji, Mr Jeffithah Karua, one of the directors at the Kenya Tea Development Agency, Mr Wachira Muyah, an engineer at the East Africa Breweries Limited, and Prof Jefitha Karimurio, chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Nairobi.