NAIROBI: On top of the undulating Limuru escarpments on the edges of the Great Rift Valley lies a national gem that has been taking the performance stage by storm.
It is hard to believe that, the little known Kamandura Girls High School has bagged some of the most treasured national trophies in music as well as film this year.
Having won two national trophies on anti-corruption themed ‘Our Values, Our Inheritance, Our Destiny’ with their verse ‘Njoo Tuhifadhi’ by Nickson Nangide, as well as one on anti-terrorism, entitled ‘Shimo’ by the same author, the girls were among those selected to perform before President Uhuru Kenyatta.
And it is not hard to see why these girls have been the star attraction given their display of energy, commitment and sheer artistry on stage.
“Tuhifadhi maadili, na uwe urithi wetu, madili nd’o ngao yetu” (Let us keep our national values as our heritage and foundation as a society) went part of the verse rendered in rhythmic and harmonised vocals.
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Yet, these are not the only national trophies the school bagged this year. In April, they rose from obscurity to emerge top with their film Anti-Dre produced by the School Principal Faith Muchiri.
The flick was seen by the jury as based on real social issues close to Kenyans especially education and how drugs have come in to destroy the lives of children.
Anti-Dre is about Mark who is a rogue drug baron who doubles as a teacher and goes ahead to recruit some of his students as drug dealers within the school.
A watchful student, Cathy, wants to smoke him out, but is blackmailed by the teacher. Undeterred she and a few other colleagues move to expose his under-dealings although she is worried about losing her scholarship.
The story climaxes with the arrest and eventual stop of the drug menace at the school. Magdalene Mwihaki scooped the best actress overall for her performance in Anti-Dre as the main actress while Winnie Kamau gave a credible show.
“I felt rejuvenated and today I have a greater sense of self-confidence and I know given more opportunities I can shine even more,” says Magdalene who cannot forget to thank her teachers and colleagues for the rare feat.
The Film has gone on to win global acclaim after it was nominated to feature in the Out of Africa International Film Festival that was happening at the National Museum of Kenya from October 30 to November 1, 2015.
But, how does a nondescript school that was only recently a District day school come out so strongly to beat established schools in Kenya?
“Here at Kamandura, we invest a lot in students’ abilities in all areas and I think that investment is now bearing fruits,” the Principal says as she proudly displays the over three dozen trophies in her office.
Ms Muchiri, who has seen the school develop from a single stream day school to a four-stream boarding school, has done well including building a state-of-the-art hall where students get to horn their skills.
“If only we could secure a school bus, we would achieve more both in the co-curricular and academic front,” she says adding that the invite to perform before President Uhuru Kenyatta at State Lodge Kisumu was a great achievement for the school.
Muchiri says while the school daily programme starts early to enable them pay special attention to the academics, there are specific days set aside extra-curricular activities which ensures all-round development of the student.
“These achievements would not be possible without cooperation from my staff, discipline and dedication from the students and I want to appreciate them for this,” the visibly proud principal says.
She says the sky is the limit and observes that in the coming year, the school intends to redouble its efforts to not only retain the titles but also break into new frontiers.