Mwaura Sam,Gakinya J and Muriithi B
It was beautifully done, the vision was calling, the mission was noble, the speakers were inspiring; the audience was enthusiastic and embraced the good cause.
The power and might of Kenyatta University Motto “ Elimu ni Nguvu “ and the foundations motto ‘Enhancing higher education through partnerships’ were witnessed on the night of the 27th August, as Kenyatta University launched their Foundation at Worcester, MA. The auspicious occasion was graced by among others the Vice chancellor Professor Olive Mugenda, Dr Martin Mwangi Thuo of Harvard University, Mr. Benson Wairegi the chairman of KU council, Mr. Sammy Kyungu KU council member, Prof ole Moi Yoi, Chairman Kenya Agricultural Research Institute and former chairman of KU council,a representative from the Kenyan Embassy in US Lucy Kiruthu, Prof. Frederique Gravenir, Director University Advancement and Several staff members and students from Kenyatta University.
The Armenian hall in Worcester, MA turned into an academic power hall as the ‘intelligentsia’ and academicians from across the USA and Kenya gathered to mark the launch of Kenyatta Foundation. Despite the serious threat posed by hurricane Irene and the governs declaration of a state of emergency warnings that Saturday evening, the turnout was impressive as Kenyans in the Diaspora and KU alumni made it to the event. A group of 25 brave KU alumni drove through the treacherous conditions all the way from Binghamton, NY to come and share in the visionary leadership and the hope that the foundation brings to the students of Kenyatta University.
Kenyatta Foundation is a non-profit whose entity is to solicit funds, and material support, to support scholarship in order to enhance equity and participation in accessing higher education and create collaborative networks at a global platform. The presence of the foundation to the Diaspora community is envisaged to facilitate closer working relationships between the University and her alumni, friends and other partners in regard to fundraising, advocacy, scholarships and general development.
Professor Mugenda, the KU vice chancellor, took the audience through a presentation of the institution ten years strategic plan and the transformations they have gone through within the five years she has headed the institution. It was indeed a complete transformation to see the “before” and ‘after’ of KU. The state of the art architecture was impressive. The future focus and designs of the institution are classic.
As part of gaining from the brain drain, Prof Mugenda appealed and encouraged Kenyans in the Diaspora with PhD and Masters Degree qualifications to apply for relevant openings in KU and other institutions. She applauded the holistic training, knowledge and skills acquired by Kenyan students; in the US Schools, Colleges, Universities and Educational institutions. She added this would be very meaningful if transferred to our country Kenya.
Prof Mugenda emphasized how KU is striving to become a world-class institution and a hub for academic excellence with the university spreading its wings to encompass more disciplines – a policy driven by the government’s Vision 2030. The University is striving to create an enabling environment that enhances the production of leadership for cultural, economic, political, scientific, social, technological and industrial transformation in line with the Kenya Vision 2030. The VC, emphasized on the transformation and modification of Kenyatta University from just a College (Constituent college of University of Nairobi) to a world class University, meant to serve national and international community. Her speech also stressedthe need to financially support orphaned and vulnerable students (OVS – students who have lost both parents or one of their parents who was the sole provider). A Video was played which showed student explaining their problems and some stating how the program has helped them get back on their feet.
Dr Martin Mwangi Thuo of Harvard University and Seeding Labs and a KU Alumni spearheaded the launching of the foundation in Worcester. Dr Mwangi has in the past, helped to donate lab equipment’s and Latest editions (2011/2012) of medical text books worth millions of dollars in collaboration with Boston-based partners. Dr Mwangi’s speech to the alumni of KU and friends of the institution was a philanthropic call. He urged Kenyans to respond to the call of giving back to the community and institutions that have made each one of us what we are.
Professor Ole Yo Moi a distinguished scholar and renown as one of Africa’s most accomplished molecular biologists and former Director at the International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) in Nairobi was a key note speaker. Professor Ole Moyoi is the current Chairman of Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI). His message was on the need to build regional collaborations and create professional networking avenues to help in creativity, innovations and expansions. He emphasized the need to create linkages and collaborations with institutions; research centers, government labs and universities, across the globe to help realize solutions for our continent.
Other guest speakers included Mr. Benson Wairegi, chairman, Kenyatta University Council. Mr. Wairegi is a seasoned captain of corporate leadership. He is the Group Managing Director of British-American Investments Company (Kenya) Ltd., the parent company to British-American Insurance Company (K) Ltd and British-American Asset Managers Limited. Mr. Wairegi looked forward to accelerating growth that has characterized Kenyatta university institution.
Mr. Paul Waithaka of the Kenya Monitor in the Diaspora enlivened the alumni spirit and generosity of the Diaspora community. To jump on board with the objectives of KU foundation and crown the occasion Mr. Waithaka led the audience in a warm up fundraiser to kick off the good cause. In an impromptu ‘harambee’ the Kenyans in attendance raised funds for the first donation to the foundation, engraving their names in history as the first donors to a Kenyan university foundation.
The audience was entertained by one of the most celebrated top comedian Daniel Ndambuki aka “Churchill” alongside members of Kenyatta University Travelling theatre and the KU band. Churchill thrilled the audience by conveying his exceptional brilliance and knack of comedy to ‘update’ the Diaspora community on what they had missed out being away from home. The variety of music from popular KU band was appealing to all ages.
The KU foundation goals are to enhance KU academic endeavors as a center of excellence through collaborations and scholarships. Check the website for more information (www.kenyattauniversityfoundation.org or the mirror site www.ku.co.ac.ke/foundation). Dr. Martin Thuo who is the Executive Director organized the Successful launch.
We all joined together, visitors who flew from Kenya and from all over the states, others drove several hour within Massachusetts to come and witness the launch of the first Kenya University foundation the only kind in the US and Kenya. In a moving, short speech given by the young, ambitious, and intelligent president of KUSA (Kenyatta university student association), Mr. Antony N. L. Akoto, we envisioned firsthand the need for the foundation. He mentioned how the students have decided to join the fight and raise money to help their fellow students achieve their education goals. Their association has raised about 10 million Kenyan shillings to support the poor students in Kenyatta University.