Mambere School: Where Jomo Kenyatta learnt how to read

Mambere School now Musa Gitau Primary School. Photo: Courtesy

Mambere School was established in 1901 in Kikuyu, Kiambu County.

The journey of the school started when Scottish missionaries arrived in Kikuyu in late 1890s. A jovial Munyua wa Waiyaki, son of the famous Kikuyu leader Waiyaki wa Hinga, offered them 100 acres of the forest in Thogoto highlands.

The missionaries built a church and Mambere school for boys and girls. Here they were taught Christianity as well as formal education. Girls would attend classes in the evening after working for whites. Later in 1909, the school put up dormitories for both boys and girls. Classrooms were however shared.

The founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta (then called Johnstone Kamau wa Ngengi) and Musa Gitau who became the first Kenyan PCEA minister were the first students to enroll.

In the 1950s the school was renamed Kikuyu Intermediate School

— but boarding section was halted during the state of emergency. In 1960 the name changed from Mambere to Thogoto Junior School. It is during this time that girls’ boarding section was also done away with. In 1975 the school was named Musa Gitau Primary school

— in honour of the late PCEA minister. The school’s expansive land and facilities were developed to have Kikuyu Day Secondary school and Musa Gitau Girls’ Secondary School.

The school produced some of the notable figures among them, Kenyatta’s daughter, Margaret Wambui who passed away recently. Wambui was the third African mayor of Nairobi City Council. She sat for her Kenya African Preliminary Examination (KAPE) in Mambere after moving from Ruthimitu Primary School in Dagoretti.

Rahab Njeri, Mother of Kenya’s first black Commissioner of Police Bernard Hinga, and the Secretary of Kenya African Union women’s wing Sarah Sarai, went to the school. Israel-trained agriculturalist Zippora Naisenya Likiman

— the first Maasai girl to school was also molded at Mambere School.

Former Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Munyua Waiyaki, Senator Beth Mugo, the late Finance and Defence Minister James Gichuru and the late Nakuru politician Kihika Kimani are Mamberians.

Others who learnt to read and write at Mambere School are the late Health and Defence Minister Dr Njoroge Mungai, Comptroller of State House Eliud Mathu, former Limuru MP Jonathan Njenga, former Kipiripiri MP Kimani Nyoike, late politician Wambui Otieno Mbugua and Jemimah Gecaga

— who was chairperson Nation Media Group and BAT Kenya Ltd.

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