Kenya’s oldest school stands tall 164 years later
Last updated on 3 Jun 2012 00:00
By Amos Kareithi
The simple looking rectangular buildings, with their faded whitewash once held great expectations to the two pioneers who hoped to utilise it as a stepping stone to civilise a people they perceived to be barbaric and ungodly.
The pioneers’ optimism is manifest through the materials used to erect the buildings. Mud mixed with stones and limestone liberally applied to plaster the walls plus lots of prayers seem to have done the trick.
The mud and stonewalls have stuck together through thick and thin, outliving the constructors; the beautiful architecture still remains standing, more than a century and a half later.
Built in 1848, the classrooms have withstood rough times for 164 years, rarely making any demands of the occupants, except an occasional coat of paint or a new roof. Evidently, the makuti thatch originally made from the resilient coconut leaves as a cover for the buildings has succumbed to the elements, and so too has some of the timber.
Introducing Christianity The local community has however grown wiser, replacing the makuti with heavy gauge iron sheets. But despite having a longer life, the sheets have also been replaced on a number of occasions after being reduced to a sieve by the weather.
Despite these cosmetic changes the classrooms that make Kenya’s oldest formal school has continued to impart knowledge: nurturing young brains for the betterment of society.
It is ironic that this cradle of western civilisation that was once a crucible of knowledge in East Africa, boasting of expertise from Europe, Asia and Africa, is named after a local lad, immortalising his name.
Rather than be named after the founders, Ludwig Krapf and Johannes Rebmann, the institution that was established in 1848 in Rabai, in Kaloleni, is named after Isaac Nyundo who hailed from there.
It was started by these pioneer missionaries who pitched camp in Rabai in the hope of introducing Christianity so as to convert Africans to the new religion and inculcate western values through formal education.