“Humans, not places, make memories.” ―Ama Ata Aidoo
When we come together, we fondly touch a place in us that only great friends and those we consider family can understand. This was the theme and the mood at Kianyaga Boys High School when Alumni met for a second reunion and official launch of their association. Started in 1963, Kianyaga Boys High School has been home to thousands of young men who have transitioned into greatness. The school is located in Gichugu, Kirinyaga County. It has a population of 1,060 students, 5 class streams and hoping to expand to 6th stream soon.
On 1st December 2018, Kianyaga Alumni gathered at one of the school halls to launch an Alumni association; the group had a diverse representation of old boys – from the 70s to the present day. The “old boys” went round the school reminiscing the life, the teachers they forever remember, the places they were fond of, the food they enjoyed, the dormitories they slept in, the prefects they didn’t like, the games they perfected and the punishments they endured in pursuit of excellence. We had a chat with Kianyaga Alumni Association Organising secretary, Felix and here’s a snippet of the interview;
How did you come together as a group?
It all started on social media; someone arranged a reunion back in the school on Facebook. The highlight was a “mbuzi” and a good time as former students of the school. About 300 of us showed up; that’s how we first connected and our story began. At the reunion, different engagements ensued and a decision to begin an alumni association was floated.
In the end, an interim committee was elected that would spearhead the registration of the association. Starting an alumni network takes a fierce conviction and determination to follow through, to a point of success. There are many low moments compared to “aha” moments.
How long did it take to finally register?
This was the longest, hardest part of anything I know with an alumni network. The process took two years. There were many issues that we had not thought through. Drafting the constitution and bylaws were time consuming, costly and many gave up.
Any other challenges you came across while forming the association?
Ooh yes. More than you can imagine. It was tough bringing people together. Group formation is not easy. Many gave up on the process including the persons that were the initial pillars of the Alumni formation. The frustrations were real. Communication became a challenge, harmonising the group given its diverse representation in age and social status was also hard. Moreover, we also needed funds for different activities and mobilizing people to give money was not easy.
How did you overcome the challenges?
We consulted widely among ourselves, allowing many thoughts and opinions from the alumni for inclusivity. We went out of our way to consult and benchmark with other Alumni networks to get a clear direction. We had lengthy discussions with the Alumni leadership of Kagumo boys, Limuru girls, Alliance boys and Mangu high. Their input greatly helped us to shape our own association and finally come up with what we have now.
What future plans do you have for your former school?
We need to completely dispose off Asbestos in some of the school’s buildings. We also need to offer a helping hand to our principal in consolidating parcels of land in our school, properly title it, and fence.
Our long-term plan is to improve our school and construct more dormitories to accommodate the new/ expected additional stream. We also intend to tarmac specific areas of the school compound, build staff houses to ensure more in-house teachers, and carry out tiling in the school.
We will also frequent the school to mentor the young men by sharing our life experiences and our professional expertise. This will be done either as a group or by individuals.