Nakuru’s ‘Mr Do Good’ who prefers to keep off politics » Capital News

NAKURU, Kenya, Mar 21 — For his goodness and far-reaching voluntary work from supporting orphans, widows and drilling water for needy communities, John Mwangi is a highly appreciated and cherished man in Nakuru County.

However, he has no interest in politics, whatsoever, despite the numerous requests to join, from elders who go to the extent of assuring him that he doesn’t need to campaign because they will do it on his behalf.

But, election after election his stand remains the same. He says: “There are many ways of serving people and politics is just one of them, and l have chosen the noble one of always standing with what l know, and understand best, the poor.’’

John Mwangi and his nine siblings were born and brought up at Bondeni estate in Nakuru. However, what stood out for their family was the abject poverty they endured on a daily basis. They lived in a single room where the brothers, sisters and parents simply slept on the floor. The only privacy for his parents’ ‘bedroom’ was just a curtain held by two nails of the two corners of the single room. The difference between the house and the outside was blurred since more often than not, they cooked outside while staring at the starry stars.

Surprisingly, young Mwangi never even realized that they were poor, since that was the life some of their neighbours lived, and he didn’t know any better.

The children in the community attended Bondeni Primary school and went to the African Inland Mission Church (AIM), which later changed the name to African Inland Church (AIC).

Miraculously, he passed his Kenya Certificate of Primary Examination (KCPE) and was selected to join the Nakuru Day Secondary School, which was one of the élite secondary schools, at the level of the famous Menengai and Kisumu Boys Secondary schools then.

But his joy was short-lived. During the first parade, the headteacher ordered the form ones to remain behind, and he told those who had paid school fees to stand on his right hand and the ones who hadn’t on the left side. Unfortunately, Mwangi was the only forlorn boy on the left side and he was sent home, even before stepping inside the classroom.  

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When he arrived home, his sickly father told him to be grateful to God for what he had already achieved and look for employment.

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Young boys wondering the streets of Nakuru city, unwilling to join a school/KNA    

Without any bitterness, he accepted his father’s advice and started the difficult task of job searching. His mother could not assist. Since she was the only breadwinner, she left the house at dawn daily to get wild vegetables from farms to sell at the estate.

However, that evening Mwangi continued with his daily routine of training their local church choir because he enjoyed singing and he had learnt the music notes from their music leader.

After one month, a missionary joined their church from the USA. He admired his dedication and devotion to the choir but was surprised that he wasn’t attending school.

After a church service, the missionary invited him to his house and offered him a job, but ordered that he would only work in the evenings and weekends after attending school.

All his payments were channeled to his school fees at the Nakuru Day Secondary School. “To say that l was delighted and jubilant, is an understatement, impossible to describe in mere words,” said Mwangi.

When he got to form three, the missionary returned to the USA and once again he was left stranded, but grateful that he had managed to attend high school for three years.

After staying out for an entire term, a church elder offered to pay his school fees to enable him to get the Kenya Certificate for Secondary Education. Gladly, he dusted his books and returned to school.

Despite having passed, he knew there wasn’t any need of pushing his luck any further and he got a job at the CMC motor vehicle company.

Shortly after, the Ministry of Public Works Advertised jobs in the local newspapers. He applied and was among the lucky ones employed.

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As he progressed, he never abandoned his treasured choir. After one year of working as a civil servant, a letter from the Missionary, who had returned to the USA when he was in form three, arrived at their church. Inside the letter was admission forms to Join Pace University in New York, another unanticipated miracle for Mwangi.

 The church fundraised for his ticket, which was the only requirement from the Missionary, and he left for New York.

After studying and working for two years, he came home for a six weeks’ holiday, bought land and built his parents a permanent house.

“When the hired lorry arrived at our one-room house to pick my family and their meagre household goods, the neighbours protested and demanded to be shown where l was taking them to since neither of them could comprehend how l had managed to achieve such a feat within a short time,” he said.

Finally, when they arrived at the house and he handed his mother the key, she refused to open it and admonished him for enticing her to do the unthinkable, trespassing into other people’s houses.

The neighbours, who had accompanied them from Bondeni estate, inquired from the area residents to confirm whether the claims of young Mwangi were true. Then the simple house opening was turned into a celebration and songs of praising a God who never abandons His people.

After completing his studies, he returned home, but, rejected all job offers in Nairobi, and only the International Christian Children Aid, an NGO, appreciated the reason why he could not work anywhere else, other than his memorable home town- Nakuru where he has changed the poor’s lives one at a time. And, his name is esteemed. 

John Mwangi’s advice to those who want to assist the poor, “please treat them with dignity, and never give them false hopes, just like the missionary, who left without promising him or the church anything, because at the time he wasn’t sure of further assistance to him.” 

He said his greatest sadness is the ever-increasing street children in the city, and worse still their unwillingness to join school, even when they were offered assistance.   

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