AGAINST ALL ODDS

Resilient Meru chief went back to school after 18 years

Drops out of Chogoria Boys in 1990, sits KCSE in 2009, is now a university graduate

In Summary

• The youngest KCPE candidate at Mikinduri Primary School in 1989, Mutiga scored 475 marks out of a possible 700.

• He only returned to complete his secondary school education in 2008 after 18 years spent doing odd jobs and working with an evangelist.

Anjuki location chief Jacob Mutiga.
Anjuki location chief Jacob Mutiga.
Image: KNA

For those who think dropping out of school is the end of life, Chief Jacob Mutiga, 44, has a different story to tell.

Mutiga, the chief for Anjuki location in Tigania Central subounty, dropped out of school in Form 1 at Chogoria Boys due to school fees in 1990.

The youngest KCPE candidate at Mikinduri Primary School in 1989, Mutiga scored 475 marks out of a possible 700.

He only returned to complete his secondary school education in 2008 after 18 years spent doing odd jobs and preaching.

“My greatest desire when I rejoined school was to just secure a certificate and not about the grades,” Mutiga says. He lauds the introduction of day secondary schools in the Meru region at that time.

He recalls seeing a vacancy for a toilet cleaner while in Nairobi before he rejoined school. 

“I was challenged since the minimum qualification for the post was D in KCSE which I did not have even if I wished not to look for such a job. This is when I started imagining how useless I would be without a Form 4 certificate,” he says.

Determined to master his fate, Mutiga went to St Massimo Mixed Day Secondary School and requested for admission. 

The principal looked at his age and physique and asked him to produce Sh28,000 as school fees, he says.

“I did not lose hope despite being unable to raise the required amount,” he says.

He opted for a day school where the deputy principal, astonished, asked Mutiga whether he was seeking a chance for his son. 

After intense consultation among the staff at Mucuune Mixed Secondary School, Mutiga was given a chance to join the Form 3 class the following day.

“I arrived at the school at 5am ready to begin my classes. The headteacher, Mr Karau, found me in the compound reading with a candle. He was touched and became my greatest supporter,” the chief says.

Mutiga says the principal who was the Kiswahili teacher bought him two Kiswahili set books: Utengano and Kifo Kisimani.

He adds that on the same day he arrived, he was appointed the school head boy. With time, the school allowed him to have a phone in the compound.

Despite being out of school for nearly two decades, Mutiga emerged top in the first tests after he joined the school. He remained the top student until he sat his KCSE exams in 2009.

He says Form 1 and Form 2 work was so hard and used to give him a headache although to his surprise he scored an aggregate of B-, emerging the best candidate from the day schools around the region.

It seems his star had started glowing brightly because, in 2010 August, the post of the chief for Anjuki location was advertised. He applied, having met the minimum grade of a C+ and the 35-year age requirement.

“The contest was tight since there were many applicants but I emerged the best. In August 2011 I was appointed chief, a position I still hold to date,” he says with pride.

Since he had seen the benefits of education, Mutiga did not want any opportunity to go to waste.

The following year, he used his first salary to enrol for a bachelor’s degree in development studies at Mount Kenya University.

He graduated in 2015 and he is planning to enrol for his masters soon.

Mutiga was born in 1975 at Anjilo village, Anjuki location, then in Tigania East subounty of Meru.

Being the third born in the family of eight children, he says he used to cry wanting to go to school but he was still underage.

Sometimes, he would follow his older sister to school, which was only 400 metres from home.

The teachers later admitted him in Standard 1 in term two at Mikinduri primary.

He was second last in the exams but at the end of the third term, he had mastered lessons and emerged position two in their class.  

Chief Mutiga worked as an attendant at a Miti ni Dawa joint for two years in Mikinduri market in 1995. He found the work a bit challenging.

He later joined a Seventh-Day Adventist preacher in evangelism work.

Chief Mutiga does not regret the time he spent before completing his education since he believes that is how his life had been planned.

“It was a bit challenging being a father at the same time as a student. I would not sometimes carry on with my homework because of family commitments but I made it,” he says.

He thanks his wife for standing by him as he went back to school.