- Mwangi believes he inherited his love for maths from his father, a statistician
- The graduate of UoN and Makerere has been in the civil service for 28 years
KNBS director general Zachary Mwangi, 53, had no shoes when he joined primary school in his rural home in Murang’a years ago.
Born in a family of 12, life was not easy as their father – a statistician - was the sole breadwinner.
Now with 28 years in the civil service, the census boss says the early lessons of life have been the engine that drove him to the top of the statistics agency.
“We grew up knowing everybody in the village at that time. There was a lot of support from the community. A child belonged to the community during that time.
“It was a simple life. I went to a primary school where we were not even wearing shoes,” Mwangi told the Star in an interview on Friday.
The humble beginnings, Mwangi said, shaped his zeal to work hard in school and later join government.
“Most of the time, the people we saw do government work were district officers. I wanted to become like them,” he said.
Luckily for him, he had elder brothers who set the bar high in education. The firstborn graduated from Makerere University.
"My brother was very supportive. During the holidays, one could visit him in Nairobi and that was a very big deal then.”
Mwangi went to local primary and secondary schools before joining Shimo La Tewa High School for Form Five and Six.
He topped their class that year, earning him entry to university among the five candidates who qualified.
The KNBS boss says it was at Shimo la Tewa where he nurtured his mathematics skills, having been good at numbers "a trait he inherited from his late father".
Mwangi’s father worked at East African Statistical Department of the pre and post-independence era.
In 1986, Mwangi began his Economics course at the University of Nairobi and graduated with first class honours in 1990.
“The people who did the course were absorbed by the government and I joined the Ministry of Planning where I was posted as district development officer in Trans Nzoia for four years.
“In 1994 I came back to the ministry as an economist. Progressively, through hard work I rose to chief economist in the ministry.”
In between the positions, he graduated with a master in economic policy and management from Makerere University.
In 2008, the Central Bureau of Statistics was transformed into KNBS, a semi-autonomous agency with many directorates.
Following the changes, Mwangi was named director of macroeconomics and statistics, a position he held for two-and-half years.
The man who will be in charge of the August 24 census was named acting director general of KNBS and was confirmed to the post in June 2012.