• Magoha was a good man in the sense that he did not come across as someone who now having been given a plum appointment, his priority was to eat.
• A good man in the sense that rolling up his sleeves and going to work to improve education in Kenya was his one and only mission.
In his condolence message, President William Ruto lauded Prof George Magoha’s accomplishments as an academic and as Education Cabinet Secretary, terming him "a towering giant of our time".
The President further described Magoha as “ ... a great man who stood tall in the academy, where he excelled in learning, teaching and research, as well as in administration, where he led robust turnaround interventions at the University of Nairobi and the Kenya National Examinations Council.”
Messages from other leaders, family, friends, and ordinary Kenyans in social media poured all night and day following the announcement of the sudden death of this towering giant.
Each echoed the President’s message in one form or another. The common denominator was what a good and decent man the good professor and medic was.
Death is inevitable but what others say about you when you’re long gone should encourage everyone to live a life that will be missed because you were exemplary and caring in every respect.
Magoha was more than that. As is often the case with public figures, he was unknown to many outside his academic and professional circles before his appointment as Knec chairman and later Education CS.
It is said never judge a book by its cover but seeing the photo of the man in the news splash gave me a good vibe that this could not be but a good man. A good man in the sense that he did not come across as someone who now having been given a plum appointment, his priority was to eat.
A good man in the sense that rolling up his sleeves and going to work to improve education in Kenya was his one and only mission. A good man in the sense that hungering for more power and not minding one bit stepping over others or running them over to get to this wicked objective was not in his bone. A good man in the sense that the success of others, including fellow colleagues, is something to be happy about not to undercut or try to prevent.
Those are the qualities of a good man, and of course a good woman.
But they are wanting in many a cases in public service going back to our independence and even more acutely so in politics and political appointments. Magoha represented and epitomized what a true civil servant should be — solely focused on delivering for the good of the people and nothing else.
Our country would have gone far in economic prosperity were it not for men who lacked Magoha’s qualities. Men who were, in fact, the opposite of what Magoha represents as a good man. I am deliberate in saying “men” because in my experience I have never come across where that was true of any woman.
Okay, one case comes to mind but that was more about a relatively junior officer, broke so she stood in the way of implementation of a certain project that could have created many jobs because she was more focused on eating than getting that project off the ground. This is usually the province of men, meaning, eating without doing anything to get a project done. But don’t count men like Magoha in that crowd.
As we mourn this good man, let us all be reminded being a good man or woman is a virtue within the reach for everyone. If you are or become one, you can count on being remembered as one and that alone is the best way to say thank you to God for the life He has given you.
It is unfathomable for those who are good men and good women to understand how one lives a life where power has gotten into their heads and using that power to frustrate or undercut others in achieving their own success. Jealousy and envy may explain it in part, but it is also another added quality for Magoha as he had neither.
May the good professor and doctor rest in peace.