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Understanding the genesis of religion and education in Makueni, Kenya

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An online search for the Reverend George William Rhoads brings up multiple results associating him with the building of a road that links Machakos and Makueni counties.

The little-known American evangelist founded the Gospel Furthering Bible Church, and arguably made Mbanya in Makueni County the cradle of religion and development in the region and beyond.

Rev Rhoads arrived in Mbanya village, Makueni County, in 1903, aged 23 years, to a hostile reception.

He retreated to the more receptive neighbouring Mbooni, where he evangelised as endeared himself to the locals. That led to the birth of the Africa Inland Church (AIC) Mbooni Station.

With the assistance of local Christians, who had taken up Bible study, he helped translate the Bible into Kikamba in 1920 while still working for the African Inland Mission (AIM).

He was among the first missionaries to return to the United States after parting ways with AIM. But the reasons for his departure remain unclear.

Some reports claim he differed with the mission over the formula for sharing the money received from foreign missions.

Other reports say he differed with AIM on principle. While AIM was for strictly evangelising Africans, Mr Rhoads preferred offering a mixture of evangelism and education.

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Known locally as Loosi, the cleric had become a household name in the region by the time he returned to the United States.

He introduced coffee growing, making it a major cash crop in the hilly region.

Rhoads is also credited with the opening up of a road linking Machakos Town and Kikima township in Makueni County.

INFRASTRUCTURE

Rhoads mobilised the community to undertake the task, which took several months to complete. He served as both the engineer and supervisor, according to accounts by those who took part in the project.

The more than 70km road that cuts through Kwa Mutisya wa Ngomali, Kalawani, Kikima, and Kyambalasi remains untarmacked, despite pleas by motorists and numerous pledges by local leaders.

The all-weather road, popularly known as Loosi, has opened up the agriculturally-rich area.

The missionary promoted the Gospel Furthering Fellowship, which birthed the Good News Church of Africa (GNCA), and much later, the Gospel Furthering Bible Church (GFBC) in the late 1950s when he returned from the US.

Elders from Mbanya village were among those who lined up to welcome Rhoads back. “The Rev Rhoads sought a parcel of land to set up a Bible school and a church when he returned from a long stay overseas,” says businessman Benson Nzioka, whose grandfather provided the land on which the 58-year-old GFBC stands.

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EDUCATION

In a corner of the church compound are the graves of Rhoads, his wife, son, and daughter-in-law.

It’s clear that Rhoads’ fallout with AIM was a big blow to the AIC, which suffered a backlash, especially in Central Kenya, because of its policies against polygamy and female genital cutting.

Since he was already popular in Ukambani, the missionary effortlessly drew a huge following from the region to his GFBC.

There are more than 220 GFBC churches spread mainly across Kitui, Machakos, Makueni and Tharaka-Nithi counties today, according to the head of the church, Bishop Joseph Syuma.

“Mbanya GFBC is highly regarded because it’s the pioneer church from which all the others emerged. The church’s growth is credited to the Rev Rhoads, who supported expansion by building churches and training pastors. He provided the first batch of pastors with bicycles to facilitate their movement across the vast regions they served,” Bishop Syuma says.

Rev Rhoads is also credited with promoting education in the region. All the wealthy families in Mbooni today trace their success to his principles.

SUCCESS STORIES

The children and grandchildren of those who received him are highly-educated and hold plum jobs in government and the corporate world.

A case in point is Aron Kasyoki, whose daughter, Charity Ngilu, has served in various senior posts in the government and is now Kitui governor. Rev Kasyoki has since died.

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One of the surviving people, who benefited directly from Rhoads’ teachings, is Mzee Martin Ngyema, 89.

The retired soldier served as the official chauffeur of Kenya’s colonial boss, and then, after independence in 1964, became the official chauffeur of Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s first president.

“We grew up being admonished by our parents to emulate the students of Rev George William Rhoads by studying hard and being disciplined, lest we end up poor and miserable in adulthood,” Mr Kyalo Mumo, Tulimani Ward representative and Makueni County Assembly Majority Leader, reminisced.

Mr Jonah Kyathe, the chief officer in the Trade and Tourism department, says the county government is planning to build a mausoleum to preserve the resting place of the pioneer of Christianity and development in the region and his family.

 


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Africa

Kenya has the most expensive schools in Africa costing over Sh3M a year per student

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The International Schools Database 2020, has ranked Kenya’s cluster of schools as the most expensive in Africa.

According to the report, the most expensive international schools in Kenya charge an average of Ksh 3,245,932 in school fees per year.

Kenya has a well-established private, international schools sector serving both expatriates and local elites, with schools clustered around Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru and Kisumu.

The vast majority teach in English and offer a British curriculum but International Baccalaureate (IB) programmes are increasingly popular.

International Schools Report 2020.
International Schools Report 2020.
FILE

There are six IB World Schools in Kenya, all of which are authorized to offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma.

Three IB programs are offered by Aga Khan Academy schools in Nairobi and Mombasa, while Braeburn Garden Estate School, which is part of the home-grown Braeburn education group, offers the IB Diploma alongside A-levels.

The Braeburn group runs seven schools in Kenya of which four are based in and around Nairobi, with the others are in Mombasa, Kisumu and Nanyuki. The schools follow the English national curriculum leading to A-levels and IGCSEs and two of them offer weekly boarding.

Other international schools in Kenya include: Kenton College Preparatory School, GEMS Cambridge International School, German School Nairobi, Greensted International Schools, St Andrew’s Senior School among others.

In late 2017, St Andrews Turi become the talk of social media after its fees structure and menu were leaked to the public.

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Year 7 and 8 full board students were recorded as paying Ksh 730,000 in school fees per term.

In the latest International School Fees report 2020, South Africa had the lowest maximum prices for international education in Africa (Ksh 627,798).

Kampala in Uganda was highlighted as the most affordable city in Africa for international schooling with the lowest minimum international school fees of Ksh 67,303 per year.

Below are the most costly schools in Kenya:

  • In Kenya, Education is seen as the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today. However, in Kenya, some of the ‘passports’ come at a cost that is enough to buy you a parcel of land and set up a nice bungalow upcountry.


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Africa

Kenya Airways to resume NY direct flights on 29th November 2020

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Kenya Airways will resume direct flights to New York on 29th November 2020 after a seven-month hiatus occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially, the airline was slated to commence the New York direct flights on 31st October 2020 but has since extended the resumption date due to increased cancellation of flight booking to the city.

According to CEO Allan Kilavuka, early bookings for the October 31 flight had registered a 40 percent cabin factor load. The airline plans to operate two weekly flights on Sundays and Wednesdays and gradually increase the frequency to three flights subject to demand.

In this case, Kenya Airways says that the three flights will run on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. The direct flights to New York launched in 2018 and by October 2019 had completed 594 trips to and from New York and flying 105,084 passengers.

Kenya Airways has been keen to resume its former routes following opening of international flights in major cities across the globe. For instance, the airline resumed the Nairobi to Mumbai flights plying the route thrice a week.

The onset of the pandemic saw the airline’s revenues fall due to travel restrictions and lockdowns that reduced network activities connecting the home market to key cities. In the first six months of 2020, total income fell by 48 percent to Ksh30.2 billion compared to Ksh58.6 billion recorded in the six months to June in 2019.

READ ALSO:   VIDEO: 9-year-old Kenyan 'Pastor' says he would love to preach in USA

The effect of the pandemic was evident in the 55.5 percent reduction in passenger numbers to 1.1 million in the six months compared to 2.4 million in a similar period last year. The drop in revenue saw loss for the period rise from Ksh8.5 billion in H1:2019 to Ksh14.3 billion in the H1:2020.


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Ginimbi had planned his burial, including dress code, VIP tent and guest list

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Flashy Zimbabwean businessman Genius Kadungure, popularly known by the sobriquet Ginimbi, had fully planned how his burial will be conducted several months before he died on Sunday, November 8, 2020, his sister says.

Ginimbi, 36, died after the vehicle he was driving, a Rolls Royce Wraith, collided head-on with a Honda Fit in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

Following the crash, Ginimbi’s car hurtled off the road and hit a tree, sparking a huge fire that engulfed the entire vehicle, instantly calcining the three trapped occupants to death.

Ginimbi had been rescued from the driver’s seat by well-wishers, but succumbed to his injuries a few meters from the fire scene.

The other three, who died in the accident, include fitness enthusiast Mimi Moana, her female friend Elisha and Ginimbi’s friend Limumba Karim.

Mimi Moana was celebrating her birthday party on Saturday night, hours before she was involved in a fatal crash alongside Ginimbi and two others. [PHOTO | COURTESY]

The four had Saturday night celebrated Moana’s birthday at Dreams Nightclub in the capital Harare, and were on their way to Ginimbi’s home when the accident happened.

Elisha also died in the Sunday morning crash. [PHOTO | COURTESY]

The crash occurred at Borrowdale, a residential suburb in the north of Harare. The neighbourhood forms the most affluent and prestigious residential area in the whole of Zimbabwe, online search shows.

Following news of Ginimbi’s death, his eldest sister, Juliet Kadungure, has now come out to reveal that her flamboyant brother had fully planned his burial months in advance.

“Genius was a fun-loving character,” Juliet told The Herald, which is the largest daily newspaper in Zimbabwe.

“He always reminded us about how he wanted his funeral to be conducted. In fact, he had a plan and always said ‘ndiri big’, so make sure on my funeral, you do not hurriedly bury me,” said Juliet.

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According to Ginimbi’s wish, all the people who will attend his burial penciled in for Saturday, November 14, 2020 must be dressed in white attire. The dress code is synonymous with Ginimbi’s trademark dressing for the lavish parties he used to host.

Juliet said her brother used to tell them that he wanted a big burial ceremony.

“Take time, planning for it. Check my requirements well and one of the things is that I want everyone who will be at my funeral to be dressed in all white, no matter who. Please, make sure you emphasise that, remember, I am an all-white guy. The all-white should be on the day of burial.”

Juliet said according to the plan left by Ginimbi, they will have to wait for his foreign-based friends to arrive for the ceremony, failure to which, the event should be postponed.

“He would say: ‘make sure you get in touch with my other friends abroad and wait for them to come,” said Juliet.

“That is why we are saying for now the funeral will begin on Thursday, [November 12] and for now people are gathered at our father’s residence which is 400 metres away from Ginimbi’s mansion.

“We have set up a tent because there are lots of people coming from all walks of life and we could not accommodate them at the mansion.”

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Juliet said there will be two tents pitched for the wake.

“There will be a tent for friends and fans, then a VIP tent,” she said.

“Ginimbi will be buried on Saturday, [November 14] in his yard as he wished to. It is very difficult for us as a family and we kindly request the public to respect us and avoid spreading malicious rumours.

“For now, we have put a family spokesperson who is Clement Kadungure. Anything you hear which is not from him, is not true.”

Juliet said the family was not stopping people from mourning Ginimbi at his mansion, as being reported on social media, but the reason why the funeral was on the other side was to accommodate everyone.

“You may think the yard is big, but it is not big to accommodate everyone as you know many people are coming,” she said, adding: “Like I said, we decided to pitch tents at the open space near my father’s house. It is also for the security of the house.”

Juliet said Ginimbi always wished for his house to be turned into a museum or a hotel upon his demise.

“We are going to invite some local artistes so they will perform on Friday, [November 13], when his body lies in state at his mansion,” she said.

“Remember, Genius owned G-Entertainment where he promoted some local artistes, so we will do his wishes and they will also be dressed in white.”

READ ALSO:   Kenyan Bishop who allegedly eloped with congregant's wife found dead

Chief executive officer of Ginimbi’s G4K security company, Dr Peter Gwaza, said some people were coming with the intention of stealing Ginimbi’s property.

“We have already caught two people who had stolen plastic chairs,” he said. “Again, the house has a lot of property that needs to be protected. I respect the decision by the family to have the funeral outside the mansion.”

Who is Ginimbi?

Ginimbi had interests in oil and gas business. [PHOTO | COURTESY]

Genius Kadungure had business interests in gas and petroleum. It is reported, in a section of Zimbabwean media, that he owned several filling stations in the capital Harare, and other parts of Zimbabwe.

However, it was alleged that he engaged in fraudulent activities to defraud wealthy Zimbabweans and South African businesspeople.

Ginimbi was popular on social media platforms, particularly Instagram, where he had over 650,000 followers and 644 posts at the time of his death. On the social networking pages, he flaunted the “good life” he lived, including posting pictures of the high-end vehicles he bought nearly on a yearly basis.

Some of the car brands Ginimbi owned include Lamborghini, Rolls Royce, Range Rover, Ferrari, Bentley, among others.

Ginimbi hosted multi-million-shilling birthday parties annually since 2009. In March 2018, he paid Nigerian artiste Davido to perform in Harare.

In Kenya, Ginimbi was a friend of socialite Huddah Monroe.

In Uganda, Ginimbi enjoyed a close relationship with socialite Zari Hassan’s late ex-husband Ivan Ssemwanga.


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