UoN at 50 Articles

Up to the mid-1980, universities were acting as training institutions, to train for replacement of the expertise that had left after the Country attained independence and a few more for onward progression in the development of the Country. The jobs were available in all areas, in the public and private sector. As young lecturers we enjoyed teaching the existing traditional curriculums. The graduates rarely thought of self-employment as option. But in 1986, I recall that one graduate of the Department in the class of 1980 started a micro-enterprice in the processing of jams. He was then still in employment by the Ministry of Industry.

After 1986, the Government declared that there were not enough jobs for all the graduates from the Universities. The universities were turned into education institutions. There was panic everywhere, the graduates, the parents and the institutions. Teaching of traditional curriculums no longer seemed to be enjoyable. Incidentally even with this constraint, very few graduates dared venture like Muraguri into self-employment. There has up to today been a lot of inertia for the mindsets of the graduate and the parents ton change. Government must create jobs.

The universities, there are many today, have to do a paradigm shift in the way they teach. To start teaching for innovation identification and development – to the level of execution by self or others who are willing to buy it. Transform the mind-sets of the graduates to develop into thinkers, innovators and employers. The teachers also have to shift the paradigm of the way they teach. Many of them do not even know what innovation means. This is the only way we can join the rest of the World on this journey of the university evolution.


Then it used to be enjoyable to teach students whose hope for a future was glimmering in the eyes. These days with gaping eyes of uncertain future after graduation with very little clue about other safety channels besides salaried employment.

Dr. Raphael Kweyu (Pioneering student at Wangari Maathai Institute; 2012-2015)

One of the strong points in my venture as a student at Wangari Maathai Institute was the interdisciplinary nature of the program I studied. I had an opportunity of taking courses from different fields such as Law, Ecological economics, Conflict Resolution (especially Mediation), Sociology and Geography.

At the Wangari Maathai Institute, our lecturers (Thuita Thenya, Karatu Kiemo, Raphael Wahome, the late Fred Mugivane, David Mungai, Stephen Kiama, Karanja Njoroge & Robert Kibugi) were always available for consultation and guidance. As pioneering students, our coursework though interesting, was not without challenges. For example, before the Institute developed its own physical infrastructure, we did not have learning space we could call ‘our own’. I remember taking a lecture from one of the rooms at the CAVS library then rushing to beat traffic and attend another class in Chiromo campus in one of the science laboratories.  The fieldwork in Mau forests, though sometimes challenging, was always offering us new experiences by the day. We worked as a team and occasionally our supervisors would come by to check on our progress.

Through an exchange program at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, I had an opportunity to interact with a new culture, the Danish culture, with its wonderful people. Our host professors (Vibeke Vindelev, Emborg Jens, Lund Jens, Linda Nielsen & Iben Nathan) were so kind and hospitable. They invited us in their homes in different parts of Copenhagen to meet and spend time with their families. At the Danish Fellowship Centre (DFC), I met students from different parts of the globe. We always had activities organized by the DFC junior staff that made our stay in Denmark enjoyable, these included visits to Castles and other places, dancing and cooking competitions among others.

Wangari Maathai Institute has taught me the value of working with communities in finding solutions. The Institute’s brainchild, the late Professor Wangari Maathai insisted on experiential learning. During our study, the Institute organized trips locally and internationally for us to learn about examples of sustainable grass-root practices. These included a visit to Bishop Masika’s farm in Machakos County and an excursion to Zapatera Island in Nicaragua. These were the best study experiences in my stay at WMI.