Perhaps, the most interesting part of Mwai Kibaki’s early life is his days at Mathari School (now Nyeri High School) – which he joined after Karima Mission school – and his four year stint at Mang’u High School.
At Mathari, Kibaki did not just concentrate on academic studies; he learnt carpentry and masonry as students would repair furniture and provide material for maintaining the school’s buildings. Kibaki also grew his own food in the school and earned extra money during the school holidays by working as a conductor on buses operated by the defunct Othaya African Bus Union.
After Mathari, Kibaki joined Mang’u High school where once again, he proved to be a remarkable student with his sterling final performance earning him a scholarship at Uganda’s Makerere University to study economics, history, and political science. In his ‘O’ level examinations, Kibaki passed with a maximum of six points by passing six subjects with Grade 1 Distinction.
Also worth noting is the fact that, during his last days at Mang’u, Kibaki wanted to join the military. Having been inspired by the veterans of the First and Second World Wars from his rural village, young Kibaki is on record as having inquired whether he could join the army. Unfortunately, his dream of becoming a soldier proved to be invalid at the time since a ruling by the Chief Colonial Secretary, Walter Coutts, barred the recruitment of the Kikuyu, Embu and Meru communities into the army.
With his military aspirations put paid, Kibaki proceeded to Makerere University.