There was pomp and colour as the University of Nairobi celebrated its 50 years of existence since its inception in 1970.
On December 10, 1970, Kenya’s first president, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta led the nation in celebrating the birth of the nation’s first national university at the Great Court and was installed as Chancellor having been awarded the first honorary degree of Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa). On December 10, 2020, from the same grounds, the Chancellor, Dr. Vijoo Rattansi led the University community and stakeholders in celebrating 50 years of academic excellence.
The celebrations were a true reflection of the pride the University’s staff and students, past and present, have and carry everyday of their lives. Five decades of alumni shared memories of their times at the University. From the cohort that enjoyed three course meals at the students’ cafeteria, had laundry services to the decade that fought the KANU regime, each alumnus shared their experiences with some leaving the guests in stitches.
The Chancellor said that as a training institution, we have contributed immensely to the country’s human capital and in doing so, contributed novel ideas and technologies for the betterment of our nation. That this has been made possible through the blood, toil, sweat and tears of great men and women; the Solomonic wisdom of our valiant leaders; the outstanding contribution, concerted focus and patriotism of our members of staff and countless man hours and stellar output of generations upon generations of fine students.
The Chair of Council, Prof. Julia Ojiambo, reflected on her University of Nairobi story, having graduated from this institution with a Diploma in Education during its nascent years.
She said that the celebrations marking 50 years brought back fond memories that we created with fellow students and later with colleagues in academia. That the five decades of reforms at this institution have come with many achievements in teaching, research, development and consultancy and are proud of where we are. That our challenge today was to prepare the ground for a greater future for those who will come behind us.
The Vice-chancellor, Prof. Stephen Kiama, shared his joy as he witnessed 50 years of UoN. Prof. Kiama highlighted the University of Nairobi’s significant contribution to the Africanization of the workforce in the immediate post-independence period. He noted that UoN has laid a strong foundation for building the current large, competent and skilled manpower in all fields of specialization that Kenya is known for today.
Some of the guests who spoke at the ceremony include Mrs. Mildred Owuor who was representing the University of Nairobi Alumni Association, Dr. Frank Njenga who represented the 1970 to 1980 cohort, Hon. Ekwee Ethuro who spoke on behalf of the 1980 to 1990, Commissioner Dr. Mercy Deche who represented the 1990-2000 cohort, Doris Wangui Githua who represented the 2000 to 2010 cohort and Qs. Mary Kivata who spoke on behalf of 2010 to 2020 alumnus.