Story of Security Guard who Became College Principal

  • Juma Nyongesa a former security guard is now the Principal at the Kenya Institute of Development Studies
    Juma Nyongesa (pictured), a former security guard, is now the Principal at the Kenya Institute of Development Studies.
    Daily Nation
  • In the classic rags to riches tales, it takes a certain gusto to go against the grain and follow what many may consider a pipe dream. 

    In the case of Juma Nyongesa, his pursuit of happiness was met with twists and turns, but perseverance and vigour led him to the path of success.

    From doing menial jobs such as a tea collector, and security guard to ultimately heading the Kenya Institute of Development Studies (KIDS), his journey entails a remarkable tale of never losing hope. 

    A signboard showing various departments at the Kenya Institute of Development Studies.
    A signboard showing various departments at the Kenya Institute of Development Studies.

    Nyongesa, in past media interviews, narrated that he grew up in a village in Matunda, Kakamega county. His parents, who worked as casual labourers struggled to fend for the family as well as provide education.

    The firstborn in a family of eleven, he often joined his parents during school holidays in order to help the family gain extra income. After finishing his KCPE in 1998, he got great results and received an admission letter to join Musingu High school. 

    The news, albeit exciting, got mixed reactions from the family as the challenge to raise the school fees came into the fold. 

    "I had passed so well, but the challenge was that my family could not afford to send me to that school, because of the money needed for my school fees,” he recounted.

    At the time his father beseeched him to join Eshikulu Day Secondary School, which he could afford. Nyongesa agreed to the request which led to his old man selling a piece of his ancestral land to raise the requisite fees. 

    Four years later, Nyongesa sat the KCSE exams and scored a B mean grade, but missed an opportunity to get direct admission to the university.

    Dejected by the turn of events, Nyongesa tried to enrol into the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) as well as Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to no avail. In 2004, a chance, however, opened for him to join the Kenya Army but 38 days later, he was instructed to leave the camp over an error during the recruitment process. 

    "We were only told that there was an error in the process of recruitment. Later, I learnt that a powerful politician had his people and we were ejected to create space. This was very devastating,” he stated. 

    Resorting not to give up, Nyongesa began working at a tea plantation in Limuru. He later shifted jobs and moved back to Nairobi working as a security guard in Westlands, earning Ksh36,000 monthly. 

    The rather learned watchman worked hard and got promoted to a senior level. He was then posted as a guard at Daystar University.  

    This opportune moment saw Nyongesa cross paths with influential personalities who ended up giving him another chance in education. 

    Nyongesa managed to save money in order to raise the needed fees. Further, he was able to help his colleagues by helping them when they need to get back on their feet. This caught the attention of Canadian officials who were frequent visitors of the school. They requested to see him. 

    "They were interested in what my future dreams were. I told them of my desire to go back to school and in our second meeting, they said they were willing to support my education, plus that of my fellow guard," he stated. 

    Nyongesa joined Daystar in 2007 to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Community Development and a minor in Business Management. After graduation, he tried a few stints in accounting before eventually becoming a lecturer post at KIDS.

    Within a year, he got to be promoted to become the college's principal. 

    Kenyan security guards walking dogs
    Kenyan security guards walking dogs.