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Colonial Names of Kenyan Renowned Schools Before Independence

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Colonial Names of Kenyan Renowned Schools Before Independence

Every year, Kenyan students celebrate their exceptional performances in national examinations, upholding a long-standing tradition that recognizes and applauds academic excellence. The prestige associated with these schools, which consistently produce top performers, has led to high demand for enrollment.

While these institutions receive acclaim for their academic achievements, their rich colonial-era histories often languish in obscurity.

This article delves into the historical origins of some of Kenya’s renowned schools, shedding light on their colonial-era names before they assumed the familiar titles known today. These names carry a piece of history, reflecting a bygone era when education was a tool of colonial influence and control.

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Nairobi School: From Kabete Boys to Prince of Wales to Nairobi School

Nairobi School, formerly known as Kabete Boys Secondary School, has undergone a series of name changes. The school’s first transformation took place when its white settler principal deemed “Kabete Boys” too cumbersome. As a result, it was rebranded as “Prince of Wales School.” Under this new name, the school adopted a badge adorned with Prince of Wales feathers, symbolizing its connection to the British throne’s male heir apparent.

Colonial Names of Kenyan Renowned Schools Before Independence
Colonial Names of Kenyan Renowned Schools Before Independence

The title “Prince of Wales” itself has historical roots dating back to the Welsh rulers of Gwynedd in the late 12th century.

However, after Kenya gained independence, the school rebranded itself and adopted the name “Nairobi School,” symbolizing its strong affiliation with the capital city. This final name change marked a new chapter, combining national pride with the school’s legacy of academic excellence and tradition.

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Lenana School: A Tribute to the Duke of York

Established in 1949, Lenana School derived its name from colonial governor Philip Euen Mitchell, who subsequently assumed the title of Duke of York. The school’s namesake, the Duke of York, was also the name of a British battleship during World War II.

The title “The Duke of York” has been a hereditary British noble title granted to the second son of British monarchs since the 15th century. Currently, Prince Andrew, the brother of King Charles III, holds this title.

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Jamhuri High School: From the Duke of Gloucester to Independence

Jamhuri High School’s transformation has a unique historical context. In 1952, Prince Henry, the Duke of Gloucester, took a keen interest in the school’s development, actively supporting it.

His involvement led to the school being named after him. However, following Kenya’s independence in 1964, the school was renamed “Jamhuri,” which translates to “Republic” in Swahili. This symbolic change marked Kenya’s newfound independence and sovereignty as a republic.

Kenya High School: From Nairobi European School to Independence

The Kenya High School, established in 1910, began its journey as the “Nairobi European School,” initially a co-educational institution located in buildings designed as police barracks. In 1931, the school underwent segregation, resulting in the separation of boys and girls.

It was then known as “The European Girls Secondary School” in 1935, with Miss Kerby appointed as the first headmistress. Notably, the school’s facilities at the time included temporary wooden huts shared with Nairobi Primary School.

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In 1939, the school underwent another transformation and became known as “The Kenya High School.” Until 1961, the school exclusively admitted white students. However, in 1961, Ann Mithamo became the first African student to gain admission to the school, marking a significant milestone in its history.

Alliance Girls School: Pioneering African Girls’ Education

Established in 1948 by Scottish missionaries on 71-acre land, the African Girls High School was the pioneering secondary institution for African girls. Initially a co-ed school, it admitted its first female students in February 1948. Before that, four girls had been studying alongside boys at Alliance High School since 1946, in anticipation of the official inauguration of the girls’ school.

After gaining independence, the school underwent a name change, and it became known as “Alliance High School,” signifying its role as a sibling institution to the well-known Alliance High School. This renaming celebrated its historical significance as a trailblazer for African girls’ education.

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Colonial Names of Kenyan Renowned Schools Before Independence

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