Lwanga old boys reward generous, humble founder
3 weeks ago, 10:23
Mr Tony Woods, a lay missionary of Irish roots who came to Kitui in 1968 aged only 24, recounts an amusing experience during his time as the principal of St Charles Lwanga High School in Kitui County.
“We had dairy cattle in the school but did not have good fencing, and so occasionally the cows would stray into our neighbours’ farms, but the most memorable was when the school was sued for crops damage,” he said.
One of the neighbours, Mr Elijah Muveva Kilombe, went to court alleging that the cattle had eaten his tomatoes and he wanted to be compensated for the loss, but the case was dismissed.
“We didn’t have money to hire a lawyer, but we won the case because when my turn came to defend the school, I told the court that I have often seen cattle eat shrubs but I have never seen them eat tomatoes, so the farmer’s vegetables must have been eaten by other animals and not my school cows,” he said amid laughter.
Mr Woods is best known for the close to three decades he spent at St Charles Lwanga, which he built literally from scratch to an academic powerhouse in the country.
He dedicated his entire life to not just teaching but moulding generations of students, some of whom ended up as prominent personalities in government, the military, the Judiciary, the private sector and also in the diaspora.
Two current MPs from the county – Makali Mulu (Kitui Central) and Gideon Mulyungi (Mwingi Central) – are old boys of the school, which has produced many other notable figures in the country including well-known lawyers and captains of various industries.
In an interview with Lifestyle on the 50th year of his stay in Kenya, Mr Woods said it has been a wonderful and very fulfilling journey.
“Every time I come to Kitui, particularly to Lwanga, I feel it’s like I am getting a fresh injection of hope, especially when I meet my former students from all over the country, I feel very contented,” he said.
He narrated how he was pleased to watch his former students who are now top lawyers in the country representing the Jubilee and Nasa coalitions in last year’s presidential petition at the Supreme Court.
Old boys, including Eric Mutua, who rose to become the chairperson of the Law Society of Kenya, and Nairobi lawyers Karori Kamau and Mwikya Musyoki were involved in the presidential petition and other high-profile cases.
“These are the things that delight me. What these old boys have done to me is more than a gesture to me. I’m very grateful to them for the wonderful gift of a retirement home,” he told the audience in a ceremony to hand over a new house to him.
He told the story of an outstanding journey of great sacrifices that could only have been possible with sheer determination and passion for service to humanity.
His monthly salary for all those years went into helping ...
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