Mount Kenya University (MKU) is specially recognising Kenya’s former President, Mwai Kibaki, for his contribution to the country’s education sector. Today, the university formally opens the Mwai Kibaki Convention Centre at its main campus in Thika. The founder and chairman of MKU, Prof Simon Gicharu, says the former president’s policies “radically transformed the education sector over the years.” President Kibaki expanded learning opportunities for children when he introduced free and compulsory primary education as soon as he assumed leadership in 2003.

The Minister for Interior and Coordination of the National Government, Dr Fred Matiang’i, says the 2,000-seater Mwai Kibaki Convention Centre (MKCC) at Mount Kenya University (MKU) represents a powerful institutional legacy. Dr Matiang’i is the chief guest at the official commissioning of the facility today.

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He explains that he hopes the convention centre will serve as an arena for brewing solutions that address the challenges facing Africa. In saying so, he cites former President Mwai Kibaki’s call to Africans to apply both home-grown and borrowed solutions to social, cultural and economic challenges the continent faces.

The former president also supported private universities, contributing to the expansion of the country’s higher education sector. Prof Gicharu adds that the university is further honouring the head of state who granted its Charter in 2011. “He has made immeasurable contributions to what our country has turned out to be today,” says the MKU chairman, pointing out that the convention centre is one of the possible ways of celebrating the former president.

The CS says he is happy to note that the convention centre has already hosted conferences focusing on blending local ideas with borrowed ones. In the words of Mwai Kibaki in 2012, “this will go a long way towards creating jobs for our youth and wealth for the communities.”

Prof Gicharu explains that the nation’s fortunes from the tenure of Kenya’s third president cannot possibly be gainsaid, and urges the public not to shy away from celebrating their heroes. “We owe it to ourselves and have a duty to capture our milestones for posterity by way of chronicling accounts and exploits of our heroes,” says the MKU founder. “This is how to bolster our identity as Africans in general and Kenyans in particular,” he adds.

Prof Gicharu urges the nation to pick lessons from Kibaki’s leadership as nuggets, or at least abiding inspiration, in national development planning cycles. He clarifies that what he is urging is not about singing idle praises on the accomplishments of President Kibaki’s moment at the helm. “Rather, it is worthwhile to take note of the elements that make his tenure of office memorable,” says the MKU chairman. He then declares: “The Board of Directors as well as the entire Mount Kenya University fraternity are honoured to have Mount Kenya University’s ultra-modern convention facility named Mwai Kibaki Convention Centre.”