Kisumu School’s new wall loved and hated in equal measure

Kisumu Boys High School

Kisumu Boys High School gate on March 14, 2023.

Photo credit: Rushdie Oudia | Nation Media Group

For the public, the newly built Kisumu School perimeter wall offers a breath of fresh air and a security boost for students.

For the school fraternity, it possibly affirms the fact that the much hyped relocation of the institution to the outskirts of the Kisumu city might not be happening after all, or at least, not any time soon.

But for traders who used to hang their items on the old wall, it has robbed them of prime advertising space.

For Shem Suchia, however, the new wall brings hope that no one will suffer the pain he suffered when he lost a loved one to the old wall two years ago.

In a message he wrote on Facebook on March 14, 2023, Suchia said it was sad that the wall had to be built after his sister lost her life there on August 24, 2021.

Kisumu School

Newly built Kisumu School perimeter wall.

Photo credit: Rushdie Oudia | Nation Media Group

Truphena Chitwa Ondiso was killed when part of the perimeter wall collapsed on top of her and her seven-year-old daughter as they went to school.

While the 32-year-old died on the spot, her daughter was injured and was taken to the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH).

“It is a sad reminder of the tragedy, but it is nevertheless welcomed, so that what befell my sister would never befall anyone else. Truphena Ondiso rest in peace. You never died in vain. I miss you so,” said Suchia.

Ondiso was on her way to school in the company of her three children, the other two children escaped without any injuries.

Traders had complained that the wall had been weakened following demolitions of some structures that had been erected against the wall by traders a week earlier, while others claimed it collapsed because it was old and unstable.

But after the incident which occurred more than two years ago, the county government indicated that the move to bring down the remaining part of the wall was a move to implement the city expansion plan and not in any way connected to the death and injuries it had caused.

Kisumu School

a mason works on the newly built Kisumu School perimeter wall.

Photo credit: Rushdie Oudia | Nation Media Group

When the Nation visited the school, some workers were still doing final touches installing lamps on the wall facing the Kisumu Main Bus Terminus.

“We are not done yet, the wall will be constructed round the school all the way to Aga Khan and Jua kali areas. We are also installing lamps and also in the process of completing the tip of the wall with a razor wire for security purposes,” said a worker.

When it was unveiled, some four days ago, the wall wowed the locals owing to its new design and the beautiful badge bearing the new name of the institution — Kisumu School — and not the former Kisumu Boys High School.

People have been taking photos of the new structure while marvelling at its beauty.

At the foot of the wall which was funded jointly by parents and the Kisumu School alumni there is a neat hedge protected by barbed wire.

Kisumu School

The newly built Kisumu School perimeter wall

Photo credit: Rushdie Oudia | Nation Media Group

For years, there has been talk of possible plans to move the school and other facilities outside the Kisumu city centre to allow its expansion.

This had been received with mixed reactions, with many people of the view that the school is a landmark and historical site that should be left as it is, while others feeling it is the best move so that the learners are not distracted, owing to its proximity to the bus park.

The Kisumu Boys and Kisumu Girls School’s alumni had threatened to go to court to stop the move.

Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o has, however, defended the plan to move the schools, saying it has been raised in many professional forums.

He stated that the debate on whether or not to move the schools is an important conversation that must not be trivialised or wished away.

“It is wrong to misinterpret my comments to insinuate that learning institutions are less important in society. As a scholar and public administrator, I know the value of education. Schools need a calm and friendly environment far from the noise in the cities,” said the governor.

He indicated that the ongoing transformation should be supported because it is aimed at revamping the city’s infrastructure, the economy, waste management system and provision of adequate housing for residents.

He had indicated that he supports the idea of schools sharing facilities to save on land use.

“Each school has a field, a swimming pool and other amenities that have occupied land. Why don’t we take them to an area where schools share these amenities? We don’t need to have a field for each school in a town. We need a cost-effective use of land. This should be a subject for debate,” said Prof Nyong’o.

The county boss indicated that both the United Nations and African Union recognise that African towns and cities will host more people than the continent’s rural areas in the next two decades, bringing into sharp focus the level of preparedness of the urban centres to provide for the large populations.

These populations, according to Prof Nyong’o, will need food, shelter, security, healthy environments to live in, an efficient transportation system, reliable, cost-effective and clean energy, social amenities and employment opportunities.