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Mr. Benson Manoo: Meet Ribe High School Chief Principal Who Is Also An Ordained Pastor


 © Victor Ochieng’ 

In the recent past, I visited Ribe High School to paint what others have built. This is the national boys’ school of Kilifi County. This school on the epic peak of a small hill also acts as a reference point at the sultry shores of the Indian Ocean.

The soft-spoken Chief Principal, Mr. Benson Manoo, invited me to that fountain of knowledge for a tripartite assignment. It was third term of 2022: the year of Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

It was last lap, homestretch for Form Fours. So, I charged the candidate class to finish strong. I built the capacity of captains. Then, met teachers of English and Literature, where we conferred about teaching English as a core-career subject. 

Right at the onset. I must admit. It was my first time to meet and greet the mild-mannered-man, Mr. Manoo, the pleasant Principal who is also an ordained pastor. I knew him through his wise and winsome wife, who is the pleasant Principal at Kyondoni Girls in Kitui County.

In a larger sense, there is a common denominator in these two school arrowheads. When you meet and interact with them, you will realise that they prioritise God in all matters. Then, they are keen to keep the rich Christian culture and tradition in schools they steer. They recognise and work well with the church, sponsors of the school. 

Mr. Benson Manoo: Meet Ribe High School Chief Principal Who Is Also An Ordained Pastor

Indeed, this pious approach to leadership is what we wish to see in our institutions. Principals who revere God are cognizant of the fact that leaders gain gems of wisdom in three wonderful ways.

Firstly, the fear of the Lord is the genesis of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). Secondly, accumulation of common sense entices costly sense, which is wisdom. Thirdly, right application of knowledge is tantamount to wisdom. Solomon, whom according to 1 Kings 4:32 penned 3,000 aphorisms, says in Proverbs 4:7, “Wisdom is the principal thing. In all our dealings, we should seek understanding.”

Now, I can confidently say in this essay, while I was rolling out the Penman Programmes along the sultry strip of the coast, I took note of the integral role churches play in our schools. For instance, Ribe High School is a simple example of the great impact of the church, which according to the pen of Apostle Paul of Tarsus, the church is the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Timothy 3:15).  

In my maiden visit, I took note of the rich Christian tradition, which the Chief Principal did not dither to share: to act as fodder to my sane pen. In actual sense, Ribe High School sits in the vast mission area close to the Kaya shrines — the sacred grove, where the polytheistic Mijikenda Community used to visit: to pay homage to their pantheon of gods.

Then, the pacific place that the school sits is a sacrosanct spot where the Methodist Church spawned, then spread. Like the early church, it waxed strong in faith and grew daily in numbers. Acts 16:5. 

Again, Ribe is close to Rabai — the first place in Kenya, where the Church Missionary Society (CMS) from Britain established their mission station. Johann Ludwig Kraft, one of the first protestant missionaries in Kenya, played a royal role in the provenance and proliferation of the Methodist Church in Kenya. 

Consequently, those who are at home with the rich Kenyan history and heritage also know: Some schools built by missionaries in the distant past, boast of august infrastructure and culture. Churches that sponsor our schools in these times and climes have the mandate to preserve the heroic culture. 

In actual sense, in 1906, the Church Missionary Society (CMS) birthed Maseno School. Alliance High School started in 1926. St. Mary’s School Yala started in 1927. The brilliant thought spawned from the Mill Hill Fathers. Alliance Girls started in 1948 as African Girls High School.

Key protestant churches played a pivotal role in the conception, birth and growth of the Alliances. The four churches were, the Church of Scotland Mission, which later morphed to Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA).

There was Church of the Province of Kenya (CPK) presently known as Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK). Then, African Inland Church (AIC) and Methodist Church of Kenya (MCK). 

Moreover, institutions such as Ribe High School, are trying to keep the culture established by founders. No wonder, such churches deploy chaplains to take care of spiritual programmes in schools they sponsor.

For instance, when we visit Ribe to roll out talks and training programmes, the ubiquity of the chaplain, reminds us to anchor our teachings on the pristine principles and practices of the Christian faith. Just call it working well with the church and chaplaincy. 

Therefore, Principals of schools should maintain cordial relationship with the sponsors. It is the best way to beckon blessings. For Chaplains in schools provide psycho-social and spiritual support to students and staff.

They provide professional and pastoral counselling. Schools with devoted sponsors meet the prime purpose of schools: Value-addition, character-development and holistic-formation. 

Finally, Education Act 2013 spells out the role of churches (sponsors) on deft management of schools. That great document posits that sponsors should participate in the preparation of religious education syllabus.

Meaning, it is incumbent upon them to provide good guidance on school staffing, implementation of education policies, search for new practical approaches to education, and be at the centre stage of resource-mobilisation in our schools. 

The writer rolls out academic, career, leadership; talks and training services in schools. vochieng.90@gmail.com. 0704420232

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