Father Hilary: You Gotta Know this Legend!


“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.”
Shannon L. Alder

“Fr Hillary Wambugu… May your soul RIP… Having visited him on Sunday, I can assure you that he never ever faltered in his faith in the Most High, the Almighty, even as he fought off pain….. He has gone to the other world a strong believer and may we all emulate his character.. Let us remember him for his good especially in moulding our characters… Rest in peace Father, alias Gathee alias Kahia…. God bless.” (adapted from Mugo Waweru’s Face book status).

I remember very little of this Great man, Father Hillary, but still the little I ever knew of him t’sall good and exemplary and worth writing about.

Anyone who met him will tell you that he was a man who commanded respect. He had an air of authority that stuck to him like his shadow. In spite of his old age his back was straighter than an arrow, his walk so graceful, purposeful and calculated; his immaculately tailored suit a trademark of a good taste in dressing.

The first time I saw him I freaked out, I swear; Waithera my mother had already told me about him, a tough, no nonsense disciplinarian with a profound attachment to detail. He was known to tame and mould the wildest boys who ventured into Nyeri High into something of note, boys who became dependable people in Society.

I laid my eyes on him on my very first day in Nyeri High, right outside the staffroom. Right there I almost exclaimed “am EFFED for real!” It was at a little bit past 1600 hours and the students were leaving their classrooms. A noteable buzz which is the hallmark of any learning institution rent the air. Father Hillary walked out, no, literary sprung out of his office with such grace defying a man his age, grey hair combed into two hornlike protrusions around his shiny bald head, and the entire lot of students went hush!

Hush as in the buzz was instantly muted. Not because father Hillary shot in the air to hush them or threatened life without parole for anyone who even let out a breath, none of that. His very presence commanded such respect. All the students were now walking humbly, those with loose shirts ducking behind their colleagues to quickly tuck in. Those with dusty shoes rubbed them against their trousers and even the dust that fell off their shoes was in awe of the man! (ok, this last part is all made up)

Damn, even boys with bald heads ran a quick hand over their heads worried that they might have shaggy hair.

He looked like the kind of man to welcome first formers with the words: “Good morning boys, welcome to ‘Al Catraz’!

“Our days are numbered. One of the primary goals in our lives should be to prepare for our last day. The legacy we leave is not just in our possessions, but in the quality of our lives. What preparations should we be making now? The greatest waste in all of our earth, which cannot be recycled or reclaimed, is our waste of the time that God has given us each day.”
Bill Graham

Starehe Boys had Geoffrey William Griffin, in Nyeri High we had Father Hilary. Two colossal disciplinarians locations apart but principles and morals so in tandem with each other that they just might have been reading from the same script. On this, they were like Siamese twins who never met each other.

Had he compromised on morals and principles Nyeri High would not be the institution it is today, it would have probably become like Kiangoma or other undisciplined boy schools around Nyeri. This Kiangoma (literally means ‘of demons’ or the demons’ favorite chill spot) was bad as stink!

And the man is gone now, leaving a legacy that will forever be engraved in our hearts.

I am proud to say that i was in Nyeri high during his tenure as Principal. Am proud to have breathed the same air, walked the same pavements and almost had my butt caned in his office.

No words can express the immense respect we have for this departed hero. In fact they should erect a massive board right before the admin office with the words:

“Father Hillary Wambugu aka Kahia was here!”

May he find peace in the world he has departed to; a world we are all heading to in the womb of the earth.

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4 thoughts on “Father Hilary: You Gotta Know this Legend!

  1. Pingback: Kavau and the bad boys of Yore. | Akhy Mjanja

  2. Pingback: Nyeri High: Nostalgia and Green skirts. | Akhy Mjanja

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