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Origin Of The Word ‘Mboch’ Meaning Housemaid

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By Michael Mundia Kamau.

“Mboch” means servant in Giriama. The Giriama are a Kenyan community mainly found at the Kenyan coast, and the Giriama are part of Kenya’s larger Mji Kenda community, Mji Kenda meaning Nine Communities.

The other eight Mji Kenda communities are the Digo, Jibana, Kambe, Chonyi, Duruma, Kauma, Rabai and Ribe.

I belong to different Kenyan generations, aged about 55 years and above today in the year 2024, that were taught about the Mji Kenda, as well as all other Kenyan communities, when we were in primary school, in the now “ancient” seven-six-three (7-6-3) education system, namely:

1. Seven years in primary school after which was sat, in Standard 7, the Certificate of Primary Education (CPE). The last CPE was sat in 1983;

2. Six years in secondary school/high school, broken down into two, that is:

(i). Form 1 to Form 4 (O-Level), after which was sat, in Form 4, the Kenya Certificate of Education (KCE). The last KCE was sat in 1987;

(ii). Form 5 and Form 6 (A-Level), after which was sat, in Form 6, the Kenya Advanced Certificate of Education (KACE). The last KACE was sat in 1989;

3. Three years of training/education at a tertiary institution;

At least four well known Kenyans, today in 2024, who sat the Certificate of Primary Education (CPE), the Kenya Certificate of Education (KCE), and the Kenya Advanced Certificate of Education (KACE), are:

1. H.E. (Dr.) William Samoei Ruto, President of the Republic of Kenya;

3. H.E. Rachel Ruto, First Lady of the Republic of Kenya;

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4. H.E. Rigathi Gachagua, Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya;

5. H.E. Dorcas Rigathi, Second Lady of the Republic of Kenya;

In the days of the first East African Community of 1967 to 1977, the Kenya Certificate of Education (KCE) was known as the East African Certificate of Education (EACE), and the same EACE was sat by Form 4 students (O-Level students) in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

In the days too of the first East African Community of 1967 to 1977, the Kenya Advanced Certificate of Education (KACE) was known as the East African Advanced Certificate of Education (EAACE), and the same EAACE was sat by Form 6 students (A-Level students) in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

The last EACE was sat in 1978, and the last EAACE too was also sat in 1978.

Kenya’s current Prime Cabinet Secretary, H.E. Musalia Mudavadi was in Form 6 in 1979, and therefore sat the Kenya Advanced Certificate of Education (KACE).

H.E. Musalia Mudavadi was in Form 4 in 1977, and therefore sat the East African Certificate of Education (EACE).

The current Speaker of the Kenya Parliament, Hon. Moses Wetangula, is slightly older than H.E. Musalia Mudavadi, and in his case, Hon. Moses Wetangula, in his time, sat both the East African Certificate of Education (EACE), and the East African Advanced Certificate of Education (EAACE).

Kenya’s current Attorney-General, Hon. Justin Muturi, in his time, also sat both the East African Certificate of Education (EACE), and the East African Advanced Certificate of Education (EAACE).

Those times seem so distant now.

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In my interactions over the years, I have sometimes mentioned different things my generation were taught in primary school, such as about the Mji Kenda and other different Kenyan communities, to the shock and surprise of different people I have interacted with over the years.

The seven-six-three (7-6-3) education system was a good education system, not a perfect one, but a good one, though in saying so, I am not advocating for a return back to the seven-six-three (7-6-3) education system.

Also, what we today know as the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), was known as Voice of Kenya (VOK) from 1964 to 1989.

From 1928 to 1964, what we today know as the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), was known as the Kenya Broadcasting Service (KBS).

The Kenya Broadcasting Service (KBS), and Voice of Kenya (VOK), were a State owned monopoly in Kenya from 1928 to 1989.

In the 1960s, the 1970s and the 1980s, Voice of Kenya (VOK) Radio, through the Educational Media Service (EMS) of the Kenya Institute of Education (KIE), transmitted radio lessons, across Kenya, in both Kiswahili and English, between 10:00 a.m. in the morning and 12:00 noon, on weekdays, and between 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon and 4:00 p.m. in the evening, on weekdays.

These radio lesson broadcasts on Voice of Kenya (VOK) Radio back in the 1960s, the 1970s and the 1980s, were of great benefit to many Kenyans in different parts of the country, and were another bolster for the Kenyan education system back in those days. Some of those Voice of Kenya (VOK) radio lessons, back then, even taught the French language (French for beginners).

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Quite a number of teachers in different parts of Kenya back then, regularly simply brought radios to class and switched them on during the Voice of Kenya (VOK) radio lesson broadcasts.

Voice of Kenya (VOK) Radio back in those days, also broadcast Adult Literacy lessons from about 7:30 p.m. in the evening on weekdays.

Like I say, those times seem so distant now. Nevertheless, either the “Daily Nation,” the “Saturday Nation,” or the “Sunday Nation,” could consider publishing this letter in public interest.

The Kenyan education system is currently in turmoil and maybe we can all help move the Kenyan education system forward, by looking back and borrowing from the past, such as the Voice of Kenya (VOK) radio lesson broadcasts of the 1960s, the 1970s, and the 1980s.


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