Jeremiah Nyagah (1952-1954)

a former Culham student who became a leading Kenya Government Minister

Jeremiah Nyagah had been teaching in a number of schools and colleges in Kenya before he studied at Culham from 1952-1954. When he returned to Kenya, the country was on the verge of independence.  

During the Mau Mau war of liberation, Jeremiah integrated the independent schools run by the Kikuyu Independent Schools Association into the leadership of District Education Boards. 

He established himself as a moderate politician in the struggle and was among the nationalists who attended the Lancaster House Constitutional Conference which negotiated Kenya’s independence.

After being elected to Legislative Council in 1958, Jeremiah Nyagah joined a small multi-racial band of idealists - known as Capricorn Society - in 1960.  The group believed that only a future without racial discrimination would allow East and Central African countries to prosper.

During his illustrious career Jeremiah was the first black African to be appointed Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Council. He was also appointed to the Cabinet and held several ministerial portfolios including Education, Agriculture, Environment, and Water and Natural Resources.

Jeremiah’s son, the Kenyan MP Joseph Nyagah, says his father was always very proud of having been a student at Culham and often recalled his time there. Jeremiah may have been a son of Culham but he was one of the founding fathers of Kenya.

It was also symbolic that at his funeral a new dawn beckoned as President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga ventured out for their first public engagement a day after Kenya’s Grand Coalition Cabinet took office.

The event brought Kenya’s past and present politicians together under one banner as newly sworn-in ministers, drawn from rival parties, adjusted to sharing power. A fitting tribute to a man who life was characterised by humility, dedication, honesty, patriotism and whose vision was one united Kenya.  

 Jeremiah Nyagah died 10 April 2008.