Kianda Foundation i la primera escola multirracial

Kianda Foundation està a l’origen de Kimlea Girls Technical Training Centre i Kianda School. En aquest article del Sunday Standard de l’any 2005 es parla de l’Olga Marlin, a qui algunes vam tenir la sort de conèixer.

A l’article, s’explica com va ser possible aconseguir els permisos per iniciar una escola oberta a blancs, negres i indis, en un moment que Nairobi encara estava totalment dividida en barris segons les races.

Va ser gràcies a l’ambaixada del Japó. Aquí s’explica la història (val la pena llegir tot l’article i el llibre d’Olga Marlin, To Africa with a dream, publicat en castellà amb el títol Con un sueño en África):

But nothing had quite prepared her for the shocking reality on the ground. She arrived in Kenya when residential areas were segregated, as were clubs, schools, restaurants, and even the public transport system.

Social interactions between the races was taboo, and Olga and her group soon realised that they would have a difficult time selling the idea of a multi-racial school that would see white students learning side by side with their Asian and African peers.

Initially the idea was to set up a finishing school which would give African women a chance to acquire secretarial skills in courses that would help them get better jobs and uplift their living standards. At the time, Olga says, people thought they were mad to even come up with such an idea, but a female member of the Kenyatta family whom the group met soon after their arrival, gave them the courage to move on.

“You have arrived at a very good time to open a school for girls. Our women need education to become self-reliant, respect themselves and make themselves respected. This can only happen when they are financially independent. Your school should provide them with the necessary skills,” the Kenyatta family member said.

After a brief teaching stint at Kenya High School, then a whites-only school, Olga moved on to carry out their vision.

By 1961, after months of giving music lessons and coaching students in various subjects to raise money, the group was ready to start.

But there was a problem. One of the students was Goan and the city council would hear nothing of registering Kianda, first located in Valley Arcade — a white residential area — and two with a non-European student on board.

They would first have to seek the approval of the residents, the council said.

Her proposal to the residents was flatly rejected and Marlin was crushed. “It was simply one of the worst moments of my life,” she says.

She then knew that they would have to move out of the area if their mission to give African girls a chance to study was to be fulfilled.

One of her students offered to help. Her father, Paddy Rouche, owned an estate agency in Nairobi’s Westlands and had just identified a parcel of land along Waiyaki Way (Kianda School’s present location), which was on the border of a reserve on which the Japanese embassy also stood.

At this time, the government also decided to declare some plots in the area multi-racial and Kianda (Kikuyu for valley) finally found a home which would be led by Olga until 1980.

It would be the first of several educational institutions put up by the Kianda Foundation in its quest to uplift the educational standards and general welfare of women in Kenya.

Registered in 1961 in Nairobi, its development has over the years given rise to a primary and secondary schools as well as the Kibondeni Catering School and the Kimlea Girls Technical Training College in Kiambu.

The latter has saved hundreds of girls from the degrading and exploitative child labour rampant on the coffee plantations in the district.

Sort que van haver de fer lloc per als japonesos!

I encara una altra cita, que demostra que no només calia alliberar-se de prejudicis racials:

To Olga, the eldest child in a family of six, African women were in a vicious circle those days: “They needed education for freedom and freedom to be educated.

Val a dir que la família de l’Olga sembla excepcional…