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Monday, April 21, 2014

Tale of man who commuted from Kenya to attend school in US every week

It may read like fiction, but one man commuted to school every week to America. The determined Kenyan would leave Nairobi on Wednesday evening, attend mandatory classes and start the journey back home on Saturday, arriving at noon on Monday.
An hour later he would be at his desk at the Kenya College of Accounting. Yes, for two years Daniel Musungu Oruoch travelled over 30,000km every week to the Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, and he missed only two classes; one when he was ill and another one when his mother died.

He was 49 when he enrolled and his troubles would earn him a doctorate. soon to become the first Vice Chancellor of KCA University.
Prof Oruoch retraces this remarkable journey of life in his autobiography, Dribbling Alone, published by the Aura books. In the book he underplays his achievements, coming out as incredibly humble for a man who beat all odds to work in reputable organisations like the General Motors, Kenya Institute of Administration, and Kigali Institute of Management.
Bares all
He writes that he chose to go his own way, rather than societal will. Regardless, he poses in the preface: Who am I? “Even after more than 30 years in various high level management positions, I have never yet believed that I have any extraordinary qualities. I do not see any leadership abilities within myself…”
But wait a minute. This is a man who was born in abject poverty and subjected to a life of abuse by an alcoholic father. His mother struggled to keep him in school, which he attended in tatters and with discipline and focus managed top grades. He attended St Peters Secondary School, Mumias, and Cardinal Otunga High School for his A levels before joining the University of Nairobi.
Born in 1952, Oruoch led his life with the “religious piety” ideology, drummed into him by his mother whose enduring mantra was, “Pray, pray, pray.”
But Dribbling Alone is not a hagiography — a biography of a saint.  You see when people write memoirs they tend to selectively leave out the negative side of their personalities. But Oruoch bares it all.
A father of five grown and well-educated children, Oruoch was a strict disciplinarian. An irony because growing up, he detested his father’s iron rule. But to his credit, his children allude that his leadership shaped their destinies positively.
He unflatteringly describes himself as anxious, insecure and introverted. “To fit my acquired persona I portray an image of a brave confident and an outgoing individual…”
But many people who know and associated with Prof Oruoch in his career might dismiss this owing to his track record.
When he joined KCA in April 1994 as the executive director, the college was “near dead”. It had 300 students operating in one floor at a building in Westlands. He took the position when his private consultancy, Capital Guardians, which he registered after leaving GM, was flourishing.
He does not give reasons for choosing the public sector to private, where, he says after retirement he had not amassed wealth to the chagrin of his relatives whom he used to assist during his working days.

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