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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A Brief History of the Man behind The Center’s Vision

The late Dr. Crispin Odhiambo Mbai was born on October 25th 1954. He grew up a healthy, active and loving child under the care of his parents. Like his peers in the family Dr. Mbai spent most of his childhood life very close to his then retired and respected Ex – Senior Chief Obonyo Anayo an interaction that greatly influenced Dr. Mbai’s adult life attitude, character and personality.

In 1961, Dr. Mbai enrolled for lower primary education at Ligisa day primary school. Upon completing the basic level education in 1964, he transferred to St. Joseph Nyabondo Boys Boarding for upper primary education. He sat for the Certificate of Primary Education in 1969. In 1970, Dr. Mbai joined Mirogi Secondary School where he remained until 1972. In 1973, he transferred to Londiani Secondary School where he sat for the East African Certificate of Education in 1973. The following year, Dr. Mbai proceeded to Cardinal Otunga High School where he sat for the East African Advanced Certificate of Education (EAACE).

In 1976, he was admitted at the University of Nairobi for a degree course in the Faculty of Arts, which completed in 1976 graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government and Sociology. During that same year, Dr. Mbai enrolled for a Master of Arts Degree at the same University, which he completed in 1981. On completing his M.A. programme, Dr. Mbai joined the civil service in the position of Personnel Officer II. Initially in the Ministry of Transport and Communication and latter in the Ministry of Health. In 1985 he moved to the Kenya Medical Research Institute as Principal Administrative Officer responsible for personnel and research administration.

At the time of joining the civil service Dr. Mbai had his mind focused on pursuing further education. The only obstacle was lack of scholarship, which, however, he trusted he would secure at some stage and realize his dream. In 1987, Dr. Mbai was awarded a World Bank Scholarship and a University of Toronto Open Fellowship for Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programme at the University of Toronto, Canada. He graduated with a Ph.D. degree in political science in 1992. His major and minor areas of specialization were policy analysis and comparative politics, respectively.

In 1992, armed with the requisite tools of the game, Dr. Mbai resigned from his position at KEMRI and joined University of Nairobi, Department of Government. The overriding consideration in making this move was his desire to pay back in kind what he himself had benefited from the same institution a few years back. He was very keen to facilitate the development of competent manpower that is any country’s bedrock for sustainable development. At the University of Nairobi, Dr. Mbai taught a number of courses; both at undergraduate and graduate levels supervised graduate students and examined many graduate dissertations.

Dr. Mbai was promoted to Senior Lecturer in the year 2000 and subsequently appointed Chairman, Department of political science and Public Administration, a position in which he served briefly up to 14th September 2003 when the life was cut short in the “safety” of his house by trigger happy persons. Dr. Mbai also served as the Executive Director of the African Centre for Policy and Development Research (ACPDR).

Between the time he completed his Bachelors degree and when his life was cut short, he had to his credit, nineteen finalized research and consultancy projects, had prepared and presented nine Conference and Workshop papers, had produced four research publications, reviewed one book, supervised and examined seven M.A. Theses.

Among the key organizations he consulted for were the Kenya Trypanosomiasis Research Institute (KETRI), the Kenya Directorate of Personnel Management (DPM), United Nations Drugs Control Programme (UNDCP), united Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank. During his short but illustrious and dynamic career, Dr. Mbai easily won recognition from various organizations as exemplified by the numerous prestigious awards he received from such organizations like DANIDA, IDRC, the World Bank, University of Toronto, Historical Association of Kenya, AACC, and UNFPA. Dr Mbai was a member of various professional associations including the Canadian Association of African Studies (CAAS), Association of African Political Science (AAPS). He was also a guest editor of the African Urban Quarterly Journal.

At the time of his painful death, Dr. Mbai had initiated a number of new research projects and was contemplating embarking on others in the following areas: Democracy and Governance in Africa; Agro-business and Economic Liberalization in Kenya; Health Care services Reforms in Kenya; Local Government and Democratization Process in Kenya; and Regional Integration and Conflict Resolution in Africa. Indeed, as his body lay motionless in the cold room, one of his colleagues in the Faculty had to fly to Zanzibar to present a paper Dr Mbai had prepared hoping to present at a conference in that country.

Away from the world of academia, Dr. Mbai is remembered as a soft spoken, forthright, honest and effective mobiliser of his people in pursuit of better human life. His mind was constantly focused on productive work and had no time for idlers. He had time for those who dealt with him directly not those depending on intermediaries. Dr. Mbai hated mediocrity right from his days in high school. He cherished constructive engagement, which he considered the foundation of excellence in any academic and professional undertaking. He was generous and instrumental in initiating community self help projects and provided counsel on how to efficiently manage them. He was the Chairman, Board of Governors at Ligisa Secondary School, Homa Bay District. Dr. Mbai supported many less privileged bright children to continue their education. His death has therefore spelt doom many hitherto hopeful young Kenyans.

At the time of his death, Dr. Mbai was a delegate and the Chairman of the sub committee on devolution of power at the National Constitutional Conference of Kenya.


Unknown said...

Enter your comment...It is very painful to lose such a brain
.May his soul rest in eternal peace

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