Geoffrey William Griffin

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Dr. Geoffrey William Griffin OBE (15 June 1933 in Eldoret – 28 June 2005) was the founding director of Starehe Boys' Centre and School in Kenya. He founded the centre in November, 1959 with the help of the late Geoffrey Gatama Geturo and Joseph Kamiru Gikubu. [1] Griffin was director of the center from its founding to his death in his death in 2005. He was also the founding director of the National Youth Service between 1964 and 1988, before he retired from the Kenyan Civil Service.

In addition to their duties at Starehe Centre, Griffin and Geturo were appointed (and re-appointed) members of Kenya's Central Probation Commission. The Commission was a group appointed by Daniel arap Moi, the second President of Kenya, who at the time of the 1974 Commission was acting in his capacity as Vice-President and Minister for Home Affairs, a ministry responsible for all non-foreign affairs of the country.[2]


By virtue of education at The Prince of Wales School, Nairobi, Kenya between 1945-1950, boys' high school which later changed its name to Nairobi School, Griffin is a member of the Old Cambrian Society, an alumni and staff association. He was a student member of Grigg House while at the school.[3]

After leaving school "early" (meaning he completed the first four years of high school, but did not complete the additional two years of advanced high school required for admission to university in Kenya), he first joined the Survey of Kenya, and then the King's African Rifles (KAR). After serving during the Emergency, and tired of the brutality of war, he became convinced of the justice of the Mau Mau cause.[4] He did not review his commission, and began to participate in attempts to rehabilitate former fighters held or recently released from detention camps. After some years, his attention turned to children orphaned by the war, and he started a rescue centre, out of which grew Starehe.

Griffin rose to become an educational leader and was awarded an honorary Ph.D. in Education by Kenyatta University for developing Starehe Boys' Centre and School into becoming one of the premier schools -- not only in Kenya but also in Africa and other parts of the world where Starehe has renown as a centre of educational excellence.

He was awarded the MBS (Moran of the Order of the Burning Spear) by President Kenyatta in 1970, the MGH (Moran of the Order of the Golden Heart) by President Daniel arap Moi in 1986, appointed an Officer in the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in 2002, and a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights in 2005.[5]

Starehe Boys' Centre[edit]

Griffin founded Starehe Boys' Centre in July, 1959 together with Joseph Kamiru Gikubu and Geoffrey Gatama Geturo. The Centre then only had two tiny huts erected by donation from the Shell-BP Petrolem Company. The two huts, which are still present at the Centre served as dormitories for the first waifs brought in from the streets. Kenya was going through a tough time under the tough Emergency Regulations declared in 1952. It was amid suspicion and even hostility from some of the authorities, local people and the first boys themselves that the Centre was officially opened on the 14th November, 1959.[6]

Griffin together with his co-founders sourced for funds from many great organizations like the Save the Children Fund of Great Britain. Save the Children became Starehe’s largest overseas supporter. The Dulverton Trust and Oxfam, various trusts, foundations, charitable bodies and many volunteer agencies helped to build up the teaching staff, and a growing number of private individuals, schools and societies contributed to the running costs of the Centre by ‘sponsoring’ particular boys.

Starehe offers a free, high-quality, education to many orphaned and poor African children, on a model similar to Christ's Hospital. Many alumni are now prominent people in Kenya and the world. Raphael Tuju, retired Cabinet Minister; Paul Ereng, Olympic gold Medalist; Dr. Amrose Misore, former Senior Deputy Director of Medical Services, and by 2010 Project Director of PATH's USAID-funded AIDS Population & Health Integrated Assistance Program (APHIA) II Western;[7] and Prof. George Magoha, Medical Surgeon & Urologist and current Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nairobi, are just a few of the Old Stareheans.

The first successor to Griffin as Director of Starehe Boys' Centre & School was Professor Jesse Mugambi, a respected and renowned educator in Kenya and previously professor of philosophy at the University of Nairobi. Three of his sons have passed through Starehe Boys' Centre as students at different times when Griffin was still the director. Mugambi resigned from his duties as Director of Starehe Boys' Centre on Friday, January 16, 2009. The reason given for his sudden resignation was that the University of Nairobi had refused to extend his contract and required him to resume his duties as a professor of Philosophy.


  1. ^ Boys Centre website (external link; accessdate=02/15/2012)
  2. ^ Kenya Gazette, Vol. LXXVI, No. 7; February 8, 1974.
  3. ^ Old Cambrian Society, Nairobi School; Obit page: Geoffrey Griffin, 2005.
  4. ^ The Times of London; August 18, 2005; online obituary.
  5. ^ The East Standard (external link to news article ID# 23985) Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ "History of Starehe – Starehe Boys Centre". Retrieved 2018-07-11.
  7. ^ PATH (Program for Appropriate Technology in Health) website; FY 2010 newspage.

External links[edit]


  • Geoffrey Griffin (1994) School Mastery: Straight Talk About Boarding School Management in Kenya, (Nairobi: Lectern Publications).
  • Roger Martin (1978) Anthem of bugles: the story of Starehe Boys Centre and School, (Nairobi, London : Heinemann Educational).
  • Kennedy O.A. Hongo & Jesse N.K. Mugambi (2000) Starehe Boys Centre: School and Institute. The first forty years 1959-1999 (Nairobi: Acton Publishers)