1. Who is John Theuri?
John Theuri Gachambi is the current President of Dedan Kimathi University of Technology Students’ Organization. (My last name is the most important one all in the honor of my Mum❤️). I am also a 5th year student pursuing Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Electronics Engineering.
Most importantly, I’m a Christian and a father of NONE. I am also a dedicated High School mentor and a debator. I am a footballer, playing for Black Stars Fc. Finally, I am very funny and very emotional but not hot-tempered.
2. Walking around as the President of DeKUT. How does that feel?
It is the best feeling that one would ever have for a campus life. It’s beyond imaginable happiness. On the other hand, it’s extremely demanding and you can easily lose yourself if you’re not careful. You need to master the art of tolerance and balance between leadership and Academics. (Although I have already mastered the art of balance since high school and I am doing well)
3. What do you love most about DeKUT?
I love the conducive environment that it has for it’s students. So far, it’s the most preferred public university in Kenya. Timely completion of studies and lack of unnecessary strikes among other factors have led to the rise of the university. (All thanks goes to the Vice Chancellor for maintaining the name of the university and the students in general for their high level of maturity)
4. When are we likely to come back to school?
I would wish to be excused from this question but all I can comment about it is that the opening of the universities country wide is dependent on the head of state’s directives. However, the university is already prepared to have some students back but further directions will come from the university management.
5. Comment on online learning.
It is a hectic kind of a system which doesn’t offer inclusiveness and equality. However, the university has tried to solve some of these problems together with DeKUTSO council but it’s very unfortunate that the issues can’t be handled 100%. Although as of Wednesday this week, majority of the students have managed to access the system and the university is yet to release a plan for those who never managed to access the system… It was a promise that they made to DeKUTSO council that no student will be disadvantaged. The process is under-way.
I won’t comment about the advantages of online learning. That’s an individual question but the general one is that students will complete their studies somehow on time.
6. What has your biggest challenge been as President?
My biggest challenge has been Covid19. I remember our Vice Chancellor called it Covid99 during the virtual Graduation. This thing is huge. I wanted to show my real skills in leadership but it’s very unfortunate that I can only do it online. This disease is just mad.
7. What has your happiest moment been in while in the Dekutso council?
My happiness and love has always been geared towards true leadership. I am privileged to have a strong and united team in the council. I have always seen them working tirelessly even when the students are away from the university and to me, this is the best calling that each student who wants to ascend into these positions should have. Their level of reasoning and understanding has always strengthened my ability to lead them.
8. What lesson have you learned during your time in leadership?
I have learnt so many lessons while in leadership. Because of time, I will only say a few:
(i) Leadership is a calling and if you’re not ready to sacrifice what you have (including yourself), don’t try it. You gonna curse the day you were born
(ii) When in leadership, you don’t have to follow what the masses are saying. All you need to do is listen to them and make the best decision for them
(iii) Leadership is not for the faint-hearted, if you truly can’t endure the opposition, you better resign and start another career.
(iv) I have realized that PLO Lumumba misled us when he sayed that those with power have no ideas but those with ideas have no power. That statement should only be used as a campaigning tool and nothing else. When you’re given power, you’ll realize that some of your ideas are useless and are not applicable
9. What has your journey to the position of President been like?
The journey has not been that smooth especially when it comes to elections. One thing you will realize about campus elections is that the general mode of conduct has really changed. The delegate system has been one of the most demanding modes of election and very expensive at the same time. Spending almost half a million is not a joke. I started my journey back in first year (It took me almost 4 years to ascend into power). Before I joined the university, I was a school Captain in high school. I became a class-rep in first year, EEE department representative in second year as well as a delegate in the same year, faculty representative school of Engineering in third year and finally the University President.
I have also served as the Equity Nyeri Leaders club’s President for three years – a position I resigned from after becoming the University president.
I have also served as the Chairperson of DeKUT Debate Club. (I am the founder of that club by the way) It has been a long journey
10. Did you say that you used half a million to get into office? Can you tell us what that was used for? And how were you able to finance it?
I previously said that the delegate system is the most time consuming method of election and at the same time very expensive… I started planning myself an year before and spotting potential delegates in every department is not a walk in the park. All this time, my ground team was not just drinking water, no! Now do the math and tell me what will remain. Fortunately enough, I met the current Sec Gen and the Security entertainment secretary after six months and we combined our efforts towards a common goal and it’s from there that the financial workload eased a bit. I can’t generally say what exactly the money was used for but a simple answer would be, the system is very expensive.
It’s actually a very small amount of money to those who really understand politics from the very grassroots…Not that you don’t understand but I know you’ve never tried it. That’s why you’re wondering 😂
In campus politics, never expect money from national politicians. They will not give you anything.. They give empty promises… Although there are some who are good.
I forgot to tell you that I worked before joining university in two big different companies: KTDA as an accountant immediately after high school and fro there I made friends. Secondly, I worked in Equity Bank immediately after KCSE results where I also made friends with the likes of Mr. Wambua, Simon and CEO Dr. James Mwangi who I still work together with under different platforms. Getting money to source your campaigns/strategies is not a one day thing.
11. Comment about politics in Kimathi
Politics in Kimathi is one of the best ever. We always have two sides competing against each other. One side is always full of noise making while the other side is full of strategy. (Noise vs Strategy). Any side can win by the way. Since 2016, one side has been winning and has only lost once.
It will take several years to change the current political setting in our campus. Some call it tribal politics but it’s not. I look forward to the one man one vote system. That was the real deal.
12. What is your political ambition?
I beg to skip this question but it’s always my dream to become the President of this country. Don’t worry about when.
13. What do you wish you can change about Kimathi? There has to be something.
I wish a lot of things changed in this university:
(i) The university to have a modern Students’ centre.
(ii) The university to build enough and modern internal hostels that would allow students to fit in at a cheaper price.
(iii) The university to realize that it’s not a high school and construct a modern gate.
(iv) The university to install Wi-Fi everywhere within the university.
(v) The university to construct a swimming pool where one would swim to relax the minds after a long lecture.
(vi) The university to realize that it’s not only for academics but it’s also meant to nurture talents.
14. I agree with you on the point about nurturing talents. Currently, if you are talented and you want to kill your talent, you join our university as a student. Anyway, unlike me and the rest of us, you’re in a better position to push for such changes. What progress have you made so far?
Yeah. I have made a huge step in ensuring what I wish to have is heard by the management. Luckily, I am privileged to have worked with a team which always wanted to make changes in this university. Recently, we made some proposals on what we want to be done and I can share with you a small document relating to those proposals.
15. Your term will be coming to an end soon. What will your legacy be?
It will be known even in years to come that the impassable road from Greens hostels towards Nyaribo was a deadly road and had claimed the lives of multiple students. There is no council that had managed to solve that issue. The first project I did was to ensure that the issue was resolved by the relevant authorities through erection of bumps… There has been no deaths since then.
The other thing that I would like to categorically state is that there has been a peaceful learning environment before the pandemic overwhelmed us. The previous baseless strikes attempted by the previous councils has not happened during my tenure because we worked early enough to prevent such cases from happening. Laziness and reluctance in one’s work should not disturb the general peace of students. I don’t mean that we can’t call for a strike, but we need to have a substantial reason for a strike. I hope the proposals on the document I sent to you will be worked upon. I don’t want to say that we’ve worked triple compared to the previous council but we are somewhere ahead.
16. Give a shout out to any young leaders in Kimathi
I wish only to recognize a few leaders:
1. Charles Muriithi (Mureeh)
I have no words to describe the power and energy that Mureeh has. He is the Chairman of Mt Kenya group foundation and also an international Adviser to Melighan Group of Germany.
2. Victor Karanja
He is a capable fellow and I am soon expecting him in a higher position like that of an Mp.
3. Aaron Ayub
This is the guy who has made the university to deliver what it must to the engineering students.
4. Finally, my DeKUTSO council leaders who have dedicated their efforts to serving DeKUT comrades.
This has been a pleasure and very enlightening. What’s your parting shot?
This has been an year of struggle and we can’t blame anyone for that. God had a reason as to why this happened during my tenure. I would have wished to fulfill my manifesto but the Covid19 thing wouldn’t allow me to do as much as I would have wished.. I will fulfill this somewhere in future