First Kenyan British Police officer with Big Ambition
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THE FIRST KENYAN ever to become a British Bobby is one of Lincolnshire’s finest and about to return home to start the project to build a school in the village where his parents still live.
When 30 yr old Jesee Karanga joined Lincolnshire Police in June 2010 he achieved yet another of the ambitions he set himself when he was a child living in his home village in the shadow of Mount Kenya. “I am so proud and so are my parents,” he says. “I think that I might be the first Kenyan ever to have become a British Bobby.”
With less than four months under a helmet, Jesee has already clocked up countless arrests for offences including robbery, sexual assault, theft, anti-social behaviour and domestic disputes. “I just love the job,” he says. “I always knew it was going to be as good as this!”
His life story so far is one of determined success in the face of considerable adversity. He grew up in the province of Nyeri living in the village of Mbari-ya-Maingi. His home was a hut moulded from mud and straw with a battered, leaking corrugated iron roof living with the rest of his family – mum, dad and four siblings all younger than him. There was no access to free education but he was determined to get one and that would have cost money which his parents simply didn’t have.
“I had this burning ambition to travel to England and become a policeman and knew I couldn’t possibly do that without a decent education,” says Jesee. But his daily 2 mile walk for the eight years of his primary schooling was trivial compared to the challenges he was to face in his determined pursuit of a secondary education.
“I couldn’t have done it at all without the help of the villagers of Mbari-ya-Maingi,” he says. The only high school he could attend had the reputation of being Kenya’s best – Chinga Boys Boarding School at Gahukimundu, 25 kilometres from his home village. But the school fees were beyond most people’s reach. “Even with 10,000 people in my village fund raising just for me, that still was not enough to pay the fees,” says Jesee. He says he can’t remember the number of times he was sent home because the fees weren’t up to date. “Every time I was sent home I used to sneak back and because the teachers liked me they used to let me swap classes so the headmaster didn’t see me when he came to check on numbers,” he says.
“Most of my friends were in a similar position. They gave up but I was determined to see it through and leave with a qualification,” he says. But Jesee knew that however much he managed to avoid the headmaster’s checks, he would not be allowed to take the final exams. “So I saved and took a bus the 150 kilometres to Nairobi and saw the Director of Education for Kenya. She gave me a letter for the headmaster which directed that he allow me to take the exam – and I passed,” he says with a big broad smile.
By creating and running a small business producing posters he eventually paid off the debts for his schooling. Despite passing out with honours he had to face the simple fact that he could not afford the higher fees to put himself through University, so he decided to do that after he achieved one of those other ambitions – to travel to England and pursue his life there.
He admits that one lucky break – he describes it as a ‘lucky, lucky break’ – was when he met a young white woman who was visiting a children’s home in Nairobi where Jesee was playing the piano and working. That woman happened to be the business continuity manager at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs staff college at Lawress Hall, near Lincoln – Dawn who is also now Jesee’s wife! In fact he worked at Lawress Hall for the first 4 years of his life in England, visiting home at least once a year to spend time improving the lifestyle of his family and contributing to the lives of the villagers who had helped him so much through his early years. On each trip home he also takes suitcases full of clothes to hand out to the deprived people of the area. “It just gives me so much pleasure to be able to give something back to them.”
Jesee is currently studying for a degree in politics at the Open University and after graduating intends studying law.
He says he could not have successfully seen himself through his education without a lot of help from the people in his village. And it’s returning that help he was given that now occupies most of his spare time in pay-back to his family and the village.
One of his first projects after he left Mbari-ya-Maingi in 2005 was to finance and build his parents a more substantial house which was stable and didn’t leak. He designed it inside and out on his computer whilst in England and then went out to Kenya up to twice a year to see the project through. That he has done and quite apart from being the pride of the village and being known as the ‘White House’, it is the only one with electricity – supplied from a generator – which he fitted and wired up for them.
Above Image: Parents New Home
He hopes the current project will end up providing electricity for the whole village. And that project is to build not so much a school but an academy! “My plan is to start with a Primary School and then a High School and then a small University so that young deprived people from the area where I used to live and from all over Kenya have the opportunity to receive a full education right up to degree level,” he says. “Something I had so many obstacles to achieving,” says Jesee.
Jesee will be travelling to his parents home in Mbari-ya-Maingi later in August to meet with local officials try and identify a suitable piece of land, and discuss the feasibility of the project.
He then hopes to take a small team of experts out to the location later in the year and then return again early in 2012 to start the building. “We will be raising money and sponsorship from a range of companies and sources in the UK,” says Jesee. “It’s a massive task but so was building my parents a home. I have a group of friends and business partners around me who are keen to help.”
His long term plans include organising exchange trips for young people to and from Mbari-ya-Maingi to build an appreciation of life in their.