Homage To Professor David Elim Lokapel
Professor Elim Lokapel is dead; he is to be buried 18th march 2016. It is thus a solace to cite the Quran in such a trial-some moment that a living soul must obviously taste death and indeed the soul of Professor, friend, mentor, curator, father, husband and care of humanity Elim David Lokapel has tasted death. The untimely death actually has come to Lokapel family with loud pangs of pain and deep abyss of loss as in the words of Herman Melville that, O death! O death! Why are you ever untimely?
Death of Lokapel is indeed to be equated to the death of inclusive education and culture of empathy in Kenya and the entire east African fraternity. It is professor Elim that triggered an understanding to the conservatists in the Kenyan bourgeoisie education system that the purpose of university education is not to preserve the poor in poverty and perpetuate ennobling of the rich.
Lokapel revolutionized education in Kenya by making it an agent of the poor in struggle towards ability to afford food, house, clean and Medicare. More so he has died when actually he has succeeded to make university education a social tongle of reducing the gap between the poor and the rich, he has done all these against powerful currents of political selfishness and political ethnicity marauding the oceans of famished humanity in poverty in the lands of Kenya and east Africa.
When professor Elim Lokapel came to Mount Kenya University as an organizational development executive in 2011, he found the university at miserable state, sympathetically serving the tribal sentimentalities of the top management, but to the chagrin of us all that saw his institutional adventures ,Professor Lokapel transformed Mount Kenya University from a tribalized business college in Thika town to an institutional Mammoth in a station of world class University, offering trendy courses that are accessible to all willing learners from all parts of east Africa especially the desert areas of,Kampala,Kigali,Juba, Kabarnet, Turkana and North eastern by establishing in this areas fully fledged campuses , his intrapreneurial spirit did tire off at corporate academic ventures in these marginalized areas, he initiated a right for comparison in the process of consumption of education to Rwanda,Uganda,Hargesa and Juba by swiftly opening the branches of Mount Kenya University in these areas with a primary objective of enabling the sons and daughters of poor people to access affordable university and technical education.
No Kenyan bourgeoisie appreciated the efforts of Lokapel, their glory has been to see the Kenyan poor languish most, even some has often tried to usurp the recognition that was supposed to be given to professor Lokapel, and may God forgive them as they are what they are. But we cannot forget to mourn Elim in this juncture by gracing the wisdom in the words of Napoleon Bonaparte that, soldiers fight the war and generals win the medals. It is true in the empirical sense that generals like Simon Gicheru have won the medals from battles Elim fought in the war of taking affordable education to marginalized areas like Kakamega, Kisii, Turkana, Mombasa, Garrisa and Hargesa.
Professor Elim never looked at education through the eyes of conventional and traditional Africa. He looked at education as a commodity to be re-modelled to fit the consumption by the poor; this was so evident when he brought Kibabii University to Lodwar. He did without any support, without money, desks, books, teachers, computers, good climate, food, nor political support, but he did it, now Kibabii university is well and at home in Turkana County standing over a land of more than a hundred acres on the eastern side of Lodwar town.
Professor Lokapel never looked for money in universities, never asked for sexual favours before giving the marks, never practised traditional academic sadism of supervising post graduate students on the basis of brotherism and ethnicity neither did he look for ranks in the university structures, he only looked for an opportunity of making university education accessible to the poor. Those that have tried to vilify his name have only magnified folly and selfish frivolity, they are like a toddler spitting at the full moon in the sky, and it only dirtifys its face. And of course they have a dirty face as per now. Let them learn a lesson and stop being the running dogs to sycophancy fuelled by geniuses in bourgeoisie stupidity so un-countervailed currently in all Kenyan universities.
I say pole Sana, to the wife (widow), bereaved family members and the entire Turkana Community, Kenyan community and entire human family for losing such a paragon of service to human at such a time of organizational challenges in our societies. The gap left behind is difficult to fill but God of our ancestors is able to console us by keeping as well and fit to our future challenges,EJOK NOI.
Alexander Khamala Opicho (at Lodwar, Kenya)