It’s 7:35 am and Mwangi is on his second pair of trousers. Trousers for many fundis (tailors) are a headache but to him it’s one of the easier garments to stitch; easier than a dress, he says. He trained as a Menswear tailor after all!
John Mwangi has been a tailor for 35 years; a decision he made when his father could not afford his A levels school fees. He, like many Kenyans, had his career path determined by a mix of circumstances and the immediate need for an income. Born in 1969, Mwangi is a long-time resident of Turi whose family moved here in 1973.
If it were up to him, teenage John would much rather have been conducting mass at 7:35 am on this particular morning like 12 of his classmates at St Joseph’s Seminary Molo who went on to be Priests. When it was clear his circumstances did not align with his dreams, he quickly signed up for a tailoring course and soon became his trainer’s right-hand man.
Like any entrepreneur, Mwangi did his calculations and decided that his share of the cake was disproportionate to his input and shortly after he set up shop in Turi.
(This is the point at which we feel the need to clarify that while many people out there think Turi is simply the name of our school, it is actually the name of the area in which the school is situated- a Ward to be exact. )
Almost a decade later Mwangi was contracted to assist the Turi (This time referring to St Andrew’s School, Turi) Tailor with piece work. He played a supporting role, often coming to collect what needed to be worked on and doing the work from his own premises. Two years later he officially became part of Turi and anyone who knows, recognizes the importance of Mwangi at the school.
From table linen, masks, curtains, labeling the pupils’ clothing, staff uniforms, furniture covers, bean bags, curtains and occasionally outfits for individuals within the community; the name is Mwangi. Most recently and as it happens occasionally he was given an assignment whose turnaround time was very short- to stitch the “90” banner for our birthday celebrations. He admits, this was not an ordinary request and it did challenge him quite a bit but as always he delivered!
Mwangi is an important part of St Andrew’s, often working behind the scenes like many others to make sure that the school we see looks and feels good.
Today we celebrate you John Mwangi, man behind the 90 and many others that add to the beauty and function of our school.