St Andrew’s School Turi- The roots. Long before Mr and Mrs Levet settled in Turi with all its lush splendour; and felt the urgent need for a school, the Mugumo trees stood in their typical majestic and sometimes domineering nature.
The Mugumo or sycamore fig tree had a lot more significance to the natives than it did to the bible professing Christians who had only been around for a few decades. It is therefore amazing to see the trees nearly a century later, their roots firmly in the ground just like the Christian foundation of the school.
Fast forward to 2018; a conversation overheard between bites at the Prep School Staff room on the Turi of Today led by Mr Eames, Prep School headmaster of St Andrew’s between 1983 and . He is astonished at the number of new faces he sees at Turi every day (the population stands at 600). Certainly, he appreciates the 21st Century elements that ensure we are ‘with it’ and make the place cosy but is happy that the spirit of those who fought day and night (against the financial, infrastructural and yes even the fire that burnt the original school to the ground) to leave a legacy for generations to come.
“The heart of the school remains the same”, he quips, and indeed you can see the elements of a Christ led institution all around, not just with the pupils but the staff too.
From the vibrant Christian Union, Chapel sessions to individual yet common actions that sometimes go unnoticed like one prep school pupil’s decision earlier this year to cancel all other activities that coincided with her Bible study time.
To make sense of it all, you need to understand the school’s history.
Like any good historical account, it all began with a love story. Well, of course there’s the part about Mr and Mrs Levet- the original owners of the land needing a school for their children; but we can all agree that love story is far more appealing!
A young man questioning the ultimate ‘higher calling’ into ministry and a well read young lady who took on the role of full-time Mother (though she didn’t have biological children of her own) and teacher to what would eventually be, hundreds of children.
This love story began with a meal and was cemented by a near- death experience at the hands (and legs) of ferocious leopard. To be fair, an encounter with a wild cat in 1930s Kenya was really not extraordinary. The story continues to date as is evidenced by the wonderful sights and sounds on the St Andrew’s School, Turi campus.
While there’s a lot to say about the people who are responsible for the rise and continued success of St Andrews School, Turi; the one that precedes them all is their love. Love for the Creator and all his creation. The minute you walk through the gates of Turi, something- (other than the fresh crisp air, colourful landscape and sounds of nature thriving) tells you it’s a different kind of place. It helps that you are met with warm smiles, kind words and helpful gestures.
This brings to mind John 13:35 “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”; later put beautifully into song by Father Peter Scholtes in “They’ll know we are Christians by our love”
Today, no religious rituals are carried out under the mugumo trees that are spread through the Turi campus as would have been the case centuries ago. However, friendship benches encircle the trunks of the monumental trees where the pupils bond and fellowship.
The Turi experience is indeed a unique one; as those who have come and gone can testify; where the same amount of care is given to scripture as it is to science. Learning delivered at the feet of Mother Nature; where Mugumo trees prosper. We certainly agree with American Scientist, E.O Wilson “Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction” and therefore we have no qualms with being referred to as rural. After all, what better way to fill the minds of young ones with knowledge than in the full view of the wonders of their Creator?
Love for the Lord and Love for learning. That is, the heart of St Andrew’s School, Turi.