Strathmore Personalities: Anthony Kahindi
In his early professional life at Strathmore University, he once sat at the then School of Accountancy (SOA) help desk and worked at the credit control office before rising through the ranks to become the Finance Director and now to occupy the University Secretary office. He doesn’t shy away from sitting at an unmanned administrative desk if required to do so at the spur of the moment. Anthony Kahindi, sits on the Management Board and currently oversees the finance, administration and operations strategy of the University, leading the teams in finance, people and culture, procurement, ICT, communications, admissions, administration, medical centre, housekeeping, cafeteria, and security and safety.
Beyond the walls of SU, he is on the board of the Orione Community Centre in Rongai and over the weekends, among other interests, takes part in cultural activities that enrich the lives of young men here in Nairobi and in the town that raised him – Machakos.
He’s at ease with human interactions, cracking jokes and teasing people as he makes his way from one corner of the University to the other. His personality comes in handy – he’s Choleric/Sanguine.
His boisterous laugh accompanies us during the interview as he tells us the genesis of scars he bears that tell the tales of mischief and adventures of his childhood.
Was little Anto good?
The best person to ask this are other parties – parents, siblings – because they know how we truly behaved. What I recall though is that my father disciplined me only once. But even then, he really didn’t work on me thoroughly, if you know what I mean. Mum was the disciplinarian – like any typical African mother. I remember many instances where I was on the receiving end for having done something cheeky. From time to time she reminds me that if she hadn’t done it, I would have turned out differently. I’ve learnt a lot from her. If you think I am crazy about time, you haven’t met her. She makes me look like I have no regard for time. For instance, on visiting days, if she wasn’t there by 9 am, I knew she wasn’t coming.
Are there any instances of mischief that you remember?
One time I was fooling around with the power mains in church. I have no idea why I did that but the memory of the strong current of electricity that ran through me always reminds me that I’m fortunate I am still alive.
Do you see this scar on my chin? Our house manager was washing clothes and soapy water was spilling over to the corridor. So I took it as an opportunity to slide. Well, during one of the slides, I fell and bit my lower lip so hard. I didn’t dare tell my mother; I had to be mpole and keep out of trouble until it healed. She got to know about it years later.
There’s another bigger scar I have but I don’t dare relate its origin.
What was it like growing up as the only boy in the household?
I am the first born and have two younger sisters. Being the first child meant that I learnt everything – how to clean the house, washing sufurias, do my own laundry, cook…
I grew up in Machakos town and went to Township Muslim Primary School which was sponsored by the Islamic Foundation of Kenya. We had to be in school by 6 am; I hope my sister didn’t suffer too much as I moved like a bullet in order to get there on time.
In school, we had little joys of life. It was a big deal if you didn’t have a shilling or 50 cents to spend during break time to buy kashata, mabuyu, viazi tumbukiza (these were particularly good, you’d form a hole in the middle, put a good amount of pili pili, and throw it in your mouth).
How was your high school experience?
I went to Kangundo High School. Former president, the late Daniel Moi once joined us in a Sunday service. Afterwards, he told us that he had left half a million with the principal to be spent as we wished. Guess what we asked for? Loaf (deep laughter). So we had several of them for a number of days.
Visiting days were moments we looked forward to but nobody wanted to be visited by only dad because he’d come with a newspaper and money when what we were dying for was something to put in the mouth. But the mums – they would come with chicken, chapati, rice… food, as you can see, was a big deal to us.
We had many possibilities to engage in sports but we looked at it as punishment, as the last thing we wanted to do. You’d rather come with a letter from the doctor saying my chest is this, my foot is… I played rugby for a day and said never again after I got one of these charges that left me wondering if my collar bone was still intact. Yet look at us now. We pay to access gyms. But from the cross country running, I’ve kept the habit of jogging.
How often do you run?
Would you like the ideal or the real stuff? I schedule a run on alternate days. If the week is tight, I will make sure not to miss at least one run.
I enjoy the outdoors. I have summited Mt. Kilimanjaro four times but interestingly I have not been to Mt. Kenya. Every time there’s an expedition, something comes up. It’s on my bucket list this year.
How is Arsenal doing?
The last I checked they are doing better than Man U (hearty laugh). My all-time favourite player is Thierry Henry.
How has the journey been for the US office during the pandemic period?
We run a collegial system so no one walks alone. You exchange, shape and polish ideas with others especially when making critical decisions on which many people depend. The pandemic period was tough because of the uncertainty surrounding it. It was a real VUCA experience. Our stakeholders looked up to Management for answers: Do we have systems in place to allow continuity? How do we support our employees and students to cope with this kind of situation? What about their mental wellness? Do we have the financial resources to sustain the University? Are our models sustainable? What’s the future likely to look like? Can you still deliver the Strathmore promise?
These were not light questions to deal with. But with the support, care and collaboration of the University Council, all staff, students, parents and partners, in spite of the unprecedented challenges (many of which were not peculiar to SU alone) we pulled through and actually thrived in the process. What we have gone through has strengthened us and pushed us to steadily harness the opportunities brought about by the new normal.
You recently hopped on to an exciting new stage in life. What lessons would you have for those in their 30’s?
Relax and enjoy the ride. Life depends on how you look at it: you can make it complex or you can enjoy it and be thankful for health, family, work…
Does life begin at 40?
I am not too experienced yet with the 4G network – all I know is that there is much more fresh air on this floor.
This article was written by Wambui Gachari.
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