By the time he was in primary school, Njoroge Macharia knew that he wanted to be a music professor when he grew up. At that time his understanding of the word professor was very simplistic but over the years, this is a dream he has been able to nurture through school at Joytown Special School for the physically challenged in Thika, and then at the M-Pesa Foundation Academy.
Joining the academy was a dream come true for Njoroge who had always wanted to join a high school that taught music. There could be no better place to kick his music studies into higher gear and actualize his passion than at the academy which has a dedicated music department and specific modules and programs. Here, he found a great support system of experienced teachers and an environment that is generally very conducive for learning.
He has since completed high school at the academy, scored a B+, and is now at the University of Nottingham in the UK where he is pursuing a diploma in singing. This is a broad course that entails composition, conducting, music philosophy and scientific analysis of music. He is also doing a lot of music related research and music in more academic disciplines like politics and culture.
The young man already has quite a bit of achievements under his belt, one of them being his sterling education journey, joining a top university in the UK, and being awarded the top musical student there. He is also quite versatile in music and has exposure to performance both as a solo and choral singer, classical pianist and Ohangla drummer. Just before coming to Kenya on a break, he had auditioned for assistant conductor for the university choir and he got the part. He is excited to embark on this when he gets back to university in the UK where he will be working with the choir director.
Njoroge terms M-Pesa Foundation Academy as the single most important platform in his life in terms of elevating his dreams and actualizing them faster than he thought he would. With his impressive B+ in KCSE, he was given an opportunity to choose a higher learning institution anywhere in the world in which to further his music education. It is with the guidance and mentorship from his teachers and the Uongozi Center team that he settled on University of Nottingham.
Njoroge met the person who would change the course of his life by chance back in Nakuru in 2011. Ms. Mumbi, a teacher at Joytown Special School for the Physically challenged in Thika was visiting relatives when she noticed the young boy in church balancing a keyboard on his wheelchair. She took an interest in his case and mentioned her school, then later organized an interview which he took and passed. Joining a boarding school meant that the huge mobility challenge that was school commute back home was a thing of the past and this was a major boost for his studies. He poured all his energy into books and performed very well, scoring 387 marks. It was the same Ms. Mumbi who gave him application forms for M-Pesa Foundation Academy and encouraged him to fill them.
Njoroge has had to deal with mobility challenges all his life and now walks with the help of a prosthetic leg and a crutch. He was born with a congenital disorder that saw him in and out of hospital since he was a baby, before amputation of his left leg was recommended as a long-term solution and performed in 2011 at Kijabe Hospital. It was while he was healing from the amputation that he volunteered to learn and play keyboard in his village church and this is where he caught Ms. Mumbi’s eye.
As he watches his star rise, he remains very grateful to his mum – a strong believer in education and one who has always offered unwavering support without trying to dictate the direction of his dreams. She is the anchor in his life, having raised him and his siblings alone after the death of their father 13 years ago. He is the sixth born in a family of seven. He is also grateful to Joytown School who took him in at a time when he was dealing with the discouragement of losing a limb. He gives special thanks to the M-Pesa Foundation Academy and especially the former CEO Mr. Les Baillie who always took a keen interest on individual students and their dreams.
Apart from his physical disability, one of his major challenges is discouragement from people who feel that being a high performing student academically, music is beneath him. He overcomes this easily by believing in himself and aligning to people who understand just how far his passion for music can take him.
He has not wasted a minute before giving back to the communities that nurtured him. He has already started community music projects and supporting existing ones in Nakuru, and his next plan is to go back to Joytown as a volunteer music teacher for the school choir when he’s back from the UK. In future, he wishes to transform the Kenyan music education from a policy level, to make it deeper and more intellectual. He is in a position to grow to that level and he intends to.