Voi Rotarians led by immediate past Club President Ashok Anand, yesterday attended the burial in Mbololo’s Tausa village of Mzee Andrew Safari Mwalimo who passed away at Voi hospital on Saturday March 8. He was 88.

Mzee Mwalimo, who is the father of current Voi Rotary Club President Hope Kijala Mwangola, was a long-serving Railway locomotive driver. He retired early at 55 from the Kenya Railways Corporation in 1981, having served the Corporation for over 30 years. He is survived by his children Ann Mkang’ombe Mwalimo -who vied unsuccessfully for Voi Parliamentary seat in 2007 and 2013, Rotarian Hope Kijala Mwangola , electrical Eng. Gilbert Mwalimo, Jackson Mwakangalu Mwalimo and Isabella Wakesho Mwalimo. His wife, Alice Mbori Mwalimo had passed away earlier, in 2006.

Described as a kind, humorous and aggressive environmentalist who shunned alcohol, Mzee Mwalimo’s green thumb was evident everywhere in his expansive compound lined with leafy mango and other fruit trees whose canopies provided good shade to the mourning villagers. “ He loved story-telling even when on his death-bed”, says daughter Hope Kijala Mwangola who nursed her father unto his dying day.

Other mourners and well wishers included Taita Taveta Governor, Eng. John Mtuta Mruttu, Mrs Joyce Mlolwa-the wife of Voi Member of Parliament, Hon Jones Mlolwa, and Naphtali Ngety who is the area Chief.

Although none of the speakers at the ceremony mentioned or acknowledged the fact, the name “Tausa” has previously been claimed by the Wasagalla who congregated around Sagalla Wray Church (now Wray Museum, Sagalla) in the days of the late Reverend J. Alfred Wray, as deriving from their Sagalla dialect, which means “Twausa” (capture/take over). Other established Mbololo names associated with the WaSagalla include “Kulele” (far) and “Mwambole mbole” (mbole mbole= “slow-ly”). Probably, an Agricultural extension officer from Sagalla employed by the Colonial Government in the 40s had been stationed at Tausa to educate the residents of arid Mbololo ‘ngila ya kuanda miti” (how to plant tress) may also have propagated and spread the word hence the Tausa name, besides other crusading religious claimants and missionaries, on mission from Reverend Wray’s 130 year-old pioneer Church.

Voi Rotarians mourned the club’s immediate past President, IPP, Ashok Anand’s mother Vrajkuvar Anand who passed away last year on July 18. She was cremated in Voi.

Rotarians the world over, espouse the ideal of service to humanity, whose motto is “Service above Self”.

Mzee Andrew Safari Mwalimo initially attended Ndile Primary School before proceeding to Kighombo Intermediate School, where he sat for his KAPE examination. Thereafter, he trained as a teacher and taught in Ndile Primary School, where he served as its Head master. Subsequently, he joined the Railways Corporation where he trained as a locomotive engine driver.

Mzee Mwalimo is well remembered by his former colleagues in the giant East African Railways and Harbors Corporation, including Mzee Harris Mwasawau Mwandigha from Kasigau, who retired also from the Kenya Railways as an Instructor in 1996, after a 36-year tenure. The EAR & H Corporation, as it was commonly known, operated during the Colonial period and after Kenya’s independence but was, subsequently, converted to the Engineer Gakuo-led Kenya Railways Corporation, upon the beak-up of the East African Community.

Mzee Mwasawau vividly recalls meeting regularly with the late Mzee Andrew Safari Mwalimo during

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the latter’s shuttles between Nairobi and Mombasa through Makindu Sub-Station in the early 70s. Mzee Mwasawau was then engaged at Makindu Railway Sub-Station as a Supervisor. Previously, Mzee Mwasawau had worked for several years in the field as a Permanent Way Supervisor, whose duties included constructing and maintaining the railway lines. He further recalls that whenever he travelled on leave or for short breaks, he would sit with Mzee Andrew Safari Mwalimo in the locomotive engine Room, which would thereby provide a useful opportunity to detect any Railway line faults, as opposed to using a push trolley only, for the same purpose. Whenever the railway slippers, for instance, were not well packed, he could feel it from beneath the heavy-pressing 130-ton engine.

Says Mzee Mwasawau, “In those days, there were steam locomotives which used crude oil to boil the water to power its engines. Previously however, only firewood was used to boil the water. The waters from Kighombo Dam, which was the main reason for its construction by the EAR & H in the early 40s, were then used to power the locomotive engines. The Dam’s waters were piped all the way from Kighombo up to Samburu, past Mackinon Road and served the Samburu, Mackinon Road, Maungu, Voi and Tsavo River Railway Sub-Stations. The fireman accompanying the locomotive driver would inject more firewood into the engine room, while the driver operated the engines. During the time of diesel engines, only the engine driver would remain in the engine room. The diesel engines were introduced in the early 70s”

By the time Retired Railway man Elkanah Mwawaza joined the EAR & H in 1970, Mzee Mwalimo was already a steam locomotive driver. Initially engaged as a cleaner based in Voi Station, Mr Mwawaza subsequently rose through the Mechanical Engineering Department to become a light-up, who would prepare and warm up the locomotive engines in readiness to be driven. Thereafter, he became a fireman who prepared the steam engines for the drivers to move the locomotives. Eventually, he himself trained for and became a locomotive engine driver in 1998. He retired in 2008. “I believe that Mzee Mwalimo too underwent a similar induction process prior to becoming a senior locomotive driver”, adds Mr. Mwawaza.

Sounding nostalgic, both Wazee Harris Mwasawau Mwandigha and Elkanah Mwawaza are unanimous that the Railways era of the late Mzee Aggrey Mwalimo was characterized by high mechanical, managerial and culinary standards which appear to be no more.

Associated with the Colonial era of the un-schooled, traditional but, hard-working Mbololo business moguls like Ikonge Mwamgunda, Rophus Mwabaki, Mwanjala Mwainda, Abel Mchana, and Joseph Mwanyungu, whose progeny, ironically, seem not to have inherited their courage, drive and business acumen, Mzee Aggrey Mwalimo however, stands heads and shoulders above his contemporaries for he, having acquired cosmopolitan tendencies and trappings, was reputed to have owned the building in Mombasa’s Buxton area housing the famous Kariba Bar.

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May his soul rest in eternal peace.


In-coming Secretary, Rotary Club of Voi,

Voi City, Sunday, March 16, 2014

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