It was on the tiny Starehe site that two huts were erected in July 1959 to serve as dormitories for the first waifs to be brought in from the streets.Kenya was passing through a difficult time - although independence was looming ahead, the City was still clamped under the Mau Mau Emergency Regulations and it was amid suspicion and even hostility from some of the authorities the local people and the first boys themselves that the centre was officially opened on the 14th November, 1959
Primary education and simple trade training began at once but it was four years before Starehe was able to attain legal recognition as a school and was permitted to enter its pupils for recognized examinations. Meanwhile the quest for international support had begun in earnest and Starehe's first backers were soon joined by many others. The Save the Children Fund of Britain became Starehe's largest overseas supporter and was instrumental in interesting its counterparts in other countries. Starting with the Dulverton Trust and Oxfam, various trusts, foundations, charitable bodies and the technical assistance, volunteer agencies helped to build up the teaching staff, and a growing number of private individuals, schools and societies contributed to the running costs of the Centre by 'sponsoring' particular boys
Many prominent Kenyans came to take a personal interest in Starehe to take a personal interest in Starehe and the Ministry of Education has given increasing encouragement and support. As time went on, the Centre became national by opening its doors to the rural, as well as the urban, poor. It was realized that disadvantaged boys should not be raised in isolation from the rest of the society, but should live and learn, work and play with the sons of normal families, so it was decided that fee-paying pupils could occupy one third of the places while the other two thirds remain free and are strictly reserved for the poor and helpless. The number of boys in Starehe's charge now stands at nearly eleven hundred.
THE SCHOOL MOTTO
Starehe's motto "Natulenge Juu" (Let Us Aim High), bestowed by Kenya's First President, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, reflects the spirit that permeates the Centre. The founder set out, not merely to provide food, clothing and protection to boys in need, but to restore in them the self-confidence and self-respect so often injured by earlier misfortunes in lives, and finally, to provide them with sound enough-to serve them well in today's competitive world. Step by step across the years, Starehe has built itself an international reputation and has been honoured by visits from many famous persons. Among them have been Kenya's own Presidents, the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and Mr. Daniel Arap Moi; and His Excellency the Hon. Mwai Kibaki. HRH the Princess Royal (who spent four days at Starehe), the late Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands (when Crown Princess), the late Senator Robert Kennedy of the United States, T.R.H. Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex, HRH the Duke of Gloucester and notable sportsmen such as Pele and Muhammed Ali.
One of Starehe's School Songs (Forty Years On) is based on Harrow School's main School Song.
1 These are the years when we are helped and guided Taught by Starehe to know and judge and do; Prepared for the future, encouraged and provided, Strengthened to serve: Natulenge Juu!
2 Brought to the school to join a thousand others All with one purpose, quick and keen and true; Boldy we follow in the footsteps of our brothers, Proudly we wear our dress of red and blue.
3 Honour the School, a way of life which fires us, Lifts up our spirits, sets us all ablaze, Teaches and trains, rebukes and inspires us, Planting the seed to serve us all our days.
4 We pledge ourselves, when this our generation Must in its turn the weight of government bear, To all mankind, through service to our nation, Head, heart and hand in justice, zeal and care.
5 These are the years when we are helped and guided Taught by Starehe to know and judge and do; Prepared for the future, encouraged and provided, Strengthened to serve: Natulenge Juu!
Starehe's boarding houses are named after its major supporters throughout the year as well as notable individuals in Kenyan history associated with the school.
There are 12 boarding houses into which new students are placed each year, namely
- Gikubu House - named after the co-founder Joseph Gikubu
- Ngala House - named after the late Ronald Ngala, a cabinet minister in the Jomo Kenyatta government
- Geturo House - named after the co-founder Geoffrey Gatama Geturo
- Shaw House - named after the late Patrick David Shaw, a burly and intimidating senior police officer who rid Nairobi of a collection of thieves and thugs. He was an assistant director in charge of administration at Starehe at the time of his demise
- Horsten House - named after a late Danish Ambassador and benefactor of the School
- Mboya House - named after the late Thomas Joseph Mboya a patron of the School and a powerful cabinet minister in the Jomo Kenyatta government
- Shell House - named after the main supporter of the Centre since its inception, the Shell-BP petroleum company
- Chaka House - named after Shaka Zulu, the famous Zulu king and warrior.
- Njonjo House - named after former powerful Attorney-General and Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister in the Jomo Kenyatta andDaniel Toroitich arap Moi governments, Charles Njonjo.
- Kirkley House - named after a friend of the Centre, Sir Lesley Kirkley
- Muriuki House - named after one of the longest serving members of the School's Board of Directors, Nick Muriuki Mugwandia
- Kibaki House - named after the Patron of the School since 1969 and third president of the Republic of Kenya H.E. Mwai Kibaki
Every morning to usher in the start of the School Day, every evening to close the school day. and every time the band requires assembly of its troops, the respective Bugle is sounded by a contingent of the band's finest buglers, who enjoy certain privileges due to their elite status. Examples of the privileges include walking on the Starehe highways and being excused from parade.
Starehe Boys' Centre has a long and distinguished musical tradition. This has been evident in the many victories in the Kenya Music Festival held annually in the country. Success has been on both individual and School levels.
The school's chapel seats 1,000 and has a large organ, one of two organs in the School (the other being in the Assembly Hall). The School Choir has made many achievements and has thereby earned an excellent reputation. Throughout the school's history, many musically gifted pupils have excelled in private competitions and exams and made their mark in the musical society of Kenya. Some of them are members of the Nairobi Orchestra.
The school has many other smaller choirs and instrumental ensembles, along with the celebrated annual House Singing Competition called the "Interhouse Music Gala", held on the last night of the first school term. The Music Department organises these concerts every year, providing an excellent performance opportunity for budding soloists and other musicians.
Starehe Boys' Centre Marching Band
The band is nationally famous, with international accolades, having played for numerous institutions and performed at national celebrations. The band led the procession at Dr Griffin's burial ceremony in 2005.
A Journey of Faith - Speech by Dr. Griffin