BRUCE BYRON ONDURU (AKACH)
FOUNDER AND CEO, DULO ATTIRES
SECRETARY GENERAL 2019/20- JKUSA
STUDENT ASSOCIATION OF JKUAT
STUDENT OF PHARMACY, JOMO KENYATTA UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
CAPTAIN, ALLIANCE HIGH SCHOOL, 2015
It is on a chilly Sunday afternoon, I am seated cross legged at Java House along Kimathi Street sipping my cappuccino scurro setting my eyes on different couples enjoying the afternoon redifining their vows. I look at my clock, it is already a few minutes to 3 pm and my interview with Bruce Byron is about to begin. I pick my black loose leaf notebook to quickly peruse the questions before the big man gets in. A few minutes later,the man of the moment himself gets to the table ready for the interview. He is looking sharp and well fitted. A god damned bow tie punctuated his neck, a blue tailored suit that screamed “Please take me to a wedding” did not escape my attention. This expensive look was accompanied with a golden watch on his wrist. His signature clean shaven head was conspicuous. This was a lad ready for the assignment. After a few orders, we sat down at the quiet corner for the interview whilst enjoying the serenity that Java offers. Uh, men of class we are. Straight away I pull my notebook and we go one on one into the interview . (PS; The questions are in bold while the answers appear in a normal font. Enjoy the interview. There we go.
I KNOW YOU TO BE A JACK OF ALL TRADES, AND YOU HAVE REMAINED A MASTER OF ALL OF THEM. FROM STUDENT LEADERSHIP, THROUGH BUILDING OF A BUSINESS EMPIRE TO ALWAYS TOPPING YOUR CLASS. HOW DO YOU MANAGE ALL THIS?
I would attribute my unique balancing to discipline and consistency. Apart from that, I have mastered the art of delegation of duties so that I only do whatever I can and delegate the rest. I largely credit my personality especially in leadership. I have always been passionate about it and I find nothing difficult with it. Having grown up in an Adventist family and mercies of God having showered me all through my life, I find my religious duties non negotiable. Therefore, it is the amalgamation of all those practices that have enabled me to remain at the top of my game.
CAN YOU GIVE US A BRIEF INTRODUCTION ABOUT YOURSELF AND A SHORT STORY OF THE VOYAGE OF YOUR LIFE?
I was born in 1998 in a place called Rakwaro in Migori County. I spent the early years of my life in different places like Awendo, Rongo, Oyugis, Nyakach and finally my family settled in a village called Bondo Nyironge in Suna West, Migori County. I started my primary school education at Bondo Nyironge Primary School, later enrolled at Hills Combined Academy and went back to Bondo Nyironge from where I sat my KCPE in 2011 scoring 396 marks out of the possible 500. I was then admitted to Alliance High School in 2012 with the Equity Wings To Fly Scholarship. I excelled in my school work and participated in a lot of other activities. The cake was iced when I was voted as the Dining Hall Captain enabling me to be a member of the prestigious Pentagon and the third most powerful prefect at Bush. I sat my KCSE in 2015 scoring a perfect A of 84 points. I was later admitted at JKUAT Juja to study a five year course in Pharmacy. At JKUAT, I was able to clinch the position of Secretary General of the student association -JKUSA in my second year 2019/20. I am still undergoing my course after a delay due to lecturers strike earlier on. I am also the founder of Dulo Enterprises. I am devoted member of The Adventist Church, I am very political and ODM is my preferred political party in Kenya. Not forgetting to state that I am an ardent supporter of Chelsea FC.
EVERY OTHER PERSON WHO GOES THROUGH ALLIANCE HIGH SCHOOL USUALLY HAS A MIXTURE OF THREE ROLLER COASTER MEMORIES; THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY. IN THAT ORDER, WHAT ARE YOUR MEMORIES OF BUSH?
To start with the good, It is a fact known that Alliance High School only admits the best of the best, so when we joined form 1, we were ranked according to our KCPE marks, and I ranked 206 out of the 350 meaning that with my KCPE Marks, I was among the lowest in my class and that scared me badly. However,I wanted to make my mum proud so I decided that I would work extremely hard and make it. Believe you me, at the end of term 1 in form 1, when we sat the End Term exams, I topped my class. This remains my fondest memory at Alliance.
At Alliance, we used to have the Brooks and Governor’s Academy Exchange Programs. This involved selected Busherian students going to The US for two months. The selection was always done in Form 2. Having been at the top of my class, my classmates preferred me to attend this program. Such programs had been a preserve for the richkids, and there I was, just another boy from the village. I felt like it was not for me, but after encouragements, I decided to give it a try. Unexpectedly, I was chosen. Representing Alliance High School in Boston Massachusetts in the exchange program remains one of my greatest memories. I sincerely thank Alliance High School for that opportunity for it completely changed my view about the world.
After that, I become a prefect, rising to become the Dining Hall Captain and being a member of the exclusive and most powerful club of the big five prefects at Alliance High School called The Pentagon.
I also formed good memories at the SDA Society. At Form 4 I was the Chairman. I remember not attending the socials (a get together between the students of Alliance High School and Alliance Girls every end term) because they happened on Saturdays when I was in church, however being in SDA, I still interacted with the girls from Across (Alliance Girls as we used to refer to them)during the Joint Sabbaths. And finally, the morning devotions and singing hymns at the chapel with the organ playing in the background especially during the times of Leroy Omolo as the Organist were very phenominal. To date, He arose remains my favourite hymn.
Now to the Bad Memories; I joined Form 1 a week late. My experience was quit traumatizing and horrible. The prefects and House Committee were not friendly at all. I remember that I was so scared and traumatized that I almost ran away from school.
Students at Alliance are generally smart. This at times made teachers to be a bit complacent and not giving out thorough content with the assumption that since most students are intelligent, they will automatically understand.
There was a way that Alliance High School didn’t give space for free speech and expression. Anytime you would say or do something contrary to the norm, however right you were, you were to get punished. Speaking my mind landed me in trouble severally. I remember being denied a rubble (Form 1 to take care of) because I was considered a crook as I criticized what I felt wasn’t right. In Form 2, I did everything possible to become the Grieve House Chairman only to be thrown under the bus in the last minutes. I was given the least post in the House Comm, a position I rejected flat foot because I knew that I had deserved to be the Chairman. The outgoing Chairman simply denied me the position because he did not like me for speaking my mind. Even after rejecting the bread crumbs position because I sincerely deserved better, the then House Master Mr. Gichuhi (GichBoy) promised to write me a bad report for my actions.
To the ugly ; The prefecture body at Alliance High School wielded so much power that ended up being misused extremely. A lot of students were injured because of the bullying from the prefects. Yes, I was a prefect and a member of The Pentagon, but this is something that I admit. I am not proud at all having been part of such excesses at times . I feel like this was the ugliest part of my memories at Bush.
HOW WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE LIKE DURING YOUR EXCHANGE PROGRAM IN THE UNITED STATES?
We spent close to two months in the US in the summer of 2014 at Brooks School in Massachusetts. It was a phenominal experience for me and I got to see the world completely different perspective.I saw students who study out of passion and not just to pass exams. I went to places that I never thought I would ever set foot on. Visits to The White House, The Congress, The Library of Congress (largest Library in the world), Harvard University, Harvard Square, MIT, Streets of Boston. The exposure was top notch. It made me believe in myself more, I remember hacking math without calculators. Meeting people from all over the world. I created lifelong memories.
HOW WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A MEMBER OF THE DREADED PENTAGON AND THE THIRD MOST POWERFUL COP AT ALLIANCE HIGH SCHOOL?
Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa once said that in as much as he has served as an MP and occupied other offices, The Alliance High School prefect body remains the most powerful government he has served in. I concur with him that there is no any other government in the world that runs systems so efficiently as that of The Alliance High School prefect body. I learnt so much while serving there. The inductions, late nights, working under pressure and accountability are all great experiences I got as a prefect. Having to be the Dining Hall Captain of 1600 students taught me managerial skills. It would also be prudent to say that having so much power at such a young age can lead to misusing it. I learnt that whenever you are entrusted with power, there is no need to get into the excesses but just carry your duties diligently. Honestly the power was nice. And again, being the member of Pentagon, we were only answerable to the School Principal and we were above everyone else in the school. We often slipped. I enjoyed the freedom and the responsibilities. I regret the few times I had to use excess force.
(PS: The Pentagon constituted the top five prefects at Alliance High School based on hierarchy. They included the School Captain( Governor General), Deputy School Captain (President), Dinning Hall Captain (The Captain), Entertainment Captain (Chief) and Games Captain (Guru) respectively.)
ALLIANCE HIGH SCHOOL IS KNOWN TO CREATE TIES THAT BIND. WHAT IS THE STRONGEST FRIENDSHIP YOU MADE AT ALLIANCE?
Collins Wanjau remains the greatest friend that I made at Bush. We represented Alliance High School together at Brooks School Exchange Program, and we later on served together at The Pentagon with him as the School Captain (Governor General ) and myself as the Dinning Hall Captain (The Captain). I won’t forget to mention my high school best friend, the late Isaac Matunga who died at the brink of graduating as a pilot from Kenya Airforce.
HOW HAS YOUR CAMPUS EXPERIENCE BEEN SO FAR?
After high school, I got admitted to study Pharmacy at JKUAT Juja. From a very early age, I had desired to pursue this particular course. So it is not like I found myself in Pharmacy by accident but by design. My interests to pursue this course were greatly influenced by an occurrence that happened when I was only four. My mum was operating a chemist shop in Oyugis town. She did not have the licenses and on this particular day she was arrested by the inspectors. I felt so bad, and from that day, I put on a determination that one day , I had to study that particular line of business and acquire the papers and licenses that my mum could not acquire at that time. After school, I plan to build a major pharmacy and have my mum own it. I think that will be the greatest payback of that particular incident. Back to JKUAT, so I find myself in an extremely rigorous course that demands complete attention. At my first year, I was elected the Class rep, a little later, I was elected a Delegate for my school. In the same same year, I was elected to JKUAT Pharmacy Students Association. In my first Year , Third Trimester, I was elected the School of Pharmacy Representative.With all this success plus the experience I received in Bush, I decided to vie as the Secretary General of the Students Association Executive Council in my Second Year. Of course I won and became the Secretary General of JKUSA 2019/20. During my tenure, I led a demonstration in November 2019 over insecurity reasons around the school. During the unrest, together with other council members, I stormed The Vigilance House (Police Headquarters) and demanded an audience with the Inspector General of Police.We aired our grievances and today I walk tall and proud that after pushing the agenda ,The Ministry of Energy and Kiambu County Government installed security lights at the danger zones which were traditionally dark like Gate B and Karangasa. All these has helped in beefing up security. I decided to vie for SG because that is the office that acts as the mouthpiece of the union and I have always been a voice where other people cower. I was also driven by the urge of not being a push over because the SG is an official signatory to the union accounts and a manager to all assets of the union. A lot of people ask why I vied so early in my campus life. So well, Pharmacy is an extremely demanding course. The first two years are called pre clinical years that do not require much dedication and that is the reason why I got myself into the school politics very early. Of course now I have hanged my boots from school politics to concentrate in my clinical years which are extremely demanding. Back to my Pharmacy studies, I am looking forward to specializing in Oncology Pharmacy.
WITH ALL YOUR ACADEMIC SUCCESS, WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO STUDY LOCALLY INSTEAD OF LOOKING FOR BETTER OPPORTUNITIES ABROAD?
When I finished high school, I successfully applied to KenSAP (an abroad college prep organization in Kenya.). However, twelve Alliance High School students were selected to join the program and therefore there was a need to give student from other schools a chance as well, and to create space for students from other schools, some Alliance High School students had to be trimmed out. Remember all the twelve of us had perfect As. I was among those sifted out. On that very day, I got my admission letter to join JKUAT and study what I had applied to. I felt like it was a big win enough and found contentment in it. I am happy with where I am at the moment.
FUTURE POLITICAL AMBITIONS?
Yes. In fact I was to throw myself into the murky waters of elective politics next year at the age of 24, with my interests being in the County Assembly of Migori. However due to the lecturers strike, my studies were delayed meaning that I will still be in campus during the General Elections. That notwithstanding, I plan to venture into both elective and appointive politics. I have set my eyes into becoming a County Governor and also working at the top level of Ministry of Health, creating policies to revamp our limping health sector.
TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS EMPIRE
I founded Dulo Attires in 2017. Dulo is my mum’s nickname. From a very early age, I loved being sharp and tidy. After high school, I realized that I loved suits. Therefore I turned my passion into a business idea. My shop is located along Ngong Road.We also do delivery on order. I deal in custom made and imported suits for both ladies and men.(To confirm that, you can look at my introduction picture above, that is my own custom made suit). I also deal in other attires as well such as the ruracio attires and executive attires. You can contact us through our social media handles @ Dulo attires or reach us on phone +254725964014. Dulo attires is a subsidiary of Dulo Enterprises Limited which is a registered company. It deals in supplies and tenders. I attribute my business success to my strong belief in God. I also don’t spare pain to achieve my desired heights. I believe that no pain no gain. I also believe that things take time and everything requires consistency. Finally, I subscribe to FCR philosophy, to mean Focus, Consistency and Resilience.
WHAT CHARACTERIZES YOUR FREE TIME?
I am a great storyteller. I also spend most of the time debating about ideologies and topics such as politics and feminism. I also love reading, my current read being 5am Club. Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama remains my favorite read. It is not like I have a lot of free time anyway( laughs)
Magira, a mixture of njugu and milk is my favorite traditional cuisine. My modern favorite dish is chicken tikka. A great delicacy it is.
Disappointing my mother.
And I also hate failure with passion. I fear failure so much. It is not like I have never failed, but I try my best to avoid it.
Greece. I’d love to go see the debate chambers of the early philosophers like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Apollos and many more. I am extremely attracted to Greek culture.
FINAL WORDS TO OTHER YOUNG PEOPLE?
Life is to be lived. You cannot be said to have lived without serving your purpose. I draw my inspiration from a line in the 5am Club which says ‘Whenever you put in small efforts, nature replies by multiplying your will power”. Barack Obama in Dreams From My Father writes that Confidence is the secret to a man’s success. I also urge all young people to remember where they come from, and become comfortable within themselves without seeking validation or approval from other people. Personally, I found myself complete without seeking drugs or anyone to complete me. Keeping off peer pressure is a big win. And let us all have a purpose in life. Finally, let us live organized lives and remain accountable to ourselves.
Thank you so much Lincoln for choosing me in your inaugural interview and I wish you all the best in your newly launched Linctanc Magazine. It is a great honor to be part of your journey.
THE END OF THE INTERVIEW. THANKS FOR READING . TILL NEXT WEEK. (PS; Byron Onduru and I come from the same village, and attended the same high school…haha, my one minute of fame is out)