During the December 12, 2021 national celebrations to mark the country’s 58 years since attaining the status of a republic, His Excellency, President Uhuru Kenyatta awarded several Kenyans in recognition of their contributions to the country in their various capacities.
Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) was one of the institutions whose three members of staff were awarded the national honours by the President for their distinguished services.
The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi was awarded the Elder of the Burning Spear (EBS).
Prof. Wambui Ngumi, a Professor of Botany, who is a beneficiary of the prestigious Fulbright scholarship that took her to Clemson University, South Carolina, USA, earning her a PhD degree in plant physiology in 1997, could not hide her joy and gratitude to what she termed a pleasant surprise.
“I appreciate the special and great honour bestowed on me by the Head of State for this rare recognition and award. I feel very humbled and honoured as a Kenyan, the Vice Chancellor said.
Several years back, Prof. Wambui Ngumi won a Japan-based Mombusho scholarship that enabled her to pursue a Master of Science degree in Botany at Hiroshima University, where she graduated in 1989.
Prof. Wambui Ngumi has attracted multiple research funds and holds extensive knowledge on teaching and research in the area of plant physiology, having published dozens of articles in peer reviewed, high impact journals.
As an academic and administrator, Prof. Wambui Ngumi pays close attention to plant tissue culture and conservation botany; all of which she believes, are critical to conservation of ecosystems and environment.
With the advent of climate change, these issues have gained more currency in her work evident through her constant championing of climate change issues and has been encouraging university staff and students “to focus their intellectual energy on research based solutions to address the challenges of climate change.”
While presenting the beneficiaries for the award, the Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua, said, the individuals had shown exemplary service to the country and in their professions.
Two other JKUAT dons; Dr. Reuben Wangari Thuo, Dean, School of Medicine in the College of Health Sciences (COHES) and Dr. Walter Bichanga Okibo, a Senior Lecturer in Strategic Management in the School of Business and Entrepreneurship (currently on leave of absence), were both awarded the Moran of the Order of the Burning Spear (MBS).
According to the Kenya Gazette Notice No. 13598 of December 17, 2021, the awards were in recognition of distinguished and outstanding services rendered to the nation in various capacities and responsibilities.
Professionals drawn across various disciplines including the medical fields, disciplined forces, academia and the sports industry, among others were honoured.