Monday, September 10, 2018


Carey Francis (Photo: KResearcher)
‘When I asked mum a hard question she would tell me carrey francis didnt teach her.’
- Kenyan Inspired (@ygacibi12) replying to @KResearcher on Twitter

He was the inspiration for Kenya’s most expensive poem, ‘The Mathematics of Carey Francis’ ( Amongst colonial-era Kenyan settlers, this enigmatic educators’ statuture is so great, it is matched only by the likes of Lord Hugh Delamare, Karen Blixen, Lord & Lady Baden-Powell, and Blessed Irene Stefani. But who was Carey Francis when he was at home? Like a bat trying to determine the size, speed and solidity of an object by bouncing multiple sonar signals off the target and analyzing the feedback, let as examine information from various sources and see if it paints a sufficient picture of our person of interest…

‘Carey Francis was born at Hampstead on September 13th, 1897, and died at Nairobi on July 27th, 1966. He was educated at William Ellis School, Hampstead, where he showed extraordinary promise both at work and at games; he was Head of the school, and the captain of football, cricket, tennis, and athletics. He served in the First World War, holding a commission in the H.A.C., and being mentioned in dispatches. He came through the war unscathed and after the war, he picked up the scholarship to which he had already been elected at Trinity College, Cambridge…

His mathematical interests were mainly in the area of analysis, and he was much influenced by three Trinity mathematicians, Hardy, Littlewood and Pollard. In 1923, he was awarded a Rayleigh Prize for a substantial essay on the Denjoy-Stieltjes Integral, and two papers, “On differentiation with respect to a function: and on “The Lebesque-Stieltjes Integral” appeared in the Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society in November 1925…He was a brilliant and immensely popular lecturer…He also served as Secretary of the Faculty Board of Mathematics…

His heart had always been in the Mission field, and his friends were not surprised when, in 1928, he left Cambridge and went to Kenya as a lay teaching missionary under the church Missionary Society. He first taught at Maseno, in Nyanza, and it was there that his pupils gave him the name of “Achuma” – the man of steel. But Maseno was only the training-ground for his real-life work, which was the Headmastership of the Alliance High School in Nairobi. This position he held from 1940 to 1962. It was here that his most important work for African education was done…Under his guidance, the school attained an almost mystical prestige, and to be a pupil of Carey Francis at Alliance was a highly valued and much-coveted distinction. More than half of the members of Kenya’s present cabinet are old boys of his school.’ – ‘Edward Carey Francis’ (essay) by L. A. Pars, Journal of the London Mathematical Society (1968)

‘His (Prof David Wasawo’s) brilliance was best summarised by Edward Carey Francis, the legendary headmaster who taught him at the Alliance High School in an interview carried in the Sunday Nation in 1965. When Carey Francis was asked who he thought was the most brilliant student he had ever taught, the man who shaped some of Kenya’s brightest minds at Alliance was prompt in his response: “Far and away, David Wasawo”.’ - 'Brilliant Scholar Who Lectured Into His Golden Years', Business Daily 

‘Nonetheless, Edward Carey Francis, the sixth principal (1928-1940) is the man most popularly associated with Maseno School. He was born on September 13, 1897 at Hampstead where he was also educated showing great promise as an all round student at an early age. His education was interrupted by World War 1 in which he also served with distinction.

Carey Francis proceeded to Cambridge University in 1919 where his academic, sports and leadership qualities blossomed. He was particularly gifted in the realm of mathematics, especially in its more abstract form, winning many awards at Cambridge for outstanding performance and originality. Joining the academic staff at Cambridge between 1922 and 1928, he was a brilliant and immensely popular lecturer, serving as a fellow of Peterhouse and director of studies in mathematics.’ – ‘Maseno School: The Giant That Started Beneath GumTrees' (article) by Douglas Kiereini 

‘His work was to mould obedient servants of the colonial system, not to create elites.’ – From the book, ‘The Kenyatta Cabinets: Drama, Intrigue, Triumph’ (2012)

'Edward Carey Francis left a glowing career at Cambridge to teach in a junior secondary school in Kenya. He wowed many with his numerical skills, but his temper and poor opinion of Africans were also legendary...The myriad theories aside, Edward Carey Francis’ move came at a time when he had the world in the palm of his hand. Ironically, Carey Francis’ molding of young Kenyans to serve her majesty’s government unwitting sharpened the minds that would later overturn British rule in Kenya. The echoes of his actions are still felt, half a century after his demise on July 27, 1966, at the age of 69.' - 'Math Guru,Magician And Man Of Steel' (article) by Amos Kareithi

'Whenever Carey Francis name is mentioned many remember two things; Mathematics and Alliance High School...No educator influenced the destiny of the country more than he did. No white person was as revered by Kenyans as Edward Carey Francis.' -

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