Dean of Westminster talks to the JTC about teaching in Kenya

The Very Reverend Dr John Hall was installed as the 38th Dean of Westminster on 2nd  December 2006.  The Dean is responsible for the spiritual life of the Abbey and its community.  The Abbey is a Royal Peculiar, which means rather than being responsible to a bishop; the Dean is responsible to the Sovereign alone.

The Jubilee Time Capsule visited the Dean at the Abbey to record his memorable moments from the past 60 years.  In the above entry the Dean remembers the period he spent teaching in 1968 at Starehe Boys’ Centre and School in Nairobi, Kenya.  The school was set up 10 year previously by Dr Geoffrey William Griffin MSB OBE, Geoffrey Gatama Geturo and Joseph Kamiru Gikubu to take off the streets and educate boys who had been orphaned in the Mau Mau Uprising.

 The year before the Dean arrived at Starehe Robert Kennedy (brother of the assassinated John Kennedy, President of the United States from 1960-1963) had visited the school.  His visit was remembered with “enormous affection” by the people there.  The Dean recalls “when on the 5th June 1968 we heard that he [Robert Kennedy] had himself been assassinated there was a terrible wave of shock through the whole school”.

The director Geoffrey Griffin asked the Dean to talk to the boys who were Christians and to try and say something that would help them to understand and cope.  The Dean was 19 years old at the time and recalls that it was an extraordinary thing to be asked to talk to the boys when he had no experience of speaking a very large crowd like that.  The boys were asking him some very difficult theological questions and the Dean remembers “feeling tremendous anxiety” about whether he was giving anything at all useful.

The Dean says it is a memory that is utterly fixed in his mind and although the assassination was obviously a terrible thing, his time in Kenya “was a great joy”, so he remembers it with “bittersweet memory”.

To see this entry in the Jubilee Time Capsule please visit the website.

To see the Dean’s interview about the Royal Wedding please click here.

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