Lenana School

Brief History

Lenana School is a high school in Nairobi, Kenya. It was formed in 1949 by colonial governor Philip Euen Mitchell in 1949, known then as the Duke of York School (the actual bell from HMS Duke of York (17) can still be seen mounted at the front school parade ground between the school chapel and the hall). The first students were briefly housed at the then British colonial Governor’s House which is the current State House as they waited for the school’s completion. The founding principal/headmaster was R.H. James.

Originally the school was reserved for white students only within the racial system of colonial Kenya Colony. All teachers (masters, as they were called at the time), were also white. The students were drawn from the sons of British settlers, most of whom were farmers in outlying areas. This required a primarily boarding facility for the students, although originally there were a few “day” students who came daily. The school system was modelled after the English “public school” system.

By the early 1960s the school was fully developed with its own well kept 9 hole golf course, rifle range, horse stables, a cricket oval with a cricket pavilion and ample sports fields for rugby, football, hockey, swimming, tennis, squash, and other sports. The astronomy club as well endowed with telescopes, the science labs well equipped, and off site school facilities provided for sailing, mountain climbing and other distractions most of which are still available to date.

After Kenya’s independence in 1963 there were gradual changes that led to the first few black and Asian students being admitted in the mid 1960s. Black teachers began to be employed in the early 1970s.

The school was renamed Lenana School in 1969 after the legendary Laibon Lenana who was the central human figure in the Maasai religious system and ruled around the end of the 19th century through to the early 20th century. The first Kenyan headmaster (principal) of the school was Mr. James Kamunge.


Nihil Praeter Optimum, Latin for ‘Nothing But The Best’


P. O. Box 30253, Nairobi, Kenya.

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