Visionary chief who hopes to beat his two sons in KCSE exam

Friday November 29 2019

Mandera principal chief Issak Adawa (centre) with his two sons Abass (right) and Abdibasid. PHOTO | MANASE OTSIALO | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Mr Issak Adawa, a principal chief in Mandera County, is no ordinary administrator.

At 59, he was one of the candidates in the just concluded Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination.

Interestingly, the father of 28 (16 girls and 12 boys) wrote the test with two of his sons, Abass Issak Adawa and Abdibasid Issak Adawa, and is optimistic he will perform better than them although they have been in class throughout.

Chief Barrow, as he is popularly known, sat the test at Elwak Secondary School while Abass and Abdibasid were candidates at Mandera Secondary School and Shimbir Fatuma Secondary School, respectively.


Abass is Mr Adawa’s 21st child while Abdibasid is the 18th.


“I sat KCSE this year because I have a vision and I wanted to conform to the current education system,” he said.

The chief wrote the Mathematics, English, Kiswahili, Chemistry, Biology, History and Government and Islamic Religious Education tests.

Mr Adawa could not reveal his ambitions, but those in the know said he is eyeing a ward representative seat in 2022.

In an interview with the Nation, Abass said it will be “miraculous” for his father to beat them when results are released.

“I doubt if my father will score more than me because I’ve been in school throughout, yet he just joined to do the exams,” said Abass.


Mr Adawa sat the Certificate of Primary Education (CPE) in 1973 and succeeded his father, who has since died, as Elwak chief in 1985. Since then, he has attended a number of government-sponsored trainings that have enabled him carry out his responsibilities as principal chief in Mandera.

He is fluent in English, Kiswahili, Somali and Borana.

“I’ve spearheaded quite a number of peace negotiations among clans in Mandera,” he said.

Back to his academic mission, Mr Adawa said he managed to score an A grade in the KCSE qualifier exams he sat last year.

He hopes to join a college and study a short course in public administration and political science. “I have more than enough knowledge to handle the public because that is what I’ve been doing since 1985. But I need good papers now for my next step in life as I’m about to retire,” he said.

Mr Adawa has survived two terror incidents while traversing the county.