Ruth Njiri

Ruth Stutts Njiiri passed away in November 2022
View her obituary


Retirement has allowed me to make visits to Kenya to reacquaint myself with Njiiri family members and friends.  To my surprise, during my first trip, a reporter from the Daily Nation, Kenya's premier newspaper, called to ask for an interview the day before my departure.  On my return to the States, I was amazed when I started receiving e-mails from friends in Kenya telling me that an extensive coverage of the interview was in the Sunday Lifestyle section, January 30, 2005.   All of this, of course, was because I had served as the personal secretary to Kenya's first president, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, as well as other things, leading up to Kenya's Independence and then post- Independence.


For several years I have been involved with the Springfield Museums, particularly the Science Museum. I am currently a board member of the Springfield Museums Association and was appointed to the Executive Committee.  I am also a member of the African Hall Sub-committee. Previously, in my ten-year term as chairman of the African Hall Steering Committee, African Hall was transformed from  a display of Africa's animals to an introduction to the continent's developmental stages, leading up to the infusion of Africans on American soil.  More emphasis has been placed on Africa's people.


As chairman, I also initiated the Ubora Award, which recognizes African-Americans from Greater Springfield who, in the fields of education, science, the arts and humanities, have shown exceptional devotion in their voluntary activities. The award ceremony is held annually in September. 


Last May, I traveled to New York to attend the 50th anniversary of Operation Crossroads Africa which was praised as a progenitor of Peace Corps by the late President John F. Kennedy. Crossroads' founder, the Rev. Dr. James H. Robinson, an African-American Presbyterian minister, served on the board of Peace Corps until his death.  It was my great honor to have been appointed Dr. Robinson's personal secretary during my very young years.  


I continue to be a board member of the Cottonwood Foundation, which though small, has been instrumental in providing seed money for many projects.  The foundation's founder is the great-granddaughter of Ralph Waldo Emerson. During my trips to Kenya, I visited a school in a rural area that needed electricity.  The founder of the school applied for assistance from Cottonwood and was successful.  The Kenya Government will be contributing as well.  [2-09]




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