By Eric Kathenya and Peter Nganga, Strathmore University
Dr George Njenga, the founding Dean of Strathmore Business School was appointed Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Quality Assurance) on 1st September.
Dr Njenga started his professional life as an auditor at Ernest and Young in 1989. In 1992, he came back to his alma mater Strathmore College where he held various positions including Administrator, Human Resource Director and Director of the School of Accountancy. He has served as a Trustee for the Universitys Provident Fund Scheme and as a member of the University Management Board and Academic Council.
Dr Njenga successfully defended his PhD thesis in Political Philosophy at the University of Navarra (Spain) in June and completed his doctorate summa cum laude (with highest distinction or literally with highest praises). The title of his thesis was: A Theoretical Analysis of Society and the Common Good in Aristotelian tradition and modern liberalism ethos.
Question: Your academic background is business. You are a Certified Public Accountant (Kenya) you hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting (magna cum laude), a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) in Strategic Management, and a MA in Governance and Cultural Institutions from Navarra. So why a doctorate in political philosophy?
Answer: Philosophy orders all sciences in society. It is a master science because it is the only discipline that can attempt to understand all knowledge.
Ancient philosophers like Plato and Aristotle thought that a leader should be a Philosopher-King and has to order society in the light of true fundamental principles that ensure the common good of a people. Ordering society is also linked fundamentally to ordering the knowledge and this is the work of philosophers especially in a university setting.
My thesis is an attempt at renegotiating and deliberating on the principles of modern liberalism, capitalism and democracy from the perspective of the Aristotelian common good of society.
On the strength of Aristotles Politics, it renews the call to civic humanism, which questions the predominance of western individualism, capitalism, liberalism and democracy and their predominant philosophies.
I am looking forward to getting feedback about the thesis from the University community, and the whole world.
Q: Using your thesis as the reference frame, how can we fix Kenya?
A: We need to promote dialogue between all communities without exclusion in order to arrive at the common good of our society borne of our good traditions, philosophy and customs. The new constitution is a bold attempt at finally acknowledging a common Kenyan community of communities.
Currently, there is confusion arising from an artificial law without common acceptance among the peoples of Kenya. People do not in fact fully understand the principles underlying our two constitutions; that is the artificial one inserted at independence and the new one purporting to form a common community of Kenyans.
This is evident in public fora where individual politicians purport to represent communities but they do not embody the common good those communities. A duality of the individual politician empowered by a law that sometimes is not lived (rewarded or punished) under communal values emerges.
How can you have a justice and executive system that is not lived in the day to day life of most communities? The mirage of an artificial government which ‘practically’ does not embody the common values of the communities also emerges. For example, we see impunity and corruption among our leaders and lack of a common good of ALL communities, equitable redistribution of economic power through education, security, culture, traditions and so on.
Because of the above, leaders lose the powers of execution in the community. Power of execution includes having a strategy for each community to achieve the common good. The term common good represents all facets that each community has such as self sustenance that promotes continuous improvement.
Besides Justice understood as encompassing all good virtues of a community, the Common good includes provision of security, health, education and an effective executive, legal and legislative system as well as developing the economy and ensuring just distribution of resources.
Q: You have been part of the Strathmore project for 19 years. You were the Director of the School of Accountancy from 2002 to 2005 when it started offering the Certified Financial Analyst (CFA®) and Certified Information Systems Audit Program (CISA), and you helped set up the School of Finance and Banking in Kigali, Rwanda. Where do you see Strathmore in the near future?
A: I am proud of the great strides Strathmore has taken over the years. It is 45 years since the School of Accountancy started. Strathmore has been a University for 10 years now, and SBS is at the apex of post graduate education at the University. There should be other such schools in the areas of technology, the so called 4th estate, health care, law and humanities in the future.
I intend to continue supporting SBS at the same time reinforcing the strategy of the University. We need to continue building top class international lecturers in order to become a top notch global institution. The University also needs to seek international accreditation and forge partnerships that align with its strategy. Every staff member of the University even at the lowest level of administration should embody this lovable ideal: to be nothing less than the best!
Q: At the World Youth Day held in Madrid in August 2011, Pope Benedict said the search for truth is the most precious gift which universities can give to students. How can this be achieved?
A: In that address to lecturers, the Pope warned about utilitarian approach to education and said that when mere utility and pure pragmatism become the principal criteria, much is lost and the results can be tragic. The authentic idea of the University, on the other hand, is precisely what saves us from reductionist and curtailed vision of humanity.
I try to bring industry experience to bear on my academic work. I started my professional career in the industry and I am still active in the business world. I serve in the Board of Directors of Pacis Insurance Company, and I am a founding Director of Association of African Business Schools (AABS).
I am also a member of the Board of the Europe-based Harvard Virtuous Leadership Institute think tank, and I serve as an advisory board member of the Management Education Research Consortium (MERC) among others.
I am grateful to the mentoring system at Strathmore that has given me an opportunity to mentor many young people to maturity.
I have also had the opportunity to teach ethics and management. Over the years, I have developed reviews of popular philosophical works. Most of them can be found on the Universitys digital library under the GEORGE NJENGA-WISDOM @STRATHMORE SERIES.
And yes, I am looking forward to feedback on my thesis. I need the feedback.
Dr Njenga’s PhD Thesis