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Genius 9-Year-Old Kenyan Boy Who Lectured at Dar es Salaam University

On Sunday, May 21, Kenyans were mesmerised by a young genius boy from Kigumo in Murang’a County.

The boy, Bbay Ethan, awed Kenyans with his mastery of the names of national and international politicians.

This led Kenyans to compare the young boy to the early 1980s sensation Bethuel Mbugua.

Bethuel Mbugua was acclaimed as a genius and by the time he was aged 9, he had lectured at 300 different academic institutions, notably Dar es Salaam University in Tanzania.

A photo collage of Bethuel Mbugua in 2018.

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Meet Kenyans

Mbugua was born in 1978 and gained national fame when he joined Rorie Primary in Londiani at six.

By the time he joined the school, he had memorized human anatomy and could effortlessly describe the functions of all body organs. 

When education officials denied his request to skip primary school and sit for Form 4 exams, his father took him out of school to showcase his intellect by touring the East Africa region.

“My father wanted me to concentrate on Biology. We would spend days at the Kenyatta National Hospital libraries, where I memorised medical articles.

“One day to see how much I had retained, he had me lecture about the brain and heart in front of students at a local primary school and the news of my abilities spread like a bushfire,” he detailed in a past interview how he became famous.

Mbugua’s profile rose higher when he sneaked past presidential security and spoke to then-Head of State Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi.

His father had asked him to request a sponsorship to attend a school for the gifted in the United States.

Due to the national interest, he was subjected to a test to measure his IQ, where a renowned psychiatrist declared that he was not a genius, just an above-the-average actor.

His father did not accept the results, and through intense lobbying, he flew him out of the country aged 12 to Los Angeles’ Mirman School for Gifted Children in the United States.

A photo of Bethuel Mbugua during his graduation in 1998.

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Meet Kenyans

Mbugua remarked that going to the US was one of the biggest regrets in his life.

He had to repeat classes and change schools often, and after more than a decade in the US, he finally got a biomedical degree from Macalester College.

“When I landed in the US, it hit me that I was not that good since I was always out of school.

“I was bullied because of my accent and it was a horrible experience. I started questioning the intentions of my father,” he recounted his struggles while in the US.

After failing to live up to an anxious nation’s expectations, Mbugua returned to Kenya in 2003 with only Ksh30,000 in his pocket.

“I forgave my father for putting so much pressure on me to excel globally and I have learnt how to be a better parent for my kids,” he explained.

His father passed away in 2017, dejected that he never saw his son conquer the world.

Jay Ndungu

Jay is a computer scientist and journalist with a passion for the intersection of technology and society. He has a background in computer science, developing a deep understanding of the technical aspects of the industry, including programming languages and software development methodologies. Currently, He writes for Nairobi Times, covering a wide range of topics including technology, politics, sports, and entertainment. With his unique combination of technical knowledge and journalistic experience, Jay brings a unique perspective to the stories he covers, able to explain complex technical concepts in an easy-to-understand manner. His work is dedicated to bridge the gap between technology and society, and to make people more aware of the potential of technology to make the world a better place.

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