Sunday, May 19, 2024

60 is retirement age; but not for this Kisumu man starting life at 59

At 59, many would be putting final touches on their retirement plans.

Others would be serving their terminal leaves.

Others would have moved to the village to begin new life out of employment.

But this is a sharp opposite of Richard Membo Guya.

At 59, he was last week lining up to be conferred with an undergraduate degree in Pharmacy.

“My life is now beginning,” he told Lake Region Bulletin.

It is 30 years since he first conceived the idea of pursuing the degree course, and 20 years since he first registered for the course.

This is a lifetime achievement. I am very happy about this. We have gone through challenges in business, in family and in many other things. It has come at a great price

Richard Guya

Lack of fees, illnesses, family burden and other life challenges could not allow him attain the degree in the five years as provided in the Kenyan education system.

All in all, he has attained it despite the 15 year delay.

Richard Guya

Early life

Guya was born in 1963 in Kodum village of Nyakach, in Kisumu County.

He attended Onyuongo Primary School in Nyakach, then joined Ngere High School in Seme, before proceeding to Cheptany High School for A-level.

He then pursued a diploma in Pharmacy at the Kenya Medical Training College in Nairobi.

He was posted at Weso District Hospital in Taita Taveta where he worked for two and half years.

Here, he became the head of Pharmaceutical Services, in the whole district (the now Taita Taveta County).

In his first ever attempt to pursue a degree in Pharmacy, Guya secured a Sh60, 000 loan with Afya Sacco in 1990 with the intention of joining a university in India.

Due to pressing family issues, he abandoned the idea. He indulged in business.

Nine years later, his desire to fulfill his dream was rejuvenated, and he went to the United Kingdom, to register for a degree course in Pharmacy at Aston University.

This too could not materialize, and he returned home.


He says his failed attempt to go to India is what pushed him to leave government job, into the private sector, where he joined Dayo Pharmaceuticals, a private pharmaceutical company where he became Productions Supervisor.

In less than six months, he moved to the field of marketing, joining Lords Healthcare, where he took four years.

“Here, I was in charge of institutions in the whole country, and responsible for many popular products,” he said.

In 1994, Guya then moved to start his own wholesale and retail business in Nairobi, through his PetriPharm Company.

“I did this till the year 2009,” he said.

And in 2006, he opened a branch in Kisumu, renaming it Ramogi Chemist.

But while in Nairobi, Guya indulged in many other businesses, including the transport industry, where he operated Public Services Vehicles, real estate, among others.

Richard Guya (fourth right) with his colleague undergraduate Pharmacy students at Mount Kenya University.

Relocating to Kisumu

He then relocated to Kisumu fully, opening his first Chemist at the United Mall, before opening three more branches in Kisumu.

In 2002, after his failed attempt to pursue his degree course in the UK, Guya tried his hand in politics, seeking Nyakach Constituency Parliamentary seat, but lost at the party nominations level.

He joined the University of Nairobi in 2003 to pursue a degree in Pharmacy at Chiromo Campus.

Due to illness, he only managed to complete his first year, and dropped out as health complications caught up with him.

In 2011, he ventured into the education business, constructing Hekima School in Migosi Estate.

The school opened doors in 2012, and now has a population of 600 students, and is also one of the private schools which have been approved to host the Junior Secondary School.

In 2017, Guya missed a chance to become a Deputy Governor.

I just told people that I had some pressing issues with my businesses, but down in my heart I knew I had not formalized my academic papers

Richard Guya

Due to lack of a degree certificate, he declined the offer.

“I just told people that I had some pressing issues with my businesses, but down in my heart I knew I had not formalized my academic papers,” he said.

It was a year later that he decided to go back to the university to complete his degree course.

But there was a number problem. His son had joined the University of Nairobi to pursue a degree in Pharmacy, and Guya could not fathom sharing a class with his son.

Richard Guya (third right) with fellow graduates at the Mount Kenya University

Finally a graduate

It was here that he chose to join Mount Kenya University, to pursue the same course.

And on Friday, December 9, 2022, Guya stood up, when his name was listed among over 5, 000 names in the Mount Kenya University 2022 graduation list.

“I have never felt so happy! I have never celebrated anything in my life! And I think this is the best thing to have ever happened to me,” he said.

“This is a lifetime achievement. I am very happy about this. We have gone through challenges in business, in family and in many other things. It has come at a great price,” he said.

“I am happy for those who cooperated, the university, friends, family and many others who stood with me in this journey.”

For four years, Guya rented a house in Thika, stayed a lone in order to get enough time to attend classes at the Mount Kenya University main campus.

“Not many people have known that I was doing this. I kept telling them that I am held up somewhere, but could not disclose much. Just a handful of close friends knew where I have been and what I was doing,” he said.


Next stage of life

During the four years, his businesses have suffered.

“For example, the Chemist business requires a lot of attention, and since I was away and only available during weekends, it was difficult to give it full attention,” he said.

His mission now is to settle down, and give his full attention to the businesses, which include the chemists, the school, a hospital, and a security firm.

He says the degree certificate now opens his political space.

“There are people who have been feeling that I can make a good governor, and now I have normalized my papers, and open for any political office,” he said.

Apart from this, Guya says his Pharmacy career is also expanded, as it expands his scope.

“In the Pharmaceutical industry, when you have a diploma, you can only meet at the level of Kenya Pharmaceuticals Association, but with a degree, you now have Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya,” he said.

“I have only been able to interact with these senior people in the Pharmaceutical industry simply because of my prowess in business, but with the degree, it allows me to interact holistically in the industry,” he added.

Kevine Omollo
Lake Region Bulletin is your one stop multi-media platform for news from Lake Region Counties of Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay, Migori, Kisii, Nyamira, Vihiga, Kakamega, Busia, Bungoma, Trans Nzoia, Nandi, Kericho and Bomet. Email:

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