Bertha Akim Kingori '57

Bertha Akim Kingori '57
(East African educator)

Bertha Akim was one of the first female students at Makerere College, sponsored by Tanganyika’s (now Uganda's) government in the 1950s.  A scholar interested in "child studies" and the development of African children in particular, Bertha was also an active member of the community.  She helped the social welfare officers at children's clinics in Kampala.  She also served on the Tanganyika Council of Women and was a member of the Makerere Musical and Mathematical Societies.

As a teacher at a school for girls in Mbeya, Tanganyika, Bertha was awarded the Van Leer and Atlanta Fellowship, which allowed her to attend any college in United States for further professional development for one academic year.  Mount Holyoke found itself on Bertha’s map after several Mount Holyoke students decided to invite her and provide her with a travel stipend using the award they won in the College Bowl Quiz contest in 1956.

At Mount Holyoke, Bertha volunteered at the Gorse Child Care Center and studied child psychology and sociology.  After one year in South Hadley, she returned home and continued her work as an educator and advocate for women’s involvement in the community. 

Bertha taught at Mpwapwa and Butimba Teacher Training colleges and was later appointed Headmistress of Bwiru Girls' Secondary School in Mwanza.  She was also the first African woman nominated as a member of the Legislative Council of Tanganyika (Legico) in 1957 and was appointed member of the East African University Council in 1965.

Sadly, Bertha passed away on November 4, 2013.  In the eulogy she was praised as a "pillar of strength and wisdom, a pioneering role model and an inspiration for many who knew her."  We are grateful that her daughter, Elizabeth Chadri, shared this newspaper tribute to her mother with us.