Benjamin Franklin’s Influence in a Kenyan Slum: Junto Club

Kibera Aeronautics & Space Academy (KASA) recently hosted a Junto-inspired event at Tunapanda Institute.

Melkizedek Owuor
Tunapanda Institute


KASA Junto members during a recent meetup at Tunapanda Institute

In 1727 in Philadelphia, a young man by the name of Benjamin Franklin with a great thirst for solving problems and making his environment a better place formed a club with the purpose of debating questions of morals, politics, and natural philosophy and to exchange knowledge on business affairs¹.

Benjamin Franklin, who later became a Founding Father of the United States and one of the greatest polymaths to ever lived, called the club Junto, derived from junta — a Spanish word for “assembly”.

The club members regularly met on Friday evenings. Benjamin Franklin revealed in his autobiography that during the meetings, “it was required of every member to produce one or more queries on any point of Morals, Politics, or Natural Philosophy, to be discuss’d by the company; and once in three months produce and read an essay of his own writing, on any subject he pleased.”

Members of the Junto club came from different backgrounds — printers, surveyors, among others. The members, however, shared a common goal — a spirit of inquiry, a desire for self-improvement and community improvement.

There were some questions that were posed to the members during the meetings. The questions, which covered a range of topics — personal, business, and community, were used among other reasons to launch discussions. Some of the questions included:

  • Have you met with anything in the author you last read, remarkable, or suitable to be communicated to the Junto? Particularly in history, morality, poetry, physics, travels, mechanic arts, or other parts of knowledge?
  • Has any citizen in your knowledge failed in his business lately, and what have you heard of the cause?
  • Do you think of anything at present, in which the Junto may be serviceable to mankind? To their country, to their friends, or to themselves?
  • Do you know of any deserving young beginner lately set up, whom it lies in the power of the Junto any way to encourage?
  • Is there any man whose friendship you want, and which the Junto, or any of them, can produce for you?
  • What benefits have you lately received from any man not present?

KASA — Kibera Aeronautics & Space Academy — recently hosted a Junto-inspired event at Tunapanda Institute. As a program that teaches young learners scientific and technological knowledge using space exploration as inspiration, KASA plans to regularly host similar events with key discussion areas covering KASA-related topics and personal and community development.

In the first event, KASA Junto members discussed the future of buildings (specifically how Kibera can use modern technologies and designs to improve the state of its buildings), mental health challenges among young people, and money. Follow KASA on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates on the upcoming Junto sessions.

KASA Junto members in a group discussion


¹Junto (club), Wikipedia —