Agnes Zani was born in Mombasa though she lived in Golini, Kwale County, in her early years where she attended her education.

Dr Zani, born to renown educationists Zacharia and Teresa Zani, is the second-born daughter in a family of three children.


She attended Star of the Sea Primary school and a secondary School in Mombasa until she got to Form Three. She later transferred to Moi High School Nairobi after her father who was a commissioner with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) was transferred to the City.

Dr Zani later pursued her A-levels at the same school after which she proceeded to The University of Nairobi in 1987 to pursue Bachelors of Arts in Sociology and Philosophy in the first year but later majored in Sociology.

She later enrolled for a Masters Programme in the same institution and graduated in 1993.

After lecturing for about nine years, Zani advanced her studies by joining Oxford University in the United Kingdom for a Ph.D. in Sociology courtesy of a scholarship from the Ford Foundation from 2004 to 2007.

She narrates how life as a Nairobi University ‘comrade’ was like.


I joined the University of Nairobi in 1987 for a degree in Sociology. It took three years complete a degree courses then.  I loved Sociology, and it found a soft spot in me, but I disliked the unit on Industrialization and Urbanization.

My best unit was Sociology of the Family, taught by Prof Fillister Onyango, who was my best lecturer. She had a way with words.

I worked part-time as a social worker at Shanzu Teachers college during holidays, they would pay me Sh300 neatly wrapped in a brown envelope.

 Apart from rigorous academics- campus then was a bastion of knowledge… I was a member of judo and karate where I rose to the level of bagging a green belt.
 In fact, there was a time I left parents and students in shock. Donned in white karate regalia, I popped in the air and descended with a flying blow on three bricks set up before tearing through them. My mum asked, “Eh, huyo alikua wewe kweli?” (Was that really you?).

But folks never feared me just because I could throw kicks. I had a soft and appealing face.

When not busy I could occasionally attend rhumba sessions at Carnivore in Nairobi to dance to rhumba Odembe – tailored by Franco of TPOK Jazz, Tabu Ley, and Dr Nico Kasanda.

My most interesting time was when my best friend, the joy of my life approached me, while still a humble second year. I somehow gave in to all he said. He later turned to be my husband. We walked along avenues before he took me under a tree shade and spoke his heart.