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A look back at the iconic life of Ken Walibora

It is often said that time flies, and for those acquainted with the distinguished Kenyan Swahili author and journalist Prof. Ken Walibora, it has been three years since his passing.

A bus hit the celebrated author in a freak accident along Landhies Road in Nairobi on Friday, April 10, 2020.

Also read: Your memory soldiers on! Ken Walibora’s family pays heartfelt tribute, 3 years on

On April 8, 2023, writers, journalists, and scholars from East African countries gathered together to honor the memory of the late writer and editor during a memorial event at his home in the Ngozi area.

As we continue to remember him, here are a few things you need to know about him.

He was born in Bungoma County on January 6, 1965, and grew up in Kitale and Cherangany.

Walibora attended several schools, including St. Joseph Primary School, Teremi and Suremi secondary schools, Ole Kajiado High School, and the University of Nairobi, where he graduated with a first-class honors degree in literature and Swahili studies.

He also obtained a Master’s degree from Ohio University in the US and worked as a lecturer at Wisconsin Madison University and Riara University.

Walibora was a prolific author with over 40 titles, including the famous Siku Njema, a secondary school set book between 1997 and 2003. Other notable works include Kidagaa Kimemwozea, Kufa Kuzikana, Tuzo, Ndoto ya Almasi, Damu Nyeusi, and Ndoto Ya America.

Also read: Renowned in life, alone in death: The tragic story of Ken Walibora

In addition to his writing career, Walibora worked as a Swahili news anchor and editor at KBC and Nation Media Group as a probation officer and secondary school teacher.

Walibora was a passionate advocate for the Swahili language and literature. He believed the language was a critical component of Kenyan culture and identity and worked tirelessly to promote its use and development.

He was also an active member of the literary community in Kenya and was involved in many initiatives to support and nurture young writers. He mentored and supported numerous up-and-coming writers, and his contributions to the Kenyan literary scene were widely recognized and appreciated.

Walibora was a versatile writer and wrote in various genres, including novels, short stories, essays, and poetry. His writing was characterized by a deep empathy for his characters and a keen understanding of the complexities of human relationships and experiences.

Also read: Revealed: The painful death of Prof Ken Walibora

Walibora’s writing was widely acclaimed both within and outside Kenya. His works have been translated into several languages, including English, French, German, and Chinese, and he has been invited to speak and present his work at literary festivals and conferences in many countries.

He was awarded the Jomo Kenyatta Literature Prize twice for his works Ndoto ya Amerika in 2003 and Kisasi Hapana in 2009. Additionally, he has contributed numerous book chapters and articles to academic journals such as Research in African Literatures (RAL), Swahili Forum, Kiswahili, Journal of the Association of African Literature (JALA), Canadian Journal of African Studies (CJAS), African Quarterly Review (AQR), Journal of the African Language Teachers Association (JALTA), and Curator: The International Museum Journal.

Walibora’s death was a significant loss to the Kenyan literary community, and his legacy continues to inspire and influence many writers in the country and beyond.

Also read: Ken Walibora buried in absence of widow, children – PHOTOS/VIDEO