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

The family of the late Kiswahili guru Prof Ken Waliaula Walibora has penned a tribute in his honour, three years after he passed on.

In the tribute, that was published in the Daily Nation, the family reminisced about the times they spent with him. Still, the family has never been accorded justice after the passing on of the iconic author, a Kiswahili linguist, and journalist.

“Another year has slid by in the dazzle, and bustle of living and dying. Ken’s memory soldiers on. Someday, someone will demystify his inexplicably agonizing demise. But today we remember our mjomba, a father and husband, a loyal friend,” read the tribute.

Relatives carry the coffin with the body of author Ken Walibora. PHOTO | GERALD BWISA

“We remember his humility, his unique blend of wit, charm, and indomitable faith. Though rich memories are not substituted enough, for the boom of his infectious laughter, or the wealth of his tale. They are all we have. Till the dawn of Siku Njema.”

On April 10, 2020, Kenyans woke to sad news. Professor Walibora was no longer a man whose books had been read and examined in national examinations and an award-winning Kiswahili author.

He had been knocked down by a bus on Landhies Road in Nairobi hours earlier, even though an autopsy would later reveal that he had also been stabbed.

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Prof Walibora had laid in the Kenyatta National Hospital for 14 hours waiting for help that never came.

Though circumstances surrounding his death are still uncoordinated, it is believed that at 7:18 am that fateful day, Prof Walibora left his house at Lavington Heights, Nairobi, for Kijabe Street, where he arrived from the direction of Harry Thuku Road shortly before 8 am, parked his dark blue Mercedes-Benz, registration number KBJ 802Y, and stepped out.

He was dressed in a striped T-shirt and open shoes and held the keys to his car in his right hand as he made his way towards the Globe Roundabout, a few hundred meters away.

There are contradictory reports on whether he left on foot or in another car. While some security guards who saw him say he disappeared from their view, on foot, others say he was picked up by another car that drove toward the roundabout.

A few minutes later, he was hit by a bus as he dashed across the outbound stretch of Landhies Road, next to the entrance to Machakos bus station.

It is believed this was the opening Walibora used to cross as he ran from the Muthurwa side of the road. He never made it.

On being hit, Prof Walibora lay bleeding on the road until a good samaritan drove him to the hospital. It was then reported that onlookers alerted an ambulance crew to the accident, but their calls were ignored.

He had no identification, so they recorded him as an ‘Unknown African Male.’ Or, simply, a John Doe.

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Doctors ordered two tests on him, an X-ray examination and a CT scan. The latter showed extensive damage to his head, so doctors resolved that he needed to be put in intensive care. Unfortunately, all 22 beds in KNH’s main intensive care unit were occupied, and the five in the emergency section were also unavailable.

Had he been with his identification documents, medics would, at this point, have reached out to his next of kin for guidance on other available options outside the hospital.

But because he didn’t have any and couldn’t himself ask to be transferred elsewhere, the staff at KNH decided to let him stay there with them.

The driver of the Double M bus, George Mburu, was arrested and released on a Sh10,000 cash bail. It is not clear how far the case has gone, despite police saying they would charge him for causing death by dangerous driving.

Detectives said Mr Mburu claimed he never saw Prof Walibora running across the road and that he may have hit the bus from the side. However, people who witnessed the accident said he was being chased by street boys and was hit as he tried to run across the road.

Still questions of who wanted Prof dead and why justice has never been accorded to him sting every year, especially on the anniversary every, April 10.

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