Prof. Ken Walibora: Death has taken the Humblest of them all
By Gabriel Dinda
On 4th March, 2017, Prof. Ken Walibora was a guest at Masinde Muliro University’s Youth Summit, an event which the university organized in collaboration with Writers Guild Kenya and other partners. When we reached out to Prof. Walibora to be a guest at this event, he readily agreed. In fact, he advised us not to worry about his transport budget as he was willing to drive himself all the way and that he had planned to be in Western for other activities. When we went to pick him from the Kakamega Golf Club, Dr. Mandilah, one of the organizers and a lecturer from Masinde Muliro University was shocked at his humility. She remarked that unlike other guests, Prof. really stood out even by how he handled people. This was the case even in his speech, where he emphasized the need to use Kiswahili and give priority to local languages.
Prof. Walibora’s humility was probably put to test after the end of the event. It was drizzling and the Writers Guild members at Masinde Muliro had wanted to have a separate session with him. The main event had taken so long that it was not possible to have the session. Solomon Muya, one of the members, had really wanted to have a brief session with him. In fact, he had printed a copy of his manuscript, Ipo Siku, which he had planned to give him. Just when Prof, had started his journey, Solomon ran after him and he halted and gave Solomon a listening ear. He told Solomon one thing, that his schedule wouldn’t allow him to read it, but he encouraged him to write more and more and approach publishers to get the book published. Solomon was encouraged and the book was published a year later. The memory of this brief session with Solomon, will forever remain in my mind.
This was not the first time we were inviting Prof, to a session. In 2015, we invited him on behalf of Kenyatta University to be the guest at Kenyatta University’s Career Week; which he honoured. I remember that Saturday afternoon when he spoke to hundreds of High School students. He encouraged them to dream big and write better books than him for those who wanted to write. And for those who wanted to go to other careers, he encouraged them not to be limited by their circumstances.
It appears to me that Prof. Walibora did not just write for the sake, or for the transient reason of it, but he viewed writing as a way to touch lives; a way to reach out to humanity. He travelled miles and miles to speak to students, especially High School students and encouraged them to work hard and dream big. He blended his gift of writing with his love for humanity. Prof, had profound respect for all. Though he had such a “big name”, you would notice this when dealing with him. May all that we learnt from him remain with us forever.
Indeed, death has taken the humblest of them all. May your soul Rest in Peace, Prof.