Kenyan author, academic, and broadcaster Ken Walibora passed away after a road accident on April 10, 2020.
Ken Walibora’s work as an author, in a body of work that was largely in Kiswahili, endeared him to many around the Kiswahili speaking world. Siku Njema (1996), the story of Msanifu Kombo who was born to a single mother and his attendant struggles, made him a household name. The novel which was a set book in Kenyan secondary schools for many years had its English translation published in 2019. He won the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature, Kenya’s most important literary prize, in 2003, 2005, 2009, and 2015.
He had over forty titles to his name like Siku Njema, Ndoto ya Amerika, Kidagaa Kimemwozea, Nasikia Sauti ya Mama, Damu Nyeusi na Hadithi Nyingine, Kufa Kuzikana, Ndoto ya Almasi, Kiti Cha Moyoni Na Hadithi Nyingine, Innocence Long Lost, Waja Leo: Diwani ya Mashairi, Maskini Milionea Na Hadithi Nyingine, Chapuchapu, Hazina Bora, Pepela na Mto, The American Dream, Bobby the Dog, Upande Mwingine, and Contemporary Africa and the Foreseeable World Order.
Apart from his writing, Walibora worked for many years as a Kiswahili news anchor at the Nation Media Group before joining the University of Wisconsin, USA, as an assistant professor, African languages. He came back home and was rehired by the Nation Media Group before joining Riara University’s School of Diplomacy. He was also involved in initiatives like the Daystar Creatives, Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature, and Tuzo ya Fasihi ya Ubunifu Kiswahili Literary Award.
It has been reported that last Friday, Walibora was hit by a matatu while crossing Landhies Road, Nairobi and sent to the hospital where he passed away while receiving treatment. The driver who fled the scene has since been apprehended.
May our Kiswahili bard rest in peace.