A Tribute to Prof. Ken Waliaula Walibora

IRCK ran a youth innovation and mentor-ship program in 2015 targeting young Kenyans from Kenyan universities and colleges. The competition that attracted over 300 students from various universities and colleges across the country had a number of phases; the first phase involved a call for entries from individuals or groups from universities and colleges. The second phase involved the short listing of ten top entries from the submissions. The shortlisted candidates were then taken through mentor-ship sessions to firm up their innovative ideas of a better Kenya. Prof. Ken Walibora is one of the professionals who offered to walk with the mentees and helped the 10 finalist firm up ideas on the “Kenya we want” that were later pitched before a panel of judges who selected the eventual winners.

Prof. Ken Walibora [Picture Courtesy]
Ken Waliboras Siku Njema

With the untimely demise of Prof. Ken Walibora, IRCK has reached out to the winner and 3rd runners up of this mentor-ship program to share their tribute to the fallen writer and literature icon.

Arthur K. Muhia, M.A (Kiswahili)

Some of the world’s greatest leaders have been those who made the conscious decision to be part of the solutions for their countries and regions towards the betterment of humanity. Prof. Ken Walibora was such a leader. I first met him during the 2015 Inter-religious Council of Kenya national youth innovation and mentor-ship program on social transformation; during which I was ranked as the first runners- up out of 200 university students participants. Since then he has been among my mentors particularly in my academic journey as a young Kiswahili literature scholar.

From the life of Prof. Ken Walibora, a seasoned Kiswahili literature scholar, we should learn the following lessons:

Firstly, ideas do not come out fully formed. They only become clear as you work on them. It is a process that requires cooperation of like-minded individuals.

Secondly, every plan you adopt in your endeavor to accumulate a great fortune should be based in the imaginative faculty. Through synthetic imagination, we are able to arrange old concepts, ideas or plans into new combinations. Through creative imagination, our minds experience an increase in the vibration of thoughts to the point where one can freely communicate with sources of knowledge not available through the ordinary rate of vibration of thoughts. Therefore, imagination is the faculty through which inspirations and new ideas are handed over to human beings.

Thirdly, every nation desires to have a well-educated workforce with the ability to think and analyze, using varied reasoning and problem solving skills in an inclusive and integrated manner necessary for sustainable development. Consequently, we will fully unlock the God given potential inside us and be part of what will become a catalyst for Africa’s future growth and development.

Every nation desires to have a well-educated workforce with the ability to think and analyze, using varied reasoning and problem solving skills in an inclusive and integrated manner necessary for sustainable development.

When we will gain a high competence in the above stated lessons, Africa will move beyond the status quo of a continent where many challenges of humanity are found, despite the rich resource base in Africa ranging from natural resources to human resources. It will bring to an end the paradox of poverty in the midst of plenty, and scarcity in the midst of abundance.

“Bahari imechafuka na nahodha ametuacha”.

“Bahari imechafuka na nahodha ametuacha”.

Abdulkarim Taraja, Founder & CEO, Elgon Centre for Education

In early 2000, as key listener of Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), Ken Walibora Waliaula surged through the airways in the news casting.

Prof. Ken Walibora [Picture Courtesy]

In the same time, Ken was once again in the lips of many young people in High School, the advent of Siku Njema. The book written with an amazing Swahili accent that captured the real life of a “Hustler” and many other societal issues. I must be sincere that the only book I read and felt in love with novels even before I joined High School was Ken’s Book- Siku Njema. That book made me know Ken Walibora, walking me from my home to Tanga, Tanzania and ending up in Kitale. 

It was 12 years later that I got a singular opportunity to meet Ken Walibora face -to-Face at the Laico Regency Hotel, Nairobi on 22nd May, 2015 at 7.10pm courtesy of the Inter-religious Council of Kenya. All of us were excited to meet Ken and having that handshake with the prolific writer, Journalist and Policy maker, was just extraordinary and amazing. Ken was not just there but was among a pool of judges to decide the excellence of the Youth Innovation Challenge on “The Kenya We Want.” 

I must reveal that the Presence of Prof. Ken Walibora and Prof. PLO Lumumba inflicted a lot of anxiety in me. I wondered what good Swahili will I be able to speak before Prof. Ken; and what English will I speak before an eloquent and confident Prof. PLO Lumumba. I must confess it really challenged me that night. It is because of the Presence of Ken and other media gurus (David Makali, Tinah Korosso, et al) that made the Gala Dinner memorable to date. It was the challenge that evening, helped me to start Community Initiatives and establishing Elgon Centre for Education, to offer Academic Mentorship Programs in schools. 

A man who brought smile to faces of many confused teenagers in High School amid lots of boring lessons; a man who made us to travel from Tanga via Mombasa and finally end up in Cherangany, Kitale.

As Ken is interred for good, I must say that a giant is resting. A man who shared his life with humanity through fabulous books is now resting. A man who brought smile to faces of many confused teenagers in High School amid lots of boring lessons; a man who made us to travel from Tanga via Mombasa and finally end up in Cherangany, Kitale.

I will dearly miss his work as a writer, a public speaker, a motivational speaker, Journalist and a man who despite having immense knowledge, he kept low profile until his untimely demise.  What amazed me is that his demise just happened the way he wrote it in various characters in his books. 

His legacy will live on. His books will remain inspirational for years.

A tribute to a great man. An icon. He shared his life though literature and works with millions of people. He touched, changed and impacted the people that had the chance to interact with him in real life or through his works (as a writer, broadcaster and a lecturer).

Prof. Ken Walibora will be forever celebrated even beyond the grave for he left his mark.

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