Ken Walibora: Swahili literary master whose legacy still lingers on

Prof Ken Waliaura Walibora. (Courtesy)

Prof Ken Waliaura Walibora was among the finest Swahili fiction writers Kenya has ever had. He was also a renowned linguistic, poet, author and media personality.

He was born on 6th January, 1964 in Baraki, Bungoma County. This was a significant time in history since Kenya had just gained independence from the colonialists. Walibora’s influence in the Swahili literary heritage still stands out and remains remarkable in many ways. 

Since his demise, the interest on his life and books, particularly ‘Kidagaa Kimemwozea’, Siku Njema, Ndoto ya Almasi, Damu Nyeusi and Tuzo has grown. His other books include Kufa Kuzikana, Ndoto ya America, Nasikia Sauti ya Mama and Innocence Long Lost.

His literary pieces and books are not only receiving increased readership but many Kenyans and even foreigners are re-reading them with deep curiosity and global admiration. His literary work and voice remain to be penetrating and sharp as they were.

Besides being a greater author, Walibora was also a profound journalist.

He commenced his career at KBC radio as a Swahili news editor and later switched to Nation Media Group where he was a pioneer in the media house’s Swahili Editorial Desk. Upon Nation launching a sister TV channel QTV, Walibora became prime time news anchor.

Later, he got a job as an assistant professor of African Languages at The University of Wisconsin before rejoining Nation Media Group and taking the position of Kiswahili Quality Manager up and until 2017.

Despite his immense successes, Walibora was known to exhibit a humble mien, with a unique blend of indomitable faith and charm.

Walibora died on 10th April, 2020 after purportedly being knocked down by a vehicle on Ladhies road, Nairobi.



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