Bowing out laughingly


Showbiz swag with the C.E.O

As the sad news of celebrated playwright Francis Imbuga was announced, the words of Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe that ‘proverbs are the palm oil with which words are eaten’ came to mind.

The old good professor was a master storyteller with a deft touch to words. He not only simply expressed the deficiencies of the society, but also told it laughingly.

I know that the late Prof wanted his latest book, The Return of Mgofu, which warns of ethnic and electoral violence, picked as a set book, but I think the choice of Betrayal in the City is still apt as today’s society is full of Mulilis.

Betrayal in the City captures the current political landscape as he aptly penned that when the madness of an entire nation disturbs a solitary mind then it is not true to say that someone is mad.

Just a glimpse of power jostling among a certain group of power hungry individuals hell-bent to succeed has mirrored badly to the country’s image four years after blood- cuddling post-election violence.

But the good Prof also in a way must have foreseen the growth of social media illiterate geniuses, la Mulilisque.

I did not meet Prof Imbuga in life, his books have inspired a generation. I still marvel at his collection including Man of Kafira, which is a sequel to Betrayal in the City, Aminata, Burning of Rags, The Successor, Shrine of Tears, The Miracle of Remera and recently the Return of Mgofu, among others.

With all these literary greats passing on, including my good music teacher Prof Arthur Kemoli, good buddy Dr Ezekiel Alembi who we distributed books with in Kibera schools alongside KU Literature students, Wahome Mutahi who we discussed humour at KNT over a drink and Margaret Ogola, among others, Taban Lo Liyong was wrong to call East Africa a literary desert.

I’m also honoured to have read Muntu by Ghanaian Prof Joe de Graft and Ugandan luminary John Ruganda. Let’s borrow from Imbuga’s life and tell the truth laughingly!


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