Mourners pay glowing tributes to Chakava

Casket bearing the remains of Henry Chakava during his funeral in Vokoli, Vihiga. [Courtesy]

Seasoned publisher Henry Chakava was on Saturday laid to rest at his home in Vokoli in Vihiga county.

Family, friends, colleagues and politicians described him as father of the Kenyan publishing industry, who presided over the new age of book publishing. 

He died on March 8 while being treated at Nairobi Hospital. During the burial of the seasoned publisher, mourners paid the fallen giant glowing tributes.

Hillary Chakava, who read his uncle’s eulogy, said his impact on the African publishing industry and on intellectual production in the region was second to none. “Today, we lay to rest one of the best in the publishing industry, a family man who impacted many lives,” he said. 

Chakava is survived by his wife Rosalind Khayasi and three children.

Khayasi described her husband as a supportive man who took care of his family even with his busy schedule.

“You have been our family’s pillar, resilient leader, provider, loving husband and father to us. The illness did not stop you from playing your role. What a gift from God, you have been, my husband. Rest in God’s eternal peace my love, until we meet again,” said Khayasi. 

Dr Chakava had more than 50 years of experience in the creation and publication of high quality reading and learning materials in Kenya and beyond.

He began his career with British owned Heinemann Educational Books Limited, an international publishing house where he became the organisation’s first African editor.

He later led the acquisition of the Heinemann (East Africa) and converted the company into a household name that is now East African Education Publishers.

In his career, he also nurtured and promoted African writers, furthering indigenous language and promoting greater access to books and other written materials for children.

He has published the works of Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Grace Ogot, Francis Imbuga, John Kiriamiti, Mejja Mwangi, Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye (all from Kenya), Chinua Achebe, Cyprian Ekwensi (Nigeria), Taban Lo Liyong (South Sudan) Okot P’Bitek, John Ruganda (Uganda), David Rubadiri (Malawi) and Peter Abrahams (South Africa), among others.

Some of the notable leaders present during the burial service at Vihiga were Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi, Vihiga Governor Wilber Ottichilo, Vihiga Senator Godfrey Osotsi, former Busia Senator Amos Wako and MPs, among others.

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