UON prominent Literature scholar dies at age 75

Proffessor Chris Wanjala

The family of a legend in literature Chris Wanjala, friends and the University of Nairobi are in mourning after he passed away in the wee hours on Monday at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital.

Renowned UoN Literature don Chris Wanjala has died aged 75, the family said on Monday.

His son and family spokesperson Alex Wanjala told reporters on the phone that his father died at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital.

“He was rushed after complaining of chest and stomach pain. He died on the wee hours of Monday,” he said.

The late don’s last public appearance was at a funeral of his childhood friend Julius Sindani at Chesamisi village on Saturday.

“We can’t authoritatively tell what led to his death but all we can say is that he had complained of severe chest and stomach pains,” Alex said.

“He had attended a funeral at the weekend in his ancestral home village of Chesamisi in Bungoma County,” said Dr Alex, a literature lecturer at UoN, just like his father.

“After the funeral, he went back to his home in Lwandeti village and he was taken ill at home. He was dashed to a hospital in Eldoret where they gave some emergency treatment and he was quite stable throughout the day. And the doctors said they would keep him there for two or three days as they carried out tests,” said Mr Alex.

Prof Wanjala died at around 4 am on Monday. “As a family, we have suffered a great loss. He was a good man. We are coming to terms with the loss but we know he has a place in heaven,” said Mr Alex.

Prof Wanjala’s most recent contribution to literature is “Memories We Lost” – an anthology of short stories among other books.

He was hailed by many as an icon revered in academic circles. He was one of Kenya’s leading literary critics and historians.

Over the years, Prof Wanjala made vast contribution to the nation as a literary scholar, writer, critic, and man of culture.

Tributes posted on line after news of his passing broke out, with many praising him for his work as a lecturer and columnist for the Saturday Nation.

“We loved the prof to the core. He was not only a literature mentor but also the greatest teacher of our time. He is the brain behind the Literary Discourse — a column in the Saturday Nation that forms the basis of my love for that paper,” Jerry Muriuki posted on Facebook

Several leaders eulogised Wanjala as a great man who made an immense contribution to literature.

“He was also my great political supporter and one of the resource persons during the Bungoma County Cultural festivals in my term as Bungoma Governor,” Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka said.

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