Renowned Literature don Prof Chris Wanjala is dead. The University of Nairobi professor died at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret following a short illness.
“He was rushed after complaining of chest and stomach pain. He died on the wee hours of Monday. 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,” his son and family spokesperson Alex Wanjala told the Star newspaper.
The late don’s last public appearance was at a funeral of his childhood friend Julius Sindani at Chesamisi village on Saturday.
Prof Wanjala is an icon in literary circles and has authored several books. His anthology of short stories Memories We Lost, which is one of the literature set books for secondary school students, is the most famous. He also previously wrote for various newspapers as a columnist. Early on, Wanjala published in The Weekly Review, Joe Magazine, and Nairobi Times.
A graduate of the UoN, briefly worked for the then East African Literature Bureau, now Kenya Literature Bureau, as a book production officer. He would edit and help publish books before eventually getting a teaching job at the University of Nairobi in 1972, becoming one of the first three postgraduate alumni to teach at the institution. At the time, most of the lecturers were either Makerere University trained or British expatriates.
Prof Wanjala, who is credited with setting up the Literature Department at Egerton University, was recognised by former President Mwai Kibaki with the Elder of the Order of the Burning Spear (EBS) award in 2012.