, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 11 – It wasn’t the guard of honour Kenya’s third President Mwai Kibaki probably got used to when he was Commander-in-Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces. The boots weren’t spit shined or the uniforms ironed sharp but then again it wasn’t your usual kind of ceremony; it is not every day that an eight-year-old gets published.
And so the girls and boy scouts of Kilimani Junior Academy mounted a parade and the pre-schoolers sang songs in honour of their very own: Ngure Ndiritu.
Ngure has written a collection of short stories compiled under the title Out of the Box by Phoenix Publishers, making Ngure one of the youngest – if not the youngest – published Kenyan author.
And it wasn’t hard to see why when he stood in front of the Kilimani Junior Academy student body and Kibaki to speak on his book.
He did not shake, stutter or miss a beat. Instead the “writer, pianist slash actor,” took over as his own master of ceremony. Unexpectedly calling on his music teachers — who helped him write the book — and his family to share in the spotlight.
“I couldn’t have launched this book if I was the only person on the planet,” he said.
The son of former Laikipia West MP Ndiritu Muriithi and East Africa Tourism Platform Co-ordinator Waturi Matu didn’t leave his best friend Ryan behind either. “I couldn’t have done it without him,” he testified. Undertaking to collaborate with him on his next book.
Out of the Box, Ngure explained, chronicled their adventures, “when we were younger,” he said to much amusement.
But writing a book is no laughing matter as his mother acknowledged. “I haven’t even finished an essay I’ve been working on,” she said.
But his accomplishment, Kibaki said, was her accomplishment. She and Muriithi, he explained, had after all allowed the ‘governor’ of his Standard 3 class time to play and explore his talents.
“Unless children are allowed to live their childhoods to the fullest, the society can easily condemn its future to a waste land of maladjusted men and women… Stop telling them to wait until they’re older to realise their potential. I’m sure Ngure wouldn’t be the exception then,” he stated.
And to Ngure — who could qualify as Kibaki’s grandson given Muriithi is his nephew — he wrote ‘Best of Luck in your endevours,’ on the first page of his book.
Endeavors that not only include authorship, Ngure shared, but becoming a pilot and maybe even president. “When he met President Kenyatta,” Muriithi relayed, “he told him he intends to do that job.”
And if his most recent accomplishment is anything to go by, Ngure could very well one day be the one inspecting the guard of honour.