Culturalist Bantu Mwaura is dead

April 27, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 27 – A human rights activist who was also a university lecturer and renowned poet, Dr Bantu Mwaura is dead.

Dr Mwaura, an award winning performing artist and poet who taught at the University of Nairobi was found dead on a footpath in Sunlight estate in Lang’ata on Sunday night.

Police said they had not established the cause of his death.

“We don’t know yet (what killed him) but there was a bottle with some liquid like poison that was next to his body. We are waiting for investigations. We don’t want to say he swallowed poison at this moment,” Lang’ata divisional police chief Patrick Mang’oli said.

“We have submitted the bottle and its contents to the Government Chemist for further analysis,” he added.

Another police officer who visited the scene but can not be named because he is not authorised to speak to journalists said the body was intact with no signs of struggle or wounds.

“The scene was clear, no blood or anything to suggest there was a struggle. But there was a small bottle next to the body,” the officer said.

Dr Mwaura died on Sunday night but many of his friends and former students at the University of Nairobi said they learnt of the death on Monday afternoon.

“I cannot believe Dr Mwaura is dead, he was such a good lecturer. He taught me two years ago,” a former student at the University of Nairobi said.

Victor Bwire of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) communications division described the late Dr Mwaura as a dedicated activist who was known world over.

“I have just heard about it. It is hard to believe that someone can just die like that. He was on a local television just the other day,” Mr Bwire said.

The deceased was a cultural theorist who has worked mostly with civil society using theatre and performance in human rights and developmental work, both locally and in the international fora.

One of the websites where he is prominently featured states that his poetry has been published in several journals and anthologies in English, Kiswahili and Gikuyu.

It states that he has been commissioned by organisations such as the World Council of Churches and the World Social Forum to write and perform poetry in international fora, performing poetry and spoken word in Europe, the United States and several countries in Africa.

In Kenya, for instance, Dr Bantu appears in the monthly poetry slams organized by Kwani?, the leading East-African based literary magazine.

Dr Bantu was part of the Poetry Africa programme at the World Social Forum in Nairobi in 2007.

He has taught poetry, storytelling and playwriting in different universities in Kenya and the United States and his plays have been performed in Kenya, Zimbabwe, the USA and the UK.

We could not immediately establish more about his family background.


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