NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 19 – Francis Imbuga, the Kenyan who gripped many readers with his literary masterpieces like Betrayal in the City, Aminata, Man of Kafira and other books died on Sunday night.
The 65-year-old, who will be fondly remembered for his sense of humour, wit and satirical writing, fell sick at his Kahawa Sukari home and was rushed to Kenyatta University Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Imbuga’s brother-in-law Reardon Olubayo told Capital FM News that the late professor had been sick for a while before things turned worse.
“The late Prof Francis Imbuga passed on yesterday (Sunday) at about 11:30pm. He had been getting bouts of illness but was in good condition for the better part of the day. He just fell sick at night and was rushed to the hospital but he was pronounced dead on arrival,” he explained.
Unconfirmed reports indicated that Imbuga had suffered a stroke.
Olubayo said that the playwright’s body was later taken to the Lee Funeral Home before burial on November 24, at his Kisatiru village, in Vihiga County.
Imbuga leaves behind a widow and five children aged between the ages of 36 and 24.
“We are making funeral arrangements and we hope that he will be buried on Saturday in his village. The deceased had one son, four daughters and his wife, who is the Vice Chancellor of Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology (Prof Mabel Imbuga),” he revealed.
The scholar’s works have become staples in the study of literature in Kenyan schools with Betrayal in the City being selected, once again, for literary studies in secondary schools.
He also published The Return of Mgofu in 2011; a play that highlights ethnic animosity among different African countries.
The late professor had been heading the literature department at Kenyatta University (KU) prior to his death.
A sombre mood engulfed his home where friends and family had gone to console the family.
Close friends described the death as a great loss to KU and to the country at large.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga joined fellow Kenyans in mourning the icon’s death saying he was an honourable man who had a great mind and stellar integrity.
“I particularly mourn with the young people of Kenya, the high school and university students for whom Prof Imbuga was a role model and an inspiration,” said the premier in a statement from South Korea.
“I want to believe that in the after-life, or wherever a table is set aside for writers of integrity, there will be Francis Imbuga seated with honour and dignity. That is my wish for him,” he added.
He also described Imbuga as fearless, courageous and daring.
“Only a person with such traits could have written Betrayal in the City and kept on living in Kenya and the city of Nairobi at that time. May God grant professor Imbuga eternal peace,” he said.