Walibora: Cool and calm probation officer I knew
The sudden death of Prof Ken Walibora Waliaula has robbed Swahili speakers and writers a scholar of no mean repute. As a published author and lecturer at Riara University, he was the epitome of the famous three ‘Cs’: cool, calm and collected.
As a former Kiswahili teacher, I am deeply aggrieved by the death, which typically steals on us, robbing us of folks we hold dear. And there is absolutely nothing we can do about it.
The growth of Kiswahili has been heavily dependent on scholars who not only publish works, but also use mass and lately social media to popularise its use to promote culture, enhance knowledge and enhance self-awareness and folklore.
Ken did his part in the endeavour above, and it is a sort of irony that the man who devoted his life to make Kiswahili a vehicle of the preservation of culture and a national ethos was to meet his death via a vehicle, public service vehicle.
But first things first; I met Ken in the early 90s in Nakuru while working as a court reporter for The Standard.
Ken was then a probation officer with the Ministry of Home Affairs. It is apparent Ken’s general leaning for a large part of his life was serving the public, which he did with singular dedication.
I listened and watched the probation officer present reports in court about convicted offenders who were likely or otherwise to benefit from non-custodial sentence.
While it was customary for probation officers to hold back such cases owing to sloth and delays, Ken’s cases were almost always ready to proceed because his reports were puntually prepared.
It was interesting to listen to him present such reports, which he read out in court and I could not help feeling that such good diction and voice would be a waste just reading probation reports all his life.
It turned out the man had his sights on actual media work, as his stint at the Kenya Broadcating Corporation and Nation Media Group later proved.
The work he did there, and later as an author, speak for him more than anything I would ever say using a few words in a newspaper article.
The literary fraternity, especially Kiswahili enthusiasts, has lost a promising and noble individual, as have his family, relatives and friends as well as all those who knew him. I pray that his soul finds eternal repose.