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Obituary: Professor Chris Lukorito Wanjala

Copyright Tujipange African Media


The cocks did not crow in Bungoma this morning. An elder statesman went on a journey of no return. Let those who love chicken eat, as for me my appetite will not see many days. The village overslept and woke up to the message from the other world. Lukorito Wanjala has carried his English with him to the land of his ancestors. Who will speak for us? Who will negotiate on our behalf? Death is a stranger to us, if you know death, tell death we do not like death. The keeper of unpleasant surprises. Death followed him to Eldoret. Just imagine! Oh, when death wants you, death will find you.

The cocks did not wake us up at 4 am in Bungoma this morning.

My senior, Lukorito, has packed his books. He has swept his Library clean. Who dares to read when the Library has been swept clean? Sorry, to those who did not borrow his books. Where will you find them? Keep searching in Legacy street.
The talking drums are mourning, calling us to sway, shake our heads and shoulders, gnash our teeth, stomp on the ground, pay homage, sing funeral dirges befitting a man so well loved. He has left us. Professor Chris Lukorito Wanjala, my Mwalimu has crossed over.

Do not say that he abandoned the village. Had he not done everything in his sheer will to make a difference in society? Did he not build his Esimba and construct a Euphorbia fence? Did birds not sing and chirrup on the fence each new day as they picked the fattest worms? Did he not offer his bulls to be slaughtered at kinsmen’s funerals? Did he not fail to wince at the circumcizer’s knife? If you have nothing good to say about Lukorito, do not say it here!

He taught his children, raised his family and relatives. He went way beyond that and taught thousands. We celebrate him, yet we cry because we simply do not understand the mysteries of his journey. The pain he went through in his final moments and to those he leaves behind, those who cherished his faultless love, mentor-ship, family values. Him who never locked doors to those in need.

Mwalimu has shut his gate on us.

My mind swims in salty sad tears decades back to the Amphitheater at the University of Nairobi. Prof is young then. He endears the class to him by his permanent smile. Whereas the other lecturers are so serious, Prof has this warm gap between his teeth, which is rare for a man. When Pof. teaches everyone listens. I enjoyed being his student of Literature.

Although many students fell in love with him, it was more of a fatherly love. He took his mission to educate with seriousness and purpose.

Prof would never allow a student to buy soda or chicken. So this day in The Senior Common Room, Prof saw me paying for Chicken, Ugali and Sukuma wiki. He was several lines behind me. “”Stop! Stop!” He called in his gentle voice. “That Boom is for books, not chicken!’ Prof gets some notes from his old black leather wallet. That wallet has held money for many days. He pays, the gentleman that he is. My arm hangs paralyzed in the air before I shyly slip back my coins into my pocket. Oh Prof., was it not good to know you?

Professor wanted to read my Book. He sent me a message that he had a son close by. He was to give me his address so I could send him a copy. That never happened. And now Prof. will be buried while “God’s child on the run” is still on the run.

Thank you for finding time and space to engage me on Facebook and for wishing me well on my journey. If never back to my motherland, to the same destination as yours. Rest, Mwalimu rest. I shall come over too, when death calls and we shall read our books together. Thomas Mlanda shall critique and Dichol Evelyne Ongogo Okoth shall raise the bar in the ancestral land with her poems. The ancestors are pleased to see you. I salute you!