The most complete Prof Chris Wanjala Biography. Get to know all about his education, career including books and publications, family, death.

Who is Prof. Chris Wanjala?

He came to be known as “the father of literary criticism in the region”

Full name is Christopher Lukorito Wanjala.

Born 4th April, 1944, Chesamisi in Bungoma County.

Died 15th October 2018 at Moi Referral Hospital Eldoret, Kenya.

Prof. Chris Wanjala was a Kenyan Professor of Literature at the University of Nairobi, renowned author of poems and short stories, novelist, who taught and mentored a generation of Kenyan authors, poets and artists and awardee of the Elder of the Burning Spear (EBS) in 2012 for his contribution to Kenyan literature, culture and book development.

The late literary icon was a specialist in African written and oral literature. In his illustrious career as a scholar, teacher and researcher Prof Wanjala pursued various interests to fulfil his passion for: South African literature, West African literature, East African literature, Japanese literature translated in English, the Oral Literature of Kenya with research interest in Luyia, Maasai, Boran ,Gabbra, and Burji literatures, critical and theoretical perspectives of African literature, performing arts, popular culture and creative writing( all genres).

“To be a literary critic one has to start as a lover of literature, a student of literature and ultimately a practicing debater on books as they arrive and on issues literary as they emerge in the public domain.” 

Prof. Chris Wanjala

What’s in a name? Why Wanjala?

The Luhya, and indeed the Bukusu sub-nation to which the late Prof Chris Wanjala belongs to, have particular naming traditions. We look at what Bukusu naming traditions might tell us about the early days of Christopher Lukorito Wanjala.

From what we see, the name ‘Wanjala’ for the boy christened Christopher Lukorito is indeed a surname. This means that it is an inherited name rather than a given name. The difference this distinction makes is that were Wanjala had been the given name, then we would have been able to know more about the events surrounding the birth of Prof Chris Wanjala. This is because a baby boy born to the Bukusu during times of hunger (inzala) is often given the name Wanjala, meaning the one born during times of lack. When there’s drought leading to famine.

However, anyone who has grown up Luhya is well aware of the food security situation in western Kenya that time of the year when Prof Wanjala was born – In April – is often dire. At this time of the year, the granaries are dry as the food from the last harvest is almost, if not yet, over. While it is at this same time Western Kenya traditionally experiences her long rainfall, the reality is that there is little food to go around. This is is because the lands have just been tilled and the crops are therefore months from productive maturity; the situation at this time can get so desperate but never enough for one to be named Wanjala.

Prof Chris Wanjala Education 

Any curious mind would wonder, how did such a great mind come to be? Is it by nature? Or by nature? We can never be sure, but an excerpt from one of the may interviews the late prof gave offers some insight into what needed to be for he to become. In the interview, the interviewer Khainga O’Okwemba retells an experience shared by Wanjala that shaped the boy who became “the father of literary criticism in the region”. Prof Wanjala said: “We had an American Episcopal teacher called James Victor Warford. He started this notorious habit of creating a blank page in the library and he let the students go to the library and list the books they had read so that at the end of the day, the student who had the longest list would be rewarded. I was fascinated by that. I was encouraged to compete and I was always ahead of my contemporaries.” 

O- Levels: Bungoma High School

A- Levels: Friends School Kamusinga.

1971: B.A., Honors; Literature, Department of Literature, University of Nairobi

1978: Ph.D., East African Literature, University of Nairobi

Prof. Chris Wanjala Career

It will take quite the word count to detail a career that spanned over four decades, all at the very top if his trade, if not near the top. That said here key dates and positions held by Prof through his illustrious career.

University of Nairobi (2000-)

2000 – : Professor of Literature, Chairman, Staff Development and Seminars Committee, College of Education and External Studies, University of Nairobi

21st June 2011-: Chairman, Technical Committee for Drafting the Kenya Culture and National Heritage Policy, Department of Culture, Ministry of Culture, Gender, Sports and Social Services

24 February 2004- : Academic Director, Nakhatama Research and Literary Agency, a Consultancy Firm.

Egerton University (1990-2000)

7 May 1998: Appointed, at the 162nd Senate meeting, to Chair a Sub-Committee to investigate examination results of students whose failure rate in the University was 25% and above. Sub-committees findings were tabled, and adopted for further action.

1994 – 2000: Senate Representative, Egerton University Council

1991: Chairman, a Committee of enquiry into the establishment of a student Government at Egerton University.

1990 – 2000: Professor of Literature, Chairman, Department of Literature, Egerton University, Njoro

Created a Department of Literature in November 1991

Prepared B.A. and M.A. Literature syllabuses

University of Nairobi (1971-1990)

1982 – 1983: Acting Director, Institute of African Studies, University of Nairobi.

1985 – 1990: Associate Professor, Department of Literature, University of Nairobi.

1983 – 1985: Director, Institute of African Studies, University of Nairobi

1981 – 1985: Senior Research Fellow, Institute of African Studies, University of Nairobi.

1974 – 1981: Lecturer, Department of Literature, University of Nairobi

1973 – 1974: Assistant Lecturer, Department of Literature

1972 – 1973: A Part Time Lecturer with special tasks of teaching East African Literature and Modern Poetry

Prof Chris Wanjala The Teacher and Mentor

In the flowing tributes written following his demise, all in one accord talked profusely and superlatively of Prof Chris Wanjala the teacher. It can be argued that this great omwekesia brought up and mentored an entire generation of authors, poets, critics and other literary and artistic types whose works today shape the cultures and inform debate in Nairobi, Africa and beyond. The principal courses he taught at the University of Nairobi and Egerton University between 1971 – 2003 are as follows:

Undergraduate Courses Taught

East African Prose and Poetry

Modern African Poetry

Critical Issues in East African Literature

South African Literature

Swahili Literature (Prose and Drama)

Litt. 112: Creative Writing I (Fiction & Drama)

Litt. 124: Creative Writing II (Poetry)

Litt. 223: African Literature I (Poetry and Drama from East Africa)

Popular Literature of the World (Litt. 316)

English Literature I (Litt. 315)

Litt. 326; English Literature II

Litt. 327: The Daisaku Ikeda Project

Litt. 411: African Literature IV (Poetry from West and South Africa).

Japanese Literature (Litt. 416)

Litt. 421: African Literature V (Prose from West and South Africa).

West African poetry and Drama (RLT 404)

South African Poetry and Drama (RLT 405)

South African Prose (RLT 302)

East African Prose (RLT 301)

The Oral Literature of Kenya (RLT 203)

Theories and Concepts of Oral Literature (RLT 104)

Practical Criticism (RLT 102)

Graduate Courses Taught

Research and Methodology (GSI)

Criticism of African Literature (GSI) Critical and Theoretical Perspectives On African Literature(CLT 515).

Indicates courses which I created. I was the Course Writer for the East African

Literature: Prose and Poetry, Section A: Prose (BEL 102) published in 1987

Masters & Ph.D Students Supervised

External Examiner for Department of Literature, University of Dar es Salaam, 2010- .

Supervision of Kitata Makau‟s PhD thesis on the Novels of Achebe

Supervision of Mumia Osaaji’s PhD thesis of The Essay with reference to the Works of Ngugi wa Thiong’o,Chinua Achebe, and Taban Lo Liyong

Safia Nureldin, “Ngugi wa Thiong’o: A Study of His Artistic Vision and Craftsmanship: Ph.D., 1988 (awarded)

Fugich Wako, “Of Villains, Victims and Heroes: A Multi-dimensional Critical Appraisal of Folktales among the Boran” (switched to South Africa and was awarded.)

Wandera, S. P., “Taswira za Kijinsia Katika Hadithi za Abanyala” (Sexist Tendencies in Nyala Stories) (Awarded) M.A.

Ongoing supervision of the thesis on Bukusu Termite Harvest Songs by Khaoya Matere, Samuel Kimaru, “In Pursuit”, a novel, M.A. 1990 (awarded)

Wafula, Richard Makhanu, “The Use of Allegory in Shaaban Robert‟s Prose Works”, M.A.., 1990 (awarded)

Senorinah Wendoh, “Style in Nurrudin Farah’s Fiction, “M.A., 1990 (awarded)

Outta, George Odera, “Art and the Revolutionary Content of Ayi Kwei Armah‟s Novels (with special reference to Two Thousand Season”, M.A., 1990 (awarded)

Ntalindwa, Raymond, “Images and Symbols in Nurrudin Farah‟s Novels”, M.A., 1988 (awarded)

Oloo, Nicholas, “Portrait of Struggle: Some Aspects of the Novels of Alex la Guma”, M.A. 1987 (awarded)

Professional Affiliations

Chairman National Book Development Council of Kenya( 2007-)

Member, Association of Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (ACLALS)

Member and founding Secretary General, Writers Association of Kenya (WAK) in 1971.

Chairman, Kenya Non-Fiction Authors Association (KENFAA) (2001-)

Treasurer, KOPIKEN(2001-2005)

Member, Kenya National Book Development Council(1997-)

Member and founding Chairman, Kenya Oral Literature Association (KOLA) from 1986- 2007)

Chair, Regional Centre for Urgent Anthropological Research, Kenya, based at the Department of Literature, Egerton University – Chapter of Commission on Urgent Anthropological Research, Vienna, Austria.1986-2000

Member, (from 23rd July 1986) The Kenya National Academy of Sciences

Grants, Awards & Recognition

FORD Foundation to attend an ACLALS Conference at the U B C, in Vancouver Canada, August 2007.

November 1971 one of the three students to hold University of Nairobi scholarships to study East African Oral and Written Literatures at the Graduate level.

Awarded Japan Foundation Fellowship (July 2- September 30, 1983). Accepted as a Visiting Scholar at Meiji University, Japan, under the regulation for the Acceptance of Foreign researchers at Meiji University.

In 1984 won a grant from the National Council for Science and Technology to study the Cultures of Western Kenya under the topic “Regional Reflexions in the Cultures of Kenya”

In 1990 won a grant from UNESCO, Paris, to conduct studies towards the Definition of the Non- Physical Cultural Heritage of Africa

Invited to Japan to inaugurate the Soka University Africa Institute in July 1990 by the President of the University. Received a Soka Education Award in Tokyo, Japan, on the 13th of July, 1989, from the hands of President Daisaku Ikeda, SGI International

Recipient the Culture Award of the Institute of Oriental Philosophy in Nairobi, August 15, 1986, with the words: “In praise of your great contribution to scholarly research and your wide-ranging active participation in the movement for peace and culture aiming toward the twenty-first century of life- and to encourage your continued activities”.

Received the Literary Critic of the Year Award for 1986 from the Organizing Committee, Windy Entertainment Services for my contributions on literature and culture in the popular press in Kenya and the East African Region.

1991 received a research grant from Egerton University to write the biography of Lord Egerton of Tatton (1874-1958)

1995 received a grant from the office of the Vice-Chancellor, Egerton University to do articles for Mass Media

Research Work

Creative Writing and Publishing in Kenya’s Minority Languages: International Fund for Cultural Diversity. Investing in Creativity Transforming Societies.


The Role of the Bomas of Kenya-(A cultural centre)in the promotion of tourism in Kenya 1996 – Maurice Egerton 1874-1958: The Man and His Firms

1983 – 1985 As Director, Institute of African Studies, University of Nairobi. I was also the

Director of the District Socio-Cultural Profiles Project jointly executed by the institute of African Studies and the Ministry of Finance and Planning. I coordinated multidisciplinary researchers from College of Humanities and Social

Sciences, Health Sciences, Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences, Architecture and Engineering, Biological and Physical Sciences, University of Nairobi for the Project.

Was District Team Leader for KAJIADO District Socio-Cultural Profile Project, NAROK and MARSABIT. Reports on the districts are available at the Institute of African Studies, University of Nairobi, and the Ministry of Finance, Treasury House, Nairobi, Kenya.

1981- Present Project on Regional Reflections in the Cultures of Kenya.

Prof Chris Wanjala Publications

A renown author, the most extensive of his life’s work is his gift with the pen


Mutbusi: Just Above Mount Elgon (Autobiography-Ongoing at time of death)

Ingwe: Oral Literature of the Abaluhya: (Forthcoming)

Faces at Crossroads, Edited, Nairobi. East African Literature Bureau: 1971

Standpoints on African Literature, Edited, Intro. Angus Calder Nairobi. East African Literature Bureau: 1973

Singing with the Night, Edited, Nairobi. East African Bureau: 1975

The Debtors, Edited, Nairobi. East African Literature Bureau: 1977

Attachments to the Sun, Edited with Dougal Blackburn, Alfred Horsfall et. al., London. Edward Arnold: 1978.

East African Prose and Poetry, Authored, Nairobi. Nairobi University Press: 1987.

Joliso. East African Journal of Literature and Society, Edited, Nairobi. East African Literature Bureau. Vol. I, 1, 2, 1973; Vol. II, 1, 2, 1974.

The Season of Harvest, Authored, Nairobi. Kenya Literature Bureau: 1978

Editor in Chief, Egerton Journal

For Home and Freedom, Authored, Nairobi. Kenya Literature Bureau: 1980

The Egerton Companion to East African Drama (Completed but not published).

Notes of the Harvest Season (Under preparation).

Notes on Grace Ogot’s Land Without Thunder for O-levels, Authored, Nairobi. Nyange Publishers: 1982.

Articles & Book Chapters

“Lewis Nkosi’s Early Literary Criticism,” in Still Beating the Drum: Critical Perspectives on Lewis Nkosi, Edited by Lindy Stiebel and Liz Gunner, Amsterdam 2005,pp.27ff.

“East African Autobiographies and Biographies”, “Drama in East Africa”, and Anthologies – East Africa”, in The Companion to African Literatures in English, James Currey Publishers/Indiana University Press (Forthcoming: Early 1999).

“Discovering New East African Poets”, Busara II, 2 (1969), 43-45. An extended version of it in E. Gachukia and S. K. Akivaga (eds.), Teaching of African Literature in Schools, Nairobi [Kenya Literature Bureau, 1978], 77 – 90

“The Growth of a Literary Tradition”, in Criticism and Ideology, edited by Kirsten Petersen [Uppsala: The Institute of African Studies, 1988] 67-80; also in Journal of Eastern African Research and Development (1981), 2.

“Culture and the Nation State”, in Bottlenecks to National Identity: Ethnic Co-operation Towards Nation Building, Edited by Jude J. Ongong‟a and Kenneth Gray [Nairobi Masaki Publishers, 1989], 9 – 16

“Literature in our Time and the University”, in Trends in and Future of University in Kenya in the 1990s and Beyond, Edited by Wanjala-Kerre and Kenneth Gray [Nairobi: Masaki, Publishers, 1990].

In 1985, collaborated with the Italian Cultural Institute in Nairobi on the issue of the Magazine

Sinchron, dedicated to Africa and Kenya in particular, published by Agip Petroli of Milan Italy.

“La Litteratura Dopo L‟Independenza”, in Synchron Numero 5 – Anno 4 December 1985, 53 – 65.

“Twilight Years Are the Years of Counsel and Wisdom”, in History and Culture in Western Kenya: The People of Bungoma District Through Time, Edited by Simiyu Wandibba [Nairobi:

G.S. Were Press, 1982] 78-90.

“Imaginative Writing Since Independence: The East African Experience”, in The East African Experience: Essays on English and Swahili Literature Second Janheinz Jahn Symposium, Edited by Ulla Schild [Sonderdruck: Dietrich Reiner Verlag, 1980] 9-24.

“Kenya and Japan in the 21st Century” Special Contribution in Mikono Nairobi (1990) First Issue, 1-5. Interviewed in the same issue 25-26.

“The East African Writer and Society”, in Kenya Historical Review (1974), II, 1, 22-27.

“The New Jerusalem in African Literature and Literary Criticism”, Literature Review Edinburgh, Scotland (1980) 25, 26.

“The East African Writer and Society”, in Kenya Historical Review (1974) II, 1, 22-27.

“The New Jerusalem in African Literature and Literary Criticism”, Literary Review Edinburgh, Scotland (1980) 25, 26.

“Culture, the African Writer and Alienation”, in Maktaba: Official Journal of the Kenya Library Association (1977) IV, I, 22-27

“Culture Events in East and Central Africa”, Busara (1973), V, 2, 70-76

“Theatre and Politics”, African Perspectives, (September – October 1977), I, 30-38.

“Cesaire’s Responsibilities as a Poet”, in Thought and Practice: The Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya (1974), I, 1, 59-72

“Fossilized Black Martyrs: A Study of In the Fog of the Season’s End, a novel by the late Alex La Guma”, in Teaching of African Literature in Schools, [eds.] E. Gachukia and S. K. Akivage [Nairobi: Kenya Literature Bureau, 1978], 201-215.

“Of Wealth, Marriage and Inheritance (A Working Paper, Unpublished)

“Regional Reflections in the Literature of Kenya”, in Adjoining Cultures as Reflected in Literature and Language, [eds.] John X. Evans and Peter Horwath [Phoenix: Arizona State University Press, 1983] 173 ff.

“African Literature and the Tyranny of Change”, in Language and Literature, Edited by Sandra Nandan (Suva, Fiji: The University of South Pacific Press, 1983), 336-352.

“The Major Trends and Events in East African Drama and Theatre”, Unpublished.

Reviews (Since 1969)

Numerous reviews in the daily and Sunday Papers, weekly magazines, radio and television eg. “A Re-union of Black Scholars and Artists”, in Umma 6:4-5, 7, 11-12 (on FESTAC ‟77), The Varying Interests of Kenyan Writers” Sunday Nation 13 October 1977, p.12.

“In Memory of Elijah Masinde: A Prophet of Our Times”, Kenya Times 14.6.87

“Review, Poems of Nature and Faith, by J. S. Mbiti and The Abandoned Hut by Joseph Buruga in Busara (1969) II, 3, 43-45.

Book Review. Poems, Ashes and Ambers by Hossenjee Edoo and Anand Mulloo, Port Louis (Nice Printing) 1974 44pp.

“Review, R. N. Gecau, Kikuyu Folktales, in East Africa Journal (1971) VIII, 8, 40.

“Lonely and Diminished Men”, A Review of Voices in the Dark by Leonard Kibera in Busara (1970) III, 1, 56-59.

“Life’s Tense Irony”, A Review of Tensions: Poems by Richard C. Ntiru, Dhana (1971) 1, 1, 56-58.

“Appropriate Style and Technical Competence”, Review of Introduction to the African Novel in Dhana (1972) 2, 1, Reprinted in The Season of Harvest (1978)

“A Bold Fearless Account of Kenya’s Recent Political History”, A Review of Joseph Karimi and Philip Ochieng, The Kenyatta Succession, Nairobi (Transafrica) 1980, 195 pages, in Nairobi Times.

“East and Central Africa”, Journal of Commonwealth Literature 8, 2:14-22

“The Tabanic Genre”, in Standpoints on African Literature, 1973, Nairobi (EALB) pp. 86-95

“A Persecuted Poet from the Far East”, A Review of Cry the People and Other Poems, by Kim Chi Ha in Maktaba (1976) III, 2, 67-72

“The Old and the New Do Not Match”, A Review of Obi by John Munonye, in Busara (1970)

III, 1, 56-59

“The Silenced Satirist”, The Guardian, London, 6 March 1978.

The Mission of Writing and Humanist Commitment”. A Review of Critical Perspectives on

Amos Tutuola, Edited by Bernth Lindfors, in Maktaba (1976) III, 2, 145-148. “What is Literature to Kenyan Historians?” Weekly Review 7 Sept 1984, pp. 17.

“Mysterious Feminine Power Looms Over Male Innocence”, A Review of Ripples in the Pool, A Novel by Rebeka Njau in Maktaba (1976) III, 1, 149-150

“Literary Scholarship and its traditions in Kenya”. In this article we show that criticism of Kenyan Literature did not start with the analysis of novels, plays, short stories, and essays, written in English. It includes the story of the rich body of literature available in oral traditions and in Kenya’s indigenous languages. The article first appeared in the Daily Nation of Saturday, September 2, 1989, page 12.

“Portrait of a Writer…. A Pioneer in the Literary Field”, Sunday Nation 18 January (1978) p, 4. “A Lesson from the Soviet Union”, A Review of Chingiz Aitomotov’s novel Farewell Gul’Sary in Busara (1971) II, 3, 44-49

“Ngugi and the National Language Issues”, Sunday Nation 5 August 1979

“Reaching Out to God without Religion”, A Review of Understanding God the Modern Way by Mohamed Mbwana. Found in a bound typescript, Institute of African Studies Library, University of Nairobi, Kenya, 1981.

“Where Is Ngugi”, in Black Phoenix, 2, 23-24

“Overseas Studies and Conferences. A Response to Professor Satoru Tsuchiya’s Essay „Modern East African Literature from Uhuru to Harambee‟, World Literature Today: A Literary Quarterly of the University of Oklahoma: Autumn 1978, Review bound in the Institute of African Studies Library, University of Nairobi, 1891.

“1977: The Season of Literary Harvest”, Sunday Nation 1 January 1978 [on FESTAC 77 and Ngugi’s Publication of Petals of Blood].

“A Literary Supplement”, Joliso 1, 2:1-10

“Literature and Society: A View on Approach”, Busara 5, 2:70-76 Reprinted as “Literature and Society: What approach” in Wanjala, The Season of Harvest (1978)

“East and Central Africa”, Journal of Commonwealth Literature 1975; 10, 2:16-24

“Alex la Guma: The Man’s Place in African Writing”, Kenya Times Features 21.5.86 Chairman’s Report, Regional Centre for Urgent Anthropological Research in Kenya, in

Commission on Urgent Anthropological Research Newsletter No. 11, Wien 1993-1994 pp. 8-9. “Dilemma that Ngugi Faced (on Choosing Publisher”, Sunday Nation 31 July 1977.

“In Search of a Revolutionary Hero: A Review Essay, “Kenya Historical Review 1977, 5, 2:389- 95

Review of: Bernth Lindfors (ed.) Critical Perspectives of Amos Tutuola. Washington DC Three Continent Press 1975, 318 pages. Ezekiel Mphahlele, Voices in the Whirlwind, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania Publishing House/Macmillan 1972, 215 pages; Chinua Achebe, Morning Yet On Creation Day, London Heinemann 1975, 103 pages, Maktaba (1976) III, 2, 145-148

“Poets with Borrowed Overcoats Can Still Retain their Personality; A Brief Study on Reed in the Tide, Poems by John Pepper Clark, London Londman 1968”, in Busara (1974) VI, I, 39-42

“New Novel by Ngugi. Keeps Him at Top”, Standard 15 Jul 1977, 12 Review of Petals of Blood

Invited Papers, National and International Conference, Since 1970

“ Culture and Prosperity,” Bungoma Cultural Festival, Sang’alo Institute, 29th December 2015.

“Cultural Events in East and Central Africa: Are they leveraging Development?” Paper Presented at the Regional Summit on Women and Youth in the Promotion of Cultural Security and Development in Africa

Kwani? Literary Festival, Nairobi, 11-28,2006.International Conference Centre, Olesugun Obasanjo ,Presidential Library, Abeokuta, Nigeria, March 4-5, 2013.

2005 “Central and East Africa – A Personal View,” with Dr. Alex Nelungo Wanjala, Journal of

Commonwealth Literature, Volume 40($)

“New Humanism in Africa- Towards the Twenty-First Century”, A Paper presented at the Western Literary Conference on the Search of a New World Culture for the 21st Century, Grand Hyatt Hotel, Washington D.C., June 14-16, 1997.

Organized a Conference, “The Teaching of Literature in the University in East Africa”, 8 – 10 May 1997, FASS Boardroom, Njoro Campus, Egerton University, Njoro.

“Introducing New Knowledge in University Programmes”, Egerton University and ICRC Joint Consultative and Programme Seminar on the teaching of the IHL, 3 June 1998, Thomson’s Fall Lodge, Nyahururu, Kenya.

Participated in a workshop on Media and the Performing Arts, Facilitated by Mbalamwezi Players Society and the British Council, The British Council Auditorium, September 1997.

Attended the Proposal Writing Workshop at the Agricultural Resources Centre (ARC), Egerton University which was a part of the Agricultural Management Programme, 15-17 June 1994.

With Kivuto Ndeti, Kenneth R. Gray, as member of the National Planning Committee Organized, “The Second Scramble for Africa”, The Third PWPA Continental Conference, Nairobi Serena Hotel, 2-6 May 1990.

“Kenya’s Books”, Paper read at the Salone De Libro, Torino, Italy, and May 1989.

“The Impact of a Multi-Cultural Society in the Economy: A Kenyan Case, “Paper read at the conference on “Towards a Global Economy: A Cross-Cultural Approach”, AISEC, Kenya- Italy, Pan-African Hotel, Kenya, July 1989.

“The Crisis Between Indigenous Culture and Western Education”, Part of the Preparatory Discussion of the National Paper for the Bangkok meeting on culture, Friday June, 16, 1989 Kenya Institute of Education, Nairobi, Kenya.

“How to Evaluate Our Art”, Against Bearded Africans, Kenya Times 8 May 1985. P.13.

“Karen, Blixen Out of Africa and the Issue of Race Relations”, Against Bearded Africans, Kenya Times 15.5.85 p.12.

“The Changing Traditions of Literature in Kenya and Italy”, a lecture which was delivered at the University of Nairobi on Wednesday 29th October 1986, at 5.p.m., during the Italian-Kenyan Week of Lectures (26th –30th October 1986). The aim of the lecture was to outline the literary traditions in Italian and Kenyan Literature, and to see how the study of them can be mutually illuminating.

“Words of Passive Happiness: Popular Literature in East Africa”, Paper delivered at the British Council Auditorium and Subsequently at Kilimo Hall, Egerton University, 1991. Paper

developed from, “Kenyan Popular Literature”, Address to Kenya Press Club, City Hall, Nairobi, 15 June 1976. Reported in Press as “Lecture Hits At Books Ban, “The Standard 16.6.76; “What they Want in Easy Sex”, Daily Nation 16.6.76;

“The Portraits of Black Nationalists”, Seminar Paper No. 1, September, 1985, Department Of Literature, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya.

“Research Priorities in Literature”, Seminar on “Research Priority in Social Sciences, “Organized by the National Council of Science and Technology, Silver Springs Hotel, Nairobi, June 24-25, 1986.

“Literature, Material Culture, and Technology, “Paper presented at the Seminar On Material Culture, Mombasa, Kenya, July, 1982.

“The Growth of a Literary Culture”, Paper read at the First Symposium on Education and Culture organized by the College of Education and External Studies, Kikuyu Campus, University of Nairobi, October, 16-21, 1989. Offshoot of “The Growth of a Literary Tradition in East Africa”, Journal of Eastern African Research and Development, 1981, 122-40.

“Culture and Development Since [Kenya’s] Uhuru, “Lecture delivered as part of the Silver Jubilee Anniversary Celebrations, Menengai Hall, Nakuru, Kenya, December 8, 1989.

Chris Wanjala and Atieno-Odhiambo, “Introduction to the Kenya Literary Experience”, Book Exhibition Booklet for FESTAC ‟77.

“Literature in Our Time and the University”, Paper presented at the Professor’s World Peace Academy [P.W.P.A] Conference on “Trends and Future of University Education in Kenya in the 1990s and Beyond”, New Stanley Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya, December 8-9, 1989.

“Literature and Humanism”, and “Ikeda Prose and Poetry”, Kenya Oral Literature Association (KOLA) Seminar on Comparative Literature, Jomo Kenyatta Memorial Library, Nairobi, Kenya, November, 8-11, 1989.

“The Growth of a Literary Tradition”, Paper read at the Second African Writers‟ conference in Stockholm (Uppsala, Sweden), April, 16-19, 1986

“Workshop for Chairmen of Department”, University of Nairobi, Silver Springs Hotel, Nairobi,

Kenya, July 27, 1989

“Culture and the Nation State”, Paper presented at the Third PWPA Eastern African Regional Conference, Mombasa, Kenya, September 15-18, 1988. The Paper appears in Bottlenecks to National Identity (Nairobi: Professors World Peace Academy, 1989), 9-16, including the Rapporteur’s Report by Prof. A. Byaruhanga Akiiki.

“Myth in Kenyan Literature”, Institute of African Studies, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya, Paper No. 12, 1982.

“Ali Mazrui: A Pawn in the Hands of Young Critics: The Writer and Society in Africa”, January 1980, University of Nairobi, Institute of African Studies, Paper No. 130.

“Culture and Development”, from the fulcrum of my lectures, as shown by my Address at the Official Opening of the Seminar on Culture and Development in Nairobi on the 21st of October 1986 at the Kenya Cultural Centre.

“The Stabilizing Role of Bakitwika in the Politics of Bungoma District”, A Paper Prepared for

Nakhatama Research and Literary Agency (NAKR 3/96).

“Two Kinds of Artists in Bungoma Cultural Life”, Paper read at the Bantu Cultural Zone Seminar at Silver Springs Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya, October 18-23, 1982

“The XVth International Congress, Metropolitan Phoenix, Scottsdale, Phoenix Arizona, Organized by International Federation for Modern Languages and Literature, August, 29 – September 1981.

“The Development of Literary Studies in the University in Our Time”, Discussion Paper on Literature and Culture, No. 1. Institute of African Studies, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya

“The Traditional Artist in Society”, Discussion Paper on Literature and Culture No. 2, Institute of African Studies, University of Nairobi, Kenya, 1982.

“The Anti-Social Characters: A Study in the Literature of Western Kenya”, Paper No. 3, Institute of African Studies, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya, 1982.

“Father and Children: A Study in the Literature of Western Kenya”, Paper No. 6, Institute of African Studies, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya, 1982

“Inter-Regional Seminar (Category VII) on Action-Oriented Research to Highlight Women’s Economic Contribution and the Decision-Making Roles, “Nairobi, Kenya, September 8-12, 1986

[With David Parkin, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) England] organized the International Seminar on the Transformation of African Marriage. Subtitle of Seminar: “Customary Models in a New Setting”. Seminar organized jointly between Institute of African Studies, University of Nairobi and the International African Institute, London, U.K. Silver Springs Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya, September, 10-12, 1984

“East Africa’s Traditional Cultural Expression”, Seminar Paper No. 167, Nairobi, Institute of African Studies, University of Nairobi, 15 January 1985, Mimeo. 21 pp.

Organized, with UNESCO, Young Writers and Illustrators Workshop, February, 6-10, 1984

Hiroshima International Conference of Asian Writers, Hiroshima, Japan, July 26, August, September 1, 1983.

Bantu Cultural Zone Seminar, Nairobi, Kenya October, 18 –23, 1982.

Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (ACLALS) meeting, Kampala, Uganda, December 1973-January, 1974

Meetings of the Permanent Bureau of the Afro-Asian Writers Union, Moscow, June 1974 and June 1975. Attended as Secretary General, Writers Association of Kenya.

“Windows in Bungoma Politics”, A Paper prepared for Nakhatama Research and Literary Agency NAKR 1/96.

“The Plight of Childless Mothers in Africa”, A Paper prepared for Nakhatama Research and Literary Agency NAKR 4/96

The East African Inspiration, A Proposal for an Intellectual Magazine, prepared with T.R.

Odhiambo 1984-1985, later launched as Initiatives

“Civic and Social Aspects of University”, A public lecture delivered at the University as A Part of the Orientation Period, September 1986.

Editor’s Symposium organized by the Permanent Bureau of the Afro-Asian Writers Union, Beirut, Lebanon, December, 1975

Teaching of African Literature in Schools, September 1974 and August, 1980, Nairobi School, Nairobi, Kenya

Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (ACLALS) Conference on Canadian Literature, University of Leeds, U.K., September, 1975

Book Exhibition, Uhuru Park, Nairobi, Kenya, Organized by the Text Book Centre, August, 1976.

“Imaginative Writing Since Independence: The East African Experience”, In Ulla Schild, ed, The East African Experience: Essays on English and Swahili Literature. Second International Janheiz Jahn Symposium on Modern East African Literature and Its Audience, Maiz,

Frankfurt-Main, West Germany, April 23-25, 1977, Mainzer African Studies, 4 Berlin, Dietrich Reimer Verlag , Colloquium, FESTAC (Festival of African Cultures) February 1977, Lagos Nigeria.

Organized Writes Workshop under the theme “Writing for the Child”, for East African Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (EAACLALS) in Nairobi, Kenya, April 1979

32nd Frankfurt Book Fair, Germany, October 8-13, 1980

Organized Writers Workshop at the PAA YA PAA Art Galley, Nairobi, Kenya, April 18-20, 1980

Assistant Rapporteur to the Third Sub-Regional Meeting of the Permanent Secretaries Responsible for Culture in East, Central and Southern Africa, Nairobi, Kenya, October 19-23, 1982, Silver Springs Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya.

“Decolonizing African Literature”, Paper read at a conference on “Africa in the Classroom”, Centre for African Studies. University of Illinois at Urbana-Campaign, April 9-10, 1992 “Babukusu; Their Wars and Woes, “Paper Read at “Writing The Luo”, Humanities Workshop, Centre for Cultural studies, Rice University Houston, Texas, U.S.A. 14-16 May, 1992

“The Management of Egerton University and the Chronic Closures that Bedeviled It: To the Sub-Committee of Council, Njoro, 18th January 1997”.

“Ulli Beier’s Men”, Unpublished.

“Women, Culture and Democracy”, Unpublished

Literature, Urban Life and Culture Change in East and South Africa: Cases of Charles Mangua‟s Son of Woman, Leonard Kibera‟s Voices in the Dark and E‟skia Mphahlele‟s Down Second Avenue ”, Unpublished.

Marxism in African Literature: Cases of Alex La Guma, Ngugi wa Thiong‟o, and Sembene Ousmane By Chris Lukorito Wanjala and Richard Makhanu Wafula(Unpublished)

The Black and African Experience in Literature by Chris L Wanjala and Monica Mweseli (Unpublished).

The African Writer and Society by Chris Lukorito Wanjala and Mumia Osaaji.

New Visions in Contemporary African Literature by Chris Lukorito Wanjala and Alex Nelungo Wanjala.(Unpublished).

Theoretical and Critical Perspectives On African Literature by Chris L Wanjala and Helen O A Mwanzi(Unpublished)

Destruction of the Old homestead by Chris L Wanjala and Monica Mweseli (Unpublished) Uses of Literacy in East Africa by Chris L Wanjala, R M Wafula(Unpublished)

Taban lo Liyong‟s Poetry of Ideas by Chris L Wanjala, Chesi, and B O Odhoji(Unpublished). The identity Crisis in Ngugi‟s Early Novels by Chris K Wanjala(Unpublished)

Mbugua Ng’ang’a and the Art of Fiction by Chris L Wanjala and Faith Kitata(Unpublished).

Leadership in Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s A Grain of What and Arthur Gakwandi‟s Kosiya Kifefe by Chris L Wanjala and Gabriel kimutai Yego(Unpublished).

Prof Chris Wanjala Public Lectures On Literature, Culture, Politics, Development (1971 –)

The Growth of a Literary Tradition in East Africa, Inaugural Lecture Delivered at the 8- 4-4 Building, from 3.40 p m Main Campus, University of Nairobi, Thursday 19th June 2003.

Kumuse Texts:Paper Presented at a conference on “The Authority of Memory in Narrative,” I S F N R July 2000,Literature Department, Kenyatta University, Kenya.

“The Kenyatta Legacy”, A Public lecture delivered at the FASS Theatre 2, FASS Complex, Egerton University, 19 October 1998

“Promoting African Writers in the New Age”, Lecture at a Literary Forum, 15 October 1997, Mzizi Arts Center, Sonalux House, Moi Avenue, Nairobi

Human Rights and The Writer‟s Freedom , a paper presented at a conference on “ Development in Kenya since 1960s,” organized by the Kenya Historical Association at Asis Hotel,Eldoret, Kenya 29-30, 1995

I give lectures in Secondary Schools, High Schools,Teachers‟ Training Colleges, in Kenya.

Lectures to Senior Civil Servants at the Kenya Institute of Administration Kabete, Nairobi, Kenya

Soka Gakkai International, Kobe Japan (July 1983)

“East African Literature in its Cultural Background”, A Public Lecture Delivered at the University of Nairobi, ED II, 27 March 1979

Lectures at the Goethe Institute, Nairobi, 1973-1991

Asahi Hall, Tokyo, Japan, July 18, 1983

International Christian University, Japan, July, 1983

Soka University, Hochioji, Tokyo, Japan, July, 1990

Tenuri, Japan (July, 1989) – Lecture to Japanese parents sending their children to Kenya

International Indian Institute (III), Bombary, India, March 1990

American Students‟ Summer Programs in Kenya (in Nairobi, Kenya)

1995 Lectures on Creative Writing at the Praire Institute, Nakuru, Kenya

1996 Literary Biographies of East African Literary intellectuals.

Prof Chris Wanjala Family

Sarah, his second wife, met Wanjala more than 49 years ago, as college lovers at the University of Nairobi. Wanjala knew his third wife, Ruth, for more than 39 years.

Professor was husband of the late Everlyn Nasimiyu, Sarah Naswa and Ruth Kibiti. Father of the late Rose, Levi, Oliver, Givern, Christian, David, Michael, Dr. Alex, Catherine, Caroline Rehema, Emmanuel, Barnaby, Millie, Martin, Gavin, Andrew, Nelson and Timothy. Father-in-law of Hellen, Esther, Elizabeth, Anthea, Mary, Annabelle, Neto, Nathan, Cynthia, Rose and Lilian. Uncle and Grandfather of many.

Prof Chris Wanjala Death

Renowned author and University of Nairobi (UoN) literature professor passed on at age 75 at 4am on Monday 15th October 2018 while receiving treatment at a hospital in Eldoret, said to be Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital.  

The events leading to his death were told to Kenyan media by his son Dr Alex Wanjala, himself a literature lecturer at UoN like his father.

“He had attended a funeral at the weekend in his ancestral home village of Chesamisi in Bungoma County..After the funeral, he went back to his home in Lwandeti village and he was taken ill at home. He was dashed to a hospital in Eldoret where they gave some emergency treatment and he was quite stable throughout the day. And the doctors said they would keep him there for two or three days as they carried out tests…But on Sunday night, he was suffering extreme chest pains and stomach pains. He finally succumbed at about 4am.”


Prof Chris Wanjala had been battling an unknown illness in the months to his death. In 2014, he had been diagnosed with lymphatic cancer but was cured after chemotherapy.

A local daily reported that in May of 2018 the late professor started getting sick again but specialists were unable to pinpoint what he was ailing from. A postmortem revealed that he had been suffering from diabetes, which caused his essential organs to fail.

He was buried in his home in Mabuye Village, Luandeti Location, Kakamega county on 27th October 2018.

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