Memorial service for 'hero of the arts'

Gugu Sibiya

Gugu Sibiya

Discerning arts aficionados, friends and colleagues of the late Ngugi wa Mirii will meet to remember this distinguished son of the soil today at 5:30pm.

A respected and highly acclaimed African artist, and cultural and social activist, wa Mirii died tragically two weeks ago. He will be remembered at the Windybrow Theatre, corner of Pietersen and Nugget streets, Joubert Park.

Wa Mirii was a renowned Kenyan author and academic. He is well-known for his play, I Will Marry When I Want, which he co-authored with fellow Gikuyu writer Ngugi wa Thiong'o.

He died in Harare, Zimbabwe, in a road accident on Saturday April 26.

Wa Mirii was educated at Ngenia Secondary School and from 1972 to 1974 worked for Kenya Posts and Telecommunications. He did a diploma in adult education at the Institute of Adult Studies, Nairobi University, and then joined the Institute of Development Studies.

While working for the institute he became involved with peasants and workers in community development at Kamiriithu, Limuru.

Wa Mirii went into self-imposed exile in Zimbabwe in the 1980s following a crackdown on political dissent by then president Daniel arap Moi.

He was one of the leading lights of community theatre in Kenya and the government made his life very difficult.

He left Kenya with playwright Ngugi wa Thiong'o, who is now based in the United States.

The death of Wa Mirii is a blow to the local Kenyan literary scene.

According to Kenyan family friend Kariuki Gechuhi, Wa Mirii's car rammed into a lorry at the intersection of Enterprise and Glenara roads in Highlands, Harare.

Gechuhi said: "He died on the spot after his car rammed into a stationary lorry. The funeral was held at his home at 53 Harare Drive in Greendale."

Wa Mirii's friend, comrade and organiser of the memorial service, Raks Seakhoa, said: "Comrade wa Mirii was an excellent and hard working artistic and cultural revolutionary scholar.

"We've lost an irreplaceable hero of the arts."

Wa Mirii leaves behind his wife, Wairimu, two sons and two daughters.