The late playwright, Prof Francis Imbuga, is described as a true gift to humanity by his family, colleagues and friends in a just-published biography that gives a glimpse into what shaped this accomplished literary icon.
The Cherished Footprints, written by Masinde Kusimba and launched on October 28 at the Kenyatta University, where Prof Imbuga was one of the pioneer lecturers, chronicles his love for storytelling and drama, tragedy and challenges, his contributions to the arts as well as his generous and kind nature.
The biography details key figures in Prof Imbuga’s life such as his father, a World War II veteran, and his mother, whose death left lasting scars.
We also read about the hardships that the professor and his family went through during the colonial rule in Kenya.
His was not an easy childhood and these difficulties explain the late professor’s empathetic and giving nature. He went out of his way to help those less fortunate than himself, and he had no airs about him.
Prof Imbuga married Mabel, a scientist, in 1973. He supported and encouraged her to apply for the position of vice chancellor of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. She made history when she became the first woman VC of the university in 2008.
The accomplished academician also lived and worked in Rwanda after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. He contributed to the formation of education policies specifically dealing with admission criteria and national curriculum.
The Cherished Footprints is a worthy read and is rich in history not only of the professor’s life and career but also of life under colonial and dictatorial rulers.
The book gives insight into where Prof Imbuga got his creativity and love of the arts from. It portrays a man dedicated to his craft, and who challenged oppression and dictatorial rule using his smarts and ability to write satire well.
In the words of his former student Fred Matiangi, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Interior, the professor left “footprints that are large and visible in the eyes, hearts and mind of many”.