By Lemi Matau
Well, did you know that Kiraitu Murungi is a poet who happens to be a politician or vice versa?
Why not, if literature and politics, very like same-minded fraternal twin sisters, are fashioned to fight ignorance and poverty through light and knowledge? Kiraitu Murungi straddles / bestrides the two dominions, like a maestro.
Kiraitu is the bona fide author of “The Song of My Beloved” a collection of 70 or so poems, penned by him and him alone. Within the 120 pages of Kiraitu’s gem, you will discover poems with sassy titles such as: What do they Know, Peasants Lament, To Wole Soyinka, The prostitute, Uhuru Park, The Don, – among many.
The title of Kiraitu’s volume is as suggestive as an apt title could go. With themes transgressing all aspects of human affairs, Kiraitu’s song exposes Muringi’s meditative soul to public scrutiny. The work could reminisce ‘my beloved country, my beloved mother land, darling or – my beloved anything in between.
Cutting a close parallel to Okot P. Bitek’s style and closer home, Johnathan Kariara’s among the other Makerere “Africanism” luminaries, replete with stylistic devices and deep themes, vivid imagery, symbolisms, allusions, local colour and folk heroes and heroines, the book proves that Kiraitu is not poet of a lesser god.
Among the legends of Kiraitu works are Kamankura, Ngunyura — Kaura Oba Echau and Mau Mau generals, just to mention but a few. Abroad, Kiraitu evokes the styles of Emily Dickson the reclose of ‘Help! Help Day’ fame, and that of What Whitman, the renegade of ‘The Song of America”
As the celebrated Prof Kithaka Wamberia say of him, “Kiraitu is a very intelligent person and in another life, he could have been a university Don and nothing less. Kithaka says that Kiraitu could have gotten bitten by the literary bug way back in 1972, if not earlier, when both of them were students of Chuka Boys, and contributed to a school magazine”
What do they know? Had Baba Nkatha studied literature and not law the old boy of Alliance and alumnus of University of Nairobi and Ivy League’s Harvard, could, surely, be lecturing one Prof Wole Soyinka or Wa Thiong’o a thing or two on how to pen masterpieces.
Published in 2006 and dedicated to ‘all those in the spirit of Koomenjue refuse to worship the beast,’ The Song of my Beloved, forwarded by Prof. Wanjiku Mukabi Kabira, published by Mundia Muchiri of Oakland Media Services, the book’s blurb posits that Kiraitu’s poems ‘chronicles the many failed efforts to improve the lives of Kenyans, among others on the Africans soil,’ yadda yadda yadda. The author’s bio depicts Kiraitu as a ‘leading light in the struggle for the liberation of the oppressed, yadda yadda yadda.
The son of Angelica and Daniel is not only a poet but a prose writer of all seasons, reasons, missions, visions, and illusions. Among the many Kiraitu’s elements, a Lawyer, MP, Cabinet Minister, Senator, Meru County, Governor Meru County and with Kiraitu Murungi’s foundation a philanthropist.
What they know, Karaitu might return to poetry, that is when retires from active politics; if there will ever be such a time. President Mwai Kibaki turned to journalism after retirement and Kiraitu is not a Political Prisoner and the peasants of Meru will lament no more.