By Our Reporter
At 85, retired teacher and education officer Stephen Mabea has thrown a challenge to Kenyans by publishing his biography.
Titled ‘Beaten Odds’, the biography was launched Wednesday evening at the Kisii Cultural Center in Kisii Town.
Mabea co-authored the book with Joshua Araka, a journalist, creative writer and upcoming biographer.
Mabea had an illustrious career as a teacher, headteacher, education administrator, community leader and mobilizer.
He hails from Borabu, Nyamira County.
Kisii University Vice Chancellor Prof John who officiated during the unveiling of the book decried declining scholarship among Kenyan youth.
He said the literary prospects of the country look bleak if the situation persists.
Akama accused university and college students of using much of their precious time consuming pornography and other unedifying social media content at the expense of serious book learning.
“The situation is getting acute with each passing year, painting a gloomy intellectual picture for posterity,” he said.
Prof Akama urged for a return to the old good book days when students immersed themselves in books to acquire knowledge through study.
He said social media may have come at the right time but it has slowly edged out that spirit of book reading that was existing among our young people.
The VC said declining book learning had slowly confirmed the certitude of Sudanese author Taban Liyong’s pre-independency prophecy of East African becoming a literary desert.
He said it was unfortunate that some students graduating from universities nowadays can barely write a good essay.
Mabea’s autobiography delves into his life as a teacher who in his time was the first T1 trainee from his Nyabisimba village in Nyamira County.
He was at one time turned away from Kisiii School because according to the then school principal, he was overage to join the institution for secondary school education.
He had to join Kabianga Teachers College where he did teaching before he was posted to his former primary school Motagara.
He was the first African to head Kisii Primary School which initially admitted Indian and European learners only.
Prof Akama said even with the unveiling of the book, few and fewer scholars in the country were penning new books.
He said it was a serious concern that can only be addressed by a change of mind and heart among scholars who should start writing books even for posterity’s sake.
On his part, Mabea challenged young people to write story books for young readers.
He said writing books requires serious intellectual engagement.
Araka who has penned three books himself; Peppered Path, Chronicles of the Idler and Korondo-panic, said even with the permeating influences of the social media, Kenyan youth can rise up and seize the moment to grow their intellect with book learning.
Among those present were Mabea’s former pupils including his son Zablon, former Lands Commissioner, Sarah Omache who is the Health Executive of Kisii County Government and Francis Rosana, a retired senior accountant.
Nyamira Senator Okong’o O’Mogeni who was the chief guest addressed the attendees virtually and said that the biography will go a long way in enabling young people to appreciate the strides the country has made over the years.