He fits among Kenya’s leading writers and literary icons rather insecurely. But his standing in the political landscape is even more unclear.But Maillu thinks otherwise.
So when I saw his picture in Crazy Monday (The Standard, 16th April) I was not very surprised. The dare-devil Maillu has, for the fourth time, declared his candidacy for the presidency.He is the father of an obscure political party called Communal Democracy of Kenya (CDK). He is also the founder of an even lesser known political philosophy called The Maillu Revolution. Besides these, however, he has no close affiliation to any major political party or any prominent politician. And yet he has been eyeing the presidency since 1997.
Maillu is a bundle of contradictions. The controversial writer is the proud holder of a doctoral degree in literature, but he has no more than a high school education. Though he has never stepped inside a university lecture hall to learn or teach, he is often invited to give lectures on writing in various colleges abroad. He has over 60 books in print, ranging in theme from polygamy to religion and from children’s stories to sheer pornography and his books are studied in many universities across the world.
The doctorate degree bestowed upon him in 1998 by South Australia’s St Clement’s University was perhaps the highest honour in the last ten years. It was in recognition of his contribution to African literature – especially for his major work, Broken Drum, published in 1995. In 2002, he was invited to the launch of a new book of criticism on the works of Daisaku Ikeda, a Japanese scholar and honorary member of the Writers’ Association of Kenya. Wak included a toast in his honour of Maillu in the event. Maillu is best known as a prolific writer of humorous, sexually explicit pocket-size books like No, Unfit for Human Consumption, My Dear Bottle and After 4.30.
Several critical texts pour endless praise on his many works of fiction, religion and philosophy, including The Broken Drum, Our Kind of Polygamy and African Indigenous Political Ideology. He has also been published in fields as diverse as poetry, drama, children’s fiction, philosophy and religion.
He also won the coveted Jomo Kenyatta Prize for literature in 1992 jointly with Wahome Mutahi, the late popular humour columnist.
But the most confounding side of Maillu, a father of two, is his political dreams. In 1997, he was waxing enthusiastic about becoming a parliamentary representative for the newly-created Kaiti constituency, promising to charm voters with his guitar. After launching his book, African Indigenous Political Ideology at the University of Nairobi in 2002, he called a press conference to announce that he was running for the presidency on a Kanu ticket, against the then formidable incumbent Daniel arap Moi. It sounded like a modern day David and Goliath piece, which virtually all editors dismissed. Politically, nothing much has been heard about Maillu since then.But he is not giving up yet.
“As a writer, I am also politician,” he says, tightening his hold on his giant white flywhisk. “I have a big constituency and more important, an ideology, which these people don’t have. In fact, I have a revolution. This is the antidote to foreign political models.” He says as fondles a copy of his new book, The Maillu Revolution.
His fate against Kenya’s political heavy weights like Mwai Kibaki, Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka or Uhuru Kenyatta or Ruto is obviously sealed. But Maillu intends to turn his home in Kola into a museum and community library and mobilised his constituents to construct a bridge and a dam through the Kilonde Self-Help Water Project, which he founded.
On his many journeys, he collects stones, plants, and pieces of art, with which he has built and decorated a unique home that stands out for its greenery and architecture in the dry plains of Ukambani. The walls of his
Nairobi house are decorated with his original paintings, as are the pages of his books.
The author is working on a thesis on East African popular literature.