Renowned author Henry ole Kulet dies in Nakuru aged 75

Henry ole Kulet

Renowned writer Henry ole Kulet died on February 16, 2021, in Nakuru at the age of 75. PHOTO | NMG

The Kenyan literary fraternity is mourning the death of renowned writer Henry ole Kulet who died on Tuesday night in Nakuru.

The celebrated and award-winning author, whose illustrious career spanned over three decades, died at the age of 75.

Mr Kulet, a three-time winner of the prestigious Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature, passed away at Nakuru's Mediheal Hospital following a short illness, said a family member.

"It is true, my uncle fell ill this week and was admitted to Mediheal Hospital where he passed on while receiving treatment," Mr Kulet's nephew, Lemomo Ole Kulet, told the Nation by phone Wednesday morning.

Blossoms of the Savannah

Blossoms of the Savannah, one of the books written by the late Kulet. PHOTO | NMG

His wife, Jane Njeri Kulet, also confirmed the death.

"Mzee passed on last night at the Mediheal Hospital after a short illness. I have lost a friend and confidant," Njeri told the Nation Wednesday morning.

He said the family will issue a comprehensive statement later in the day.

The veteran author died two months after he lost his son, Edwin Lemayan, who was aged 39.

Lemayan died in December last year at his Nairobi residence after a short illness.

Literary works

Kulet’s literary works include Is it Possible,To Become a Man, The Hunter, Maisha ya Hatari, Daughter of Maa, Moran No More, Bandits of Kibi, Blossoms of the Savannah, Vanishing Herds and The Elephant Dance.

He was born in 1946 in Enkare-Ngusur village, Narok County.

When the colonial government ordered that all boys be sent to school, his father moved his family to Ilkiremisho, a place that was very far from the nearest school.

He was eventually enrolled in school where his writing career begun to develop, encouraged by his teachers.

While in high school, most of the boys at his institution, being sons of pastoralists, were encouraged to study range management and animal husbandry with the hope that they would improve their livestock keeping.

Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature

Kulet after being named the winner of the 2017 Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Farm management training

He was one the boys who were attached to large-scale white settlers to learn farm management with short stints at Egerton College which, at that time, specialised in training dairy technicians and farm managers.

He studied farm management at the Egerton College.

He was then employed as an assistant manager with Kenya Farmers Association in Nakuru.

It was while working there that he wrote his debut novel, Is it Possible?

He retired from his career in agriculture at the age of 41 in 1987 as a personnel executive in charge of a work force of over 4,000 employees.

During his retirement, he wrote nine other books including Blossoms of the Savannah and was awarded the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature.

Most of his novels capture aspects of environment, culture and experiences of the Maasai people.

Daughter of Maa, for instance, is a story of a quiet village that is stirred by a frenzy of activities by the arrival of a young and pretty community teacher, Anna Walangh.

Kulet authored Is it possible? in 1971, How To become a Man in 1972 and Bandits of Kibi in 1999.

In Bandits of Kibi, he created scenes which came out during the 2007-2008 post-election violence.

Ole Kulet

Kulet displaying a certificate after winning the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature in 2009. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Set book

In 2018, his novel, Blossoms of the Savannah (2008), was made a compulsory set book in Kenya’s secondary school English syllabus.

The book was nominated for the International Dublin Impact Award in 2008, immediately it was published.

It went on to win the 2009 Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature.

His debut novel, Is It Possible? (1971), was a set text in Tanzanian schools.

The novel, together with To Become a Man (1972), has been translated into French, German and Swedish.

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