Celebrating East African Writing!

John Kiriamiti (Kenya) & Lars Rambe (Sweden) – Writers in crime in conversation – session moderated by Tony Mochama.

Saturday 2nd October 4pm – 5:50pm

About Kiriamiti

John Kiriamiti's Son of Fate

John Baptista Wanjohi, better known as John Kiriamiti, is a household name for many readers of African Literature. Kiriamiti was privileged to be among the first nine African students to join the dominantly‐white Prince of Wales School (now Nairobi School) at a time when most Africans could not afford the Ksh 1,080 school fees charged.  His academic life at the Prince of Wales School was short‐lived though because in his last term as a Form One student, at the age of fifteen, he was expelled from school after being the ring-leader in a student’s strike. That marked the end of Kiriamiti’s formal education and subsequent entry into a life of crime.

By the age of twenty, he was already a known robber and in the police “VIP list”, as he calls ‘the most wanted’ police list. As a criminal, Kiriamiti went by the names John Khamwene, Charles Lukindo, Richard Mwangi, Albert Ngure, Albert Wanjohi and Jack Zollo (a name which he later used for his fictionalized self in both My Life in Crime and My Life in Prison) among others.

In 1971, after a long cat and mouse game with  the police, Kiriamiti was arrested and sent to jail for twenty years with forty-eight strokes of the cane. It is at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison and Naivasha Government Maximum Prison that he wrote his first novels, My Life in Crime and later, My Life with a Criminal.

In1984, Kiriamiti was released on grounds of good conduct, having served thirteen out of his twenty year sentence. But two years down the line, he was sent back to jail by President Moi’s regime for allegedly being involved in what the government deemed a seditious movement meant to overthrow the government (Mwakenya). He was released after four years, on 11 February, 1990 (the same day that South Africa’s freedom icon, Nelson Mandela was released from Robben Island). As fate would have it, two days later, what was thought to be the political assassination of the Foreign Affairs Minister Hon. John Robert Ouko on 13 February, 1990 linked him to yet another ‘suspicious look’ from Kenyans, as rumour had it that he “was released to kill Ouko” (Ombuor 2005:2).

Nevertheless, since his trading of the gun for a pen, and his subsequent release from Kamiti Maximum Security Prison, Kiriamiti has become a renowned philanthropist and social reformist rehabilitating street children and thieves in his rural Murang’a home. Besides writing novels, Kiriamiti also owns and edits a newspaper, The Sharpener, which he established after the government ban on the Gikuyu version, Inooro, in 1995. His later books, include Son of Fate (1994), the Sinister Trophy (2000) and My Life in Prison (2004)

About Lars

Lars Rambe - Crime Writer

Lars Rambe is an energetic author who writes hair-raising mysteries with profound emotion. In his crime novels, The Clue on the Pier (2007 and Shadows (2010) he mixes intelligent text with picturesque descriptions of landscapes and people. He masters drama, both in the crimes and in the main characters’ working and family lives. Being a practicing lawyer Lars Rambe has an expansive sense of judicial emotion. To this he adds the themes of manipulation, group pressure and outsider status into his tales, which fill them with additional power.  The stories take place in the idyllic county of Södermanland in the very heart of Sweden. With a masterly sharpness he blends historical events with contemporary occurrences. The mix is sometimes violent and always a skillfully constructed mosaics.

Lars’ website:


This entry was posted on September 8, 2010 by in Writing.
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