Title – Son of Fate
Author – John Kiriamiti
Publisher – East African Publishers
Format – eBook
Genre – Fiction
Themes – Crime, Family, Fate
Son of Fate must have been one of my earliest reads in school mainly due to John Kiriamiti’s popularity as a Kamiti Prison inmate. It was so long ago that I couldn’t remember Son of Fate’s storyline until I was almost through with the book. Son of Fate was an easy read.
The prologue starts off with a happily married well-to-do couple with a son. By all standards, it is a successful family with the husband Wamathina a successful writer. The wife is an adorable, fair, loving and supporting woman. Until they come for him, the men who got into the study before he could do anything to protect his family. Wamathina’s past has caught up to him. Just when he thought his life in Crime was over, it continues to nag him like that horrid smell when your cat poops behind your sofa.
For his life before a family, Wamathina has to go to prison for 8 years. He is not prepared when he gets out of prison to a country that is struggling with post-colonial independence. His brothers shun him, his wife stopped visiting in jail, he has no money, no hope, no future. So he heads back to Nairobi in the hopes that he can rebuild what he once lost. But life is not so kind.
Son of Fate
The Son of Fate finds himself sharing a room with thugs and has to toughen up once again. He goes so broke he has to sleep on the streets and take on odd jobs to even feed. The one as a shoe shiner is by far the most significant one, as it brings him face to face with the man that replaced him as a father, and a wife who refuses to acknowledge him. It breaks him, so bad that he considers embezzling money from the shoe shiner’s association to start a business. But even that collapses.
So he inherits the role of a father figure to two boys who are rougher than sandpaper with the aim to rehabilitate them. However, the boys have other plans and they soon cost him his newfound job as a driver by hiding a stolen stash in his house. While handcuffed, he realizes he cannot afford to go out that way and runs away with no valid plan whatsoever.
Until he finds an advert that’s over 20 days old that he applies and gets. His new job is great, he has an impossible boss who likes him, and a girl whose fate seems entwined with his. It just seems like things are looking up for him. If he is lucky, he might get his own cake and eat it. Or everything might go terribly wrong in ways that might even shock fate itself.
John Kiriamiti wrote a compelling story that is so rooted in Nairobi I could almost retrace his footsteps more than 30 years later. Son of Fate sure had a few loopholes which were no surprise seeing that this was his first work of fiction. His previous quasi-autobiographical books- My Life in Crime and My Life in Prison were so successful. Their stories were so heavily researched to find shreds of truth.
John Kiriamiti’s first book – My Life in Crime was written in Naivasha Maximum Prison. The son of fate was serving a 13-year jail sentence for robbery with violence. All his books have a lot of autobiographical evidence that sadly is difficult to verify.
However, they also have a string of resemblance that might be hard to follow through if fake. For instance, in My Life in Prison, John Kiriamiti speaks of how he impregnated his boss’s daughter and secretary at the same time- a concept that shows up in Son of Fate. Some parts of his books can also be corroborated by Milly, the girlfriend who’s version is given in My Life with a Criminal.
One More Thing
Whether all his works are factual truths to the bone, we might never know. But Son of Fate was published as fiction which strikes me as odd and might have been a deliberate misdirection. Some parts of the book were clearly farfetched but others were so true. His vivid representation of Nairobi in the 1960s is also an uncanny resemblance to the one in 2019.
Overall, Son of Fate was a good book and it was interesting to add to my collection of Kenyan authors. I am rating the book 4 out of 5 stars because it ticked off most of my boxes. I would recommend you read it. It sure does make an interesting book club discussion read.
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