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Cover Story

The Memorial

Volume 14, Issue 3  | 
Published 01/02/2018
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At the unique memorial held under a huge tent in the lush gardens of The Arboretum ahead of his burial at Langata Cemetery, on the chilly morning of Tuesday July 7, speakers from the star-studded congregation lavished this literary icon with words, poems and song that both moved listeners and yet drew smiles.

Environment activist Davinder Lamba hailed his collaboration with Terry at the Mazingira Institute. Cartoonist Kham reminded the gathering of the timely luncheon cartoonists held in honour of the ‘father of cartoons’ with Gitau ‘the grandfather of cartoons’ almost two years ago. Theologian Weru remembered Terry, not as an artist, but as a generous, kind loving human being who let him eat half of his food when he was a desperate young trainee.

Prominent lawyer Pheroze Nowrojee’s powerful keynote tribute was listened to in utter silence. His long association with the late artist began at Kenya High in the late ’60s. He described the departed as, amongst others, a great contributor to art, painter, cartoonist, illustrator, draughtsman, writer, a cultural campaigner, critic, exhibition backroom assistant, kids’ books writer, book designer, educator and public communicator. He hailed Terry as a politically committed citizen, a renaissance person, funny and yet serious and a major influence on many. Cartoonists in his wake have contributed to social justice and defense of freedom. ‘I see no death,’ the lawyer and activist concluded, ‘I see no passing away. I see a presence of influence.’

For the family, youngest daughter Muthoni performed ‘The Savior’ on piano. Sheba read the poem ‘Lies’ by Adrian Mitchel for their mum, Nareas. Ciira also spoke on behalf of their sisters, Carolyn, Mandy and Nicky, who were unable to fly in from England. She told the congregation how their father was strict upon them when they were young for drawing on walls; all they needed to do was ask for paper. Nephew Simon Muya described his uncle as a ‘mzungu rock’.

Terry’s grandchildren infused the young generation into the proceedings with their captivating rap song ‘Standing in Hall of Fame’ which reflected his life. Son-in-law and musician Eric Wainaina rendered a medley of songs that Terry loved - breaking down once mid-song. Lucy Mombo from the Down’s Syndrome Society of Kenya spoke highly of Muthoni who has overcome the condition.

The sermon by Reverend Phyllis Ochilo was moving too with her description of Terry as a social prophet. Former colleague John McHaffie later referred to Terry as a happy man - ‘ray of sunshine’. Hilary Ng’weno attended the memorial but did not speak.

Terry was interred at Langata Cemetery in a Wangari Maathai-inspired ‘eco-geneza’ built from hyacinth.

Last modified on Sunday, 04 February 2018 20:08
Paul Kelemba (Maddo)

 Popularly known as "Maddo" is an editorial cartoonist and produces the weekly "Madd Madd World" every weekend in the Standard Newspaper.

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