A Kenyan scholar, Dr. Tom Odhiambo, was appointed the ‘town chronicler’ of Bayreuth city, a revered title in the German tradition and urban cultural dynamics. He becomes the first African to hold the position and the second individual, taking over from Volker Strübing, a famous German poet who was appointed in 2014.
Dr. Odhiambo’s appointment was announced at the 27th Annual International Swahili Colloquium of the University of Bayreuth in Bayreuth. (Same University that recently honoured Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o with an honorary degree. and signed partnership agreements with Moi University.)
Dr Odhiambo is a senior lecturer at the University of Nairobi’s Literature department and the editor of the Journal of Eastern African Literary and Cultural Studies published by Taylor and Francis.
He also sits in the editorial board of the African Studies Journal of the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa.
“My appointment as the Bayreuth town Chronicler, or the official writer of this city, is a great honour to me,” Dr Odhiambo said as he stood next to the towering statue of the famous German writer Jean Paul Fredrich Richter, who lived in Bayreuth in the 18th Century.
Odhiambo is expected to write on anything he can see around the city through an African eye.
Many cities in Germany have the cherished tradition of having an official writer for a month, six months or a year. The post involves writing on one’s encounters on people’s behaviour, news, lifestyle, history and city structures.
He has been given a house in the city centre, from where he will be operating for the whole month of June. His writings will appear in a local daily The Courier.