Two questions I have had to answer all my life, two questions as inevitable as the break of dawn; I have had to get accustomed to my answers. “Yes, that Kiriamiti,” is almost always followed by, “No, Milly is not my mother.”
I am Annrita Kiriamiti, daughter of reformed bank robber and renowned author, John Kiriamiti! I wasn’t always aware I had a famous dad.
I grew up in a house full of books and was familiar with the fact that my father was an author.
Names such as Ngugi Wa Thiong’o and Mwangi Gicheru were common in our household and I knew to speak of them with lots of respect and admiration.
What wasn’t quite clear to a younger me was the position my father played in all of this. I did not understand for instance, why white men regularly visited our home from all parts of the world to see this very simple man.
It wasn’t until I was ten that I began to understand I wasn’t born into a regular family. I was in lower primary school at this time and I was starting to get a lot of attention from the older kids. They were pointing at me and the name ‘Kiriamiti’ kept coming up.
Needless to say, curiosity got the better of me. I realized to understand the man the rest of the world saw, I needed to read what was actually in those books that had his name on them.
My father at this time thought I was too young to read any of his books and so I resorted to the old Kiriamiti way and stole the book My Life in Crime. Over the next few days, I came to understand the name Kiriamiti and its place in my country.
Having a famous father can be rather inconvenient. For one, you can never be quite as big a deal as he is, no matter the situation. Secondly, he steals all the attention right out of whichever room he walks into. I, however, cannot imagine being born anywhere else in the world.
The biggest influence in my life has been my father and this becomes more apparent the older I got. While I have spent a large part of my adulthood trying to create an identity away from him, I often find myself circling back to the very thing that he is, a writer.
Growing up, my parents made sure that I knew I could be whatever I wanted to be. When I mentioned that I wanted to be an actor, I was surprised by how seriously both took it. I have a very supportive family that I do not take for granted.
Had they not believed in me, I might never have followed this through. While I have not been in the film industry for long, I have had the opportunity to work on quite a number of local productions.
My very first project was a short film I did in remembrance of the Westgate terror attack victims. It is titled The Lucky One and it ran in one of the Campus Film Symposiums as it was a collaborative project with students from Kenyatta University.
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