In 1984, My Life in Crime, a book detailing the life of a Kenyan robber was released in Kenya. The book written by John Kiriamiti told the story of Jack Zollo, a robber who committed a series of robberies in Kenya before the long arm of the law finally caught up with him on…. wait for it… the eve of his wedding. The book would go ahead to become one of the best selling books in Kenya.
The writer vividly described the crimes and how Jack Zollo evaded the police until his arrest. This did not go well with the government and a search for the writer began. There was one problem though, no one knew who John Kiriamiti or Jack Zollo was. The only thing known was that the writer was somewhere in prison. After days of searching, Jack Zollo aka John Kiriamiti aka so many other names was finally found after he was betrayed by his fellow inmates. John Kiriamiti was Jack Zollo, the bank robber. He was moved to solitary confinement before his release 5 months later.
My Life in Crime is a fictionalized account of John Kiriamiti’s criminality in Kenya during the 1960s and 1970s. He wrote the book while serving time in Naivasha Maximum Security prison.
In 2012, celebrated writer and filmmaker Serah Mwihaki who wrote the award winning film ‘Nairobi Half Life’ teamed up with filmmaker Neil Schell to adapt the book into a movie. The cast was to include celebrated actors like Ajiambo Ainea, Eddy Kimani, Lenana Kariba, Janet Kirina and Jeff Koinange among others. However, controversy arose when the lead role was given to award winning Nigerian actor Jim Iyke. A section of Kenyans criticized the move citing that a Kenyan actor deserved the lead role. Needless to say, the production never took place.
Later, Afridev Media company would go ahead to adapt the book into a movie which is set to premiere this year. The movie was directed by Tanzanian filmmaker Ramadhan Nungu.
The movie’s trailer received so much backlash and criticism upon its release earlier this month from both fans of the book and John Kiriamiti’s family.
According to Kiriamiti’s daughter, Annrita Kiriamiti, her father was excluded from the movie’s creative direction as had previously been agreed. She went ahead to accuse the production of using her father’s real name in the movie (John Kiriamiti) instead of Jack Zollo as used in the book. According to her, ‘my dad is very disappointed’.
Showed dad the trailer and the first thing he says is 'why does it say his name is John Kiriamiti? Nobody in my book has that name' 😂 #JackZollo
— Annrita Kiriamiti (@Ms_Kiriamiti) January 8, 2018
Fans of the book on the other hand are disappointed in the quality of the production; from the choice of language to the choice of actors. Many feel that the movie does not do John Kiriamiti’s book any justice with some advising the production company behind it to go back to the drawing board and do a better job.
Does the movie, based on the trailer do Kiriamiti’s book any justice? Or is it too early to judge the movie based on the trailer? Would the 2012 cast by Neil Schell and production team have done a better job? I guess we’ll never know about that last part.
Anyway, watch the trailer below and tell us what you think.