The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives: A Review

I just finished reading The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, seven years since it was first published. The way Lola Shoneyin spun this story, dexterously weaving the words and lines to create events like an experienced weaver bird, is as if the story was meant to awaken lulled noises in your head.  It is difficult to tell whether that (awakening) was the initial intention of the author though.

The theme is conspicuously African, and the author does not make any effort to be politically correct. That is an aspect I respect a lot as I continue exploring African literature. Continue reading “The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives: A Review”

Exploring Rusinga: A Hidden Paradise (Part 2)

Now, there seems to be an unwritten edict: a festival without food is no festival at all. And since we were here to celebrate Suba culture, it would have been disappointing to find nothing which could quell my riotous stomach. Definitely, my first stop is at the food tent, where I find all these people with whom we starve in Nairobi. They were all eating mixed grills, let them not lie to you. The only way to describe western Kenya foods is by sampling them and letting the stomach do the talking, otherwise you’d just bite your tongue.  Sample all of them if possible, and you’ll still live to sing the praises of Suba cookery. Continue reading “Exploring Rusinga: A Hidden Paradise (Part 2)”

Exploring Rusinga: The Hidden Paradise (Part 1)

If there have been efforts of resuscitating the Suba culture before six years ago, then none of them has been as consistent and engaging as #Rusinga Festival. And with each new year, come new experiences for cross-cultural tourists. No one would have guessed that the cultural celebration would survive this long, growing bigger and attracting thousands of people from all over Kenya. The resilience of the festival organizer, Anne Eboso, a Mandela Washington Fellow (for this effort) has seen the festival become a trademark in the Kenyan cultural festival scene. This year marks the sixth edition of the event and promises, as usual, not to disappoint. Continue reading “Exploring Rusinga: The Hidden Paradise (Part 1)”

Energised Race in the Wrong Direction

A woman being beaten from where she had taken refuge.

Did you hear of the recent race in Venice where the leading pack of athletes, among them favourites from Kenya, who raced like crazy only to realise that they were running in the wrong direction? That’s my visualization of this whole saga that is the fable Kenyan democracy. Only that we have upped our game and instead of running, we as a country are racing in Formula 1 cars, without head gear and no technical checkup stops.

A few days ago, I had a discussion with some colleagues about the events before and after the 26th October, 2017. A you would expect of a political Continue reading “Energised Race in the Wrong Direction”

Call for Submissions: Mawazo Novel Writing Workshop

Mawazo Africa Writing Institute announces a Call for Submissions for its first writing workshop: Writing the Novel, led by award-winning author Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi. The aim of the workshop is to provide advanced training and support to African writers who want to complete full-length novel manuscripts (normally of 30,000 words minimum). The workshop will be held online and is a free pilot program.

Ngugi wa Thiong’o, the ‘Elusive’ Nobel Peace Prize, and the Politics of Silence

That Ngugi wa Thiong’o is a towering literary and ideological influencer venerated by the world without the Kenyan borders is not contestable. Neither is the fact that he isn’t a divisive nor a uniting figure in Kenya, simply because a larger chunk of the youthful population active in sociopolitical discourse does not identify with him. This important segment of citizenry has not experienced the man who was once detained by Jomo Kenyatta in 1977, released by Moi, only to flee into exile in the USA after his theatre in Limuru was burnt down by the latter’s government. Continue reading “Ngugi wa Thiong’o, the ‘Elusive’ Nobel Peace Prize, and the Politics of Silence”

TBC Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature 2017 Winners

The Winners of the Text Book Center Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature 2017 were announced last night in a colourful event held at Pride Inn, Westlands last night.

Adult Category in English
The Elephant Dance by H. Ole Kulet – Publishers – Longhorn Publishers

This is a story of contemporary business empires and an illumination of how some of them are built through money laundering, corrupt business deals and generally with disregard for morals. This text highlights how international syndicates connive with corrupt local individuals to rob local communities of their cultural heritage and wealth. Such individuals are driven by a selfish ambition to amass wealth at all costs. Indeed, they would not think twice even if the environment and the living things therein were decimated in a day. This novel represents Ole Kulet’s most sophisticated imagination about matters environment, on which he has been writing for decades. The Elephant Dance is an ode to the efforts of those who seek to tap into communal knowledge in the fight against animal poaching.

Adult Category in Kiswahili
Mashetani wa Alepo by Tom Olali – Publishers – Jomo Kenyatta Foundation

A futuristic novel in which the writer dares to experiment with style and subject. The story is rendered in the form of fantasy to prophesy the doom of humankind as a consequence of moral degeneration, wanton destruction of nature and the selfish interests in technological experimentation. It cautions against capitalistic tendencies that are pegged on the pretence of economic development. This is a novel in which the author deliberately seeks to invite different audiences, through dexterous use of language, including code-mixing, to reflect on the most significant tragedy of modernity: man’s inhumanity. This novel is part of a new tendency in Kiswahili literature in Kenya to address itself to both the traditional Kiswahili literature reader and other interested readers of literature in Kiswahili.

The book was 2nd Runners up for the Wahome Mutahi Literary Award for Adult Kiswahili Fiction Category, 2016.

Youth Category in Kiswahili
Majilio ya Mkombozi by Mwenda Mbatiah – Publishers – Moran Publishers

An interesting narrative that promises the rise of a new social order. The text grapples with realistic social issues and presents characters that are acceptable and identifiable. As a coming of age narrative, the story is laden with moral values of hard work, selflessness, and honesty. It also emphasises the need to appreciate women in nation-building and warns against the destructive forces of greed and corruption. Further, the story cautions against taking advantage of others. This is a classic example of good triumphs over evil sort of story.

Youth Category in English
Ghost and the Fortune Hunters by Goro wa Kamau – Publishers – Longhorn

Publishers- A beautifully crafted story that grapples with the challenges of birth defects and the ignorance of some people towards albinism. It demonstrates the genesis of the problems of the youth and accords them the opportunity to mend their ways without unnecessarily victimising them further. This is a story of self-acceptance, hard work and resilience despite the circumstances.

The book had won the Burt Award in 2016.

Children Category in English
Koko Riko Take it Easy by Muthoni Muchemi – Publishers – Storymoja

An interesting story that presents both animal and human characters. It strongly teaches children the virtues of saving for a rainy day without appearing to impose the theme. The illustrations are appropriate and indicate that the writer revisits the traditional fable mode to convey a moral lesson in a contemporary setting.

The prize is awarded every two years. Kenya Publishers Association congratulates all the winners.

Babu Owino Is a Hero and Should Be Treated As Such

Paul Ongili aka Babu Owino

I was dismayed to see Embakasi East MP elect Babu Owino being arrested for calling an unidentified person mtoto wa umbwa. First, I couldn’t make out what exact crime the maverick had committed until I heard he had been charged with subversion. Subversion?  What’s that? How can calling an unidentified person mtoto wa umbwa lead to the fall of a government? Well, let the courts decide that. But in our sociopolitical culture we do not have something like that. Instead of being thrown into some small dungeon, Babu Owino should have been taken Continue reading “Babu Owino Is a Hero and Should Be Treated As Such”

Muthama Thinks a Duel of Honour Ends Up Honourably

Moses Kuria (left) and Johnson Muthama (right) when they were arraigned in court on charges of incitement.

Former Machakos Senator, Johnson Nduya Muthama, was arrested last week, a second such arrest in two years. Many people suspect various reasons as to why he was arrested. His supporters suspect the government is witch-hunting him. Others suspect he engineers his own arrests by transgressing the law unnecessarily. Police suspect Continue reading “Muthama Thinks a Duel of Honour Ends Up Honourably”