Tag Archives: Kwani

What Savvy Reads

Okay, this post is not really about me, I just thought I would share with you what’s on my reading list, and also give some sort of review/preview of the books I have read recently. Between school, work, traveling to watch AFC Leopards play, attending tech events and social events, I sometimes squeeze in time to read a book or two.

That Kenyans do not read is a fallacy, I agree with @Aka3CB in this Diasporadical post. We Kenyans read a lot; from facebook statuses, tweets, blogs, newspapers, drug prescriptions, novels from the street, tattered magazines in salons; to those mganga wa kesi za koti, mapenzi notices, manhood enlargement on signposts; to stickers in matatus, banners on the back of lorries and buses, quotes on pimped matatus, and the Bible that is read to us in the bus, on the radio, on TV..

bookshelf
Someone get me a nice bookshelf like this one for my-soon-to-be-tastefully-decorated-crib! Image from ericadunham.com

Here’s what is currently on my reading list:

  • The Art of Seduction by Robert Green (ebook): I’m yet to finish the first chapter but I’m told I’ll become the perfect seducer after I read that book, he he
  • Love in a Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez (ebook). After reading 100 years of solitude, which my bro claimed to have no end in sight, but which I enjoyed very much, I decided to read this one too.
  • The Caine Prize for African Literature 2012 shortlist: these are the stories shortlisted this year. You can download the stories in pdf from the website. Short stories are easier to read because they only need an hour of your time, unlike an involving novel that takes days to complete.
  • The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Green (hardcopy). I started reading this book last year, it was my graduation present from my uncle (first class honours bragging rights, I’m allowed to mention it here!). Anyway, I seem to have misplaced the book but if I find it, I intend to finish reading it.
  • The Hunger Games (ebook)- a fantasy collection that I can’t wait to start reading. I love books like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones (A Song of Fire and Ice) and other non-famous fantasy/SciFi kind of books. This one is big though, they’ve made the movie which I won’t watch until I finish the books. Movies rarely ever live up to their books anyway.

Recently Read: Brief Reviews

The Jesus Papers by Michael Baigent

The Jesus Papers
The Jesus Papers

In a summary, this book seeks to discredit Jesus Christ. It concludes that his crucifixion never happened or if it happened, then Jesus must have survived the crucifixion. The author starts by taking us back to the context of Jesus’ story. Jesus was born in modern day Palestine, so that image of a blonde Jesus that Christians spread around is not accurate. The author explores the culture, beliefs, lifestyle, wars, politics surrounding the region Jesus grew up in. He (the author) uses research from historians around the time Jesus was alive, before and after, some artifacts found in museums around the world, including the Dead Sea Scrolls that were found in the late 1940’s.

The author uses gaps in the Bible (like where on earth did Jesus go between ages 12 and baptism (30-33)?), inconsistencies in the books of the Bible, the history of WHO compiled the Bible, the (very) violent history of the Catholic Church (like when they were burning “witches” in Europe) to draw the conclusion that Jesus Christ was not divine after all, that he (Jesus) was just a man whom some very powerful people in history used to create a religion for their own power-hungry reasons. However, the author goes on to praise ancient religions like the Egyptian one, where he says someone just feels “overcome by emotion” when they visit the pyramids and other religious sites.

My conclusion: there’s simply not enough evidence to support his theories. Most of his evidence is circumstantial and it’s a good book for anyone objective enough to read it. What the author forgets is that FAITH is not something based on FACTS. People are searching for something to believe in, and Christianity has got some rationality in it. It does not matter how Jesus looked like or how the Bible was compiled, it’s about what people choose to believe. I think Christianity lets people interpret the Bible their own way, thus is a popular religion. The book is an involving read though sometimes it could drag on and on trying to prove a point!

One Day I will Write About This Place by Binyavanga Wainaina

One Day I Will Write About This Place
One Day I Will Write About This Place

In the words of Chimamanda Adichie (this is the point where you Google her), this book is a tender memoir about growing up in middle class Kenya. I first learned of Binyavanga Wainaina from his famous essay, “How Not To Write About Africa.” He won the Caine Prize for African Writing for his short story, Discovering Home, in 2002, the first Kenyan to win it.

Binyavanga has always been in my reading radar because he’s among the guys who started Kwani? Organization, where I’ve met many writers and bought a number of books they’ve published. His book was launched in Kenya recently, and I’m lucky I got a signed copy “To Harriet, with my love, Binyavanga”. He has a terrible handwriting but I’m sure that’s what he wrote!

I don’t want to give away what’s in the book, but it’s certainly worth reading. The language flows, twists this way to fit the story-line, cynical sometimes (like when he talks of Kenya’s politics), tender (when he talks of his family), funny and quirky (I love the part he talks about the new job of convincing farmers to plant cotton, and his encounter with the beaming chief of the area), and he talks of how he somehow got through what I’d call the “quarter-life” crisis, a time when you are in your 20’s, just lost, drifting, living one day at a time, isolated in your own world(room).

Here’s to a happy reading!

Now off to write my short story that might just one day win me a Caine Prize and a publishing contract! #Dreams

P.S.

Sorry you can’t borrow my hard copy books, but I can share the soft copy ones. Email me if you need one.

Kwani? Open Mic

“Established in 2003, Kwani Trust is a Kenyan based literary network dedicated to developing quality creative writing and committed to the growth of the creative industry through the publishing and distribution of contemporary African writing, offering training opportunities, producing literary events and establishing and maintaining global literary networks. Our vision is to create a society that uses its stories to see itself more coherently.”

Any creative writer/wannbe writer/poet/actress should know about Kwani?. Also Storymoja but that’s a story for another day. If you’ve ever dreamed of having your work published, these are among the local publishing houses that you should get in touch with. Kwani? is a non-profit making organization, as I understand it. I haven’t written any stories of late, but I dream of writing that award-winning novel someday.

On the first Tuesday of every month, Kwani? holds an Open Mic session at Club Soundd in town. From 7pm to around 10pm. It’s a platform for emerging poets to showcase talent. The seasoned poets come too, so it’s chance to interact and learn from there. There are books Kwani? has published that are available for sale.. they go for anything from Kshs. 200- Kshs. 2 000.

This past Tuesday, after my first MSc exam, I made my way to Club Soundd. I was meeting my friend from back in undergraduate. I must admit it’s hard to catch up with stories from our lives over the music that marked the interval between one poet and the next.

The host was one lovely lady whose name I didn’t get.. and performance by poets was alright. From first timers to oldies, you had to listen to their words. Sometimes you forget the beauty that is poetry and these people remind you of that! The poets that performed included Sitawa Wafula, TheBogof, KennetB and Smitta Smitten (or Tony Mochama as he was going by that night).

It was the first time I was seeing Smitta perform so I didn’t know his style.. bold language right there( I remember this line in particular “.. going to Java to drink coffee made from the testicles of child molesters).

Looking forward to next month… hope I’ll see a budding poet perform after reading this?

Pictures from the event are full of darkness! The IDEOS has one of the worst cameras I know, the lighting was club-like (it’s a club after all) and no flash!

Two actors (they do theater) on stage during a performance. I think it had something to do with gender wars.