Over the past week I’ve been reading Wanjiru Koinange’s debut novel The Havoc of Choice, set in those tumultuous weeks and months before and after Kenya’s 2007 general election. The writing is searing and urgent, and has some delightful turns of phrase for which I actually had to pause and savour – like when gunshots are described as both random and regular, “like a clock losing time.”
One of the things that struck me most about this novel is the way it is truly written for a Kenyan audience. There’s little of that jarring translation of Kiswahili/ Sheng phrases into English in the text, Koinange just keeps it moving, and if you get it, you get it, and if not – tupatane mbele (see what I did there?). It’s a special kind of joy to be seen in this way, for my world, my reality and my lived experience to be reflected in the written word – I never take this for granted whenever I encounter it. You may have heard it time and time again, that representation matters. It truly does matter.
On that note, we discovered a Twitter handle, @KReaderthon (curated by @lexawendy1), that is hosting a month-long readerthon intended to promote Kenyan authors and their works. You’ll find more information in this newsletter. Consider gifting this to yourself in the month of September – an intimate encounter with works that are set in our Kenyan lived experience. And if you’re not Kenyan, consider this a crash course in this “peculiar nation” (a loaded phrase that you might need a Kenyan to explain fully to you).
You’ll also find an interview that Baraza member and podcasting expert Paula Rogo had with our very own Executive Director Maurice Otieno on Semabox, our joint initiative with StudioTisa, which is rapidly becoming the busiest corner of the Lab. Paula has been writing a weekly column, Podcasting 4 Africans, on her Medium page which is rich with insights about a nascent space buzzing with so much possibility.
Yours in solidarity,
Curator || Baraza Media Lab