Judy Akinyi, or Saga MacOdongo, if you like, is the latest sensation in the Kenyan literary scene. Every one now seems to want a piece of her. Well, I will not deny her the right to be feted by literary enthusiasts. She has earned it. Her book Deadly Money Maker is currently the talk of town. The book was written while she was serving a jail term at the Langata Women’s Prison, for drug trafficking.
A former lecturer at the Kenya Polytechnic, Akinyi fell to the lure of quick money and plunged into the underworld. Her dream of overnight riches evaporated into thin air when on coming back from her maiden trip as a mule, she was arrested at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
The drug queen, who had introduced her into the illegal business left her to her own devices, and that is how she found herself cooling her heels at Langata. It seems odd and cruel that she would be arrested even before she tasted the fruits of her “work”. Well, word on the ground has it that, she had been set up as a pawn. She was earmarked to be a sacrificial lamb. This theory goes on to further suggest that drug lords and drug enforcement officials sometimes work in collusion.
The plan, it is said, is to have an unfortunate mule arrested, after a certain period of time, so as to show the public the war against drugs is alive and well. Thus, poor Akinyi found herself in the middle of a complex web and suffered the consequences
As fate would have it, it was not long before she got her chance to exact revenge. The drug queen, who sold her short, was finally arrested and was to be tried in the US. Akinyi was only too willing to testify against her. Akinyi’s testimony was all the justice system in the US needed to finally put the other woman behind bars.
Akinyi had not finished her sentence when she was released courtesy of a presidential pardon. Shortly after her release, Kwani? featured her in their monthly prose reading sessions, the Sunday Salon in June. Storymoja were waitinng in the wings and no sooner had Kwani? finished with her, they snapped her up with an even bigger and more elaborate schedule.
The readings kicked off on July 5 at the Wheels Restaurant along Ngong Road, followed by another one at the Das Restaurant in Westlands, the following day. On Saturday July 12, they were at Choma Vision along Thika Road. Their next event takes place on Sunday, July 27 at Tea Pot Restaurant, along Koinange Street from 2p.m. to 6p.m. The host will be radio personality Valentine Njoroge.
This is on top of the numerous TV interviews she has made in the intervening period. And Maisha Yetu reveals that a movie project, based on the book is in the works. Watch this space for developments. All this hype will definitely do a lot of good to the book, which might boost its sales. Hopefully then, she might not be tempted to go back into crime.
One thing though, all this hype risks getting into her head. Before you accuse me of sour grapes let me explain; Soon after her release, a journalist with one of the leading papers in Kenya called her seeking for an interview. After taking him round in circles postponing the interview, she finally asked him if he would pay her! To cut the long story short, the interview eventually did not materialise.
And how come her publishers, Paulines Publications are not getting any mentions? Could it be that they are just content to have their book marketed for them?