Books Culture Featured Personalities publishing

Prof Kithaka wa Mberia has occupied the same office for 41 years

Five little known facts about Prof Kithaka wa Mberia.

1. He teaches Linguistics at the University of Nairobi and not Kiswahili, as widely believed by many. One of the many Vice-Chancellors he has served under, at UoN, long held the belief that Prof Mberia taught Kiswahili.

2. His book Kwenzi Gizani, which won the Jomo Kenyatta prize for Literature, last month (September 2022), was the first book he was submitting to be considered for a literary award.

3. He has self-published all his books, including Kifo Kisimani, which was a set book between 2005 and 2012.

4. He has occupied the same office, at the University of Nairobi for 41 years.

5. He writes in Kiswahili as a matter of principle. “I would be read more widely if I decided to write in English,” he says. “That is a price I am willing to pay.”

Books Education Events Featured Issues News publishing

Relief as Kenyan publishers hold first book fair in two years

It was relief for Kenyan publishers after they held their first book fair in two years in Nakuru City last week.

The publishers are just recovering from the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw them lose a whole year’s sales when learning institutions were closed in 2020.

Kiarie Kamau (third from left), the chairman of Kenya Publishers Association conducts Jared Obiero (in blue suit), the Rift Valley Director of Education, around the stands at the Nakuru Regional Book Fair. PICTURE| KLB

Due to restrictions pertaining to Covid protocols, they could not hold a physical book fair. They therefore tried something new, a virtual book fair, which however did not realise any sales. The disappointing outcome made them to cancel plans for holding fairs in 2021.

In total, Kenyan publishers missed out on four book fairs. Each year, the Kenya Publishers Association (KPA) holds two book fairs; a regional one in the counties and an international one at the Sarit Centre in Nairobi.

They were thus raring to go when it became clear that the Nakuru regional book fair would finally become a reality. Kiarie Kamau, the chairperson of KPA expressed optimism that the worst is now behind and urged publishers to diversify their product portfolio to avoid over-reliance on textbooks. “Though schools were closed due to Covid restrictions, people were still reading behind closed doors. We need to fully service this general market while at the same time publishing for the school market,” said Mr Kamau who is also the managing director of East African Educational Publishers (EAEP).

He noted that their decision to hold the regional book fair in Nakuru was informed by the fact that exactly a year ago the town acquired city status. “We wanted to celebrate with the people of Nakuru,” explained Mr. Kamau. “We were excited to see the enthusiastic response from teachers, parents, students and booksellers who thronged our stands during the four days we were at the Maasai Market, along Kenyatta Avenue. Publishers made good sales.”

He added that booksellers were particularly excited to see the fair come to their city. “Booksellers were hard hit by the Covid pandemic; some had even closed shop. To them, this was a clear indication that things are back to normal,” added Mr Kamau.


On her part, Mary Maina, the chairperson of the Nairobi International Book Fair, regional book fairs are the best avenues of taking books to the people, in the true spirit of devolution. “In our case we are distributing knowledge, thereby giving Kenyans throughout the country a chance to sample what publishers have to offer,” said Ms Maina, who is also the managing director of Moran Publishers.

She added that visitors to the Fair got a chance to see all the books that have been approved to be used in the Competency Based Curriculum, which is currently in Grade Six as well as the remaining classes of the 8-4-4 System. “Also on offer were revision books for school children, as well and books for general reading like readers and novels for adults. We got very encouraging reception from booksellers who were keen to stock up,” added Ms Maina.

Kithusi Mulonzya, the CEO of One Planet Publishers, noted that the Nakuru Regional Book Fair was a dry run for the Nairobi International Book Fair that will be held in September. “This year’s event will be bigger and better,” he said. 

John Mburu, the general manager of Patmat Bookshop, in Nakuru, thanked publishers for marketing and promoting booksellers in the region. “The coming of the book fair in Nakuru has really boosted our sales,” he said.

The highlight of the Fair was a visit to the Love for All Children’s Home in Shabab area, where publishers donated foodstuffs and books worth sh200,000.

Arts Books Events Issues News Personalities publishing Reviews

Three needless murders and a writer’s vengeance

History has a funny way of repeating itself, especially if we do not learn from it.

In 1980, Frank Sundstrom, an American marine landed at the Kenyan coast, where he met Monicah Njeri. Njeri was what you would call a sex worker, yaani alikuwa anatafutia watoto.

One thing led to another; the two had sex, as would have been expected in such a transaction. Much later, while having drinks, Sundstrom, who claimed to have been unhappy with the ‘services’ offered, beat up Njeri, killing her in the process.

He smashed a bottle on Njeri’s head and used the broken bottle to stab her to death. He later made away with Njeri’s money.

32 years later, Agnes Wanjiru, like Njeri, met a British soldier in Nanyuki. The same thing happened and the soldier, who is yet to be identified, murdered Wanjiru and threw her body in a septic tank. Like Njeri, Wanjiru was also stabbed to death.

While Sundstrom was arrested and subjected to ‘trial’, the British soldier literally got away with murder, until about two weeks ago, when a fellow soldier decided to go public with what he knew. Britain’s Ministry of Defence thought they had successfully covered up the murder, until now.

Following an inquest in 2019, judge Njeri Thuku concluded that Wanjiru had been murdered by one or two British soldiers. The whistleblowing soldier told UK’s Sunday Times that the killer had confessed to him and he reported it but the army failed to investigate.

As for Njeri, the murder trial was presided over by a 74-year-old British expatriate judge, who released Sundstrom on a 70 dollar, two-year ‘good behaviour’ bond.

This is what the Washington Post wrote about the case then: “The verdict has brought an outcry for judicial reform from Kenyans, who point out that Sundstrom was tried by a white British judge. The white prosecutor, also British, “instead assumed the role of the defense counsel,” the daily East African Standard of Nairobi charged.”

They say why hire a lawyer when you can buy a judge.

Enter Peter Kimani. In 2002, 22 years after Njeri’s murder, Kimani, then a journalist with the East African Standard, wrote his first novel, Before the Rooster Crows.

In the book, Mumbi, whose father had turned her into a wife, runs away from her village in Gichagi, to the city (Gichuka), in search of better life. To survive in the city, Mumbi turns into a flesh peddler.

Much later, she is joined by Muriuki, her village sweetheart.

Mumbi is willing to leave her old profession so the two can settle down as man and wife, but then a news item in the papers catches her attention. A ship full of American marines docks at the coast (Pwani). Mumbi convinces Muriuki to accompany her to the coast, for ‘one final job’, before finally hanging her, er, petticoat.

At the coast, Mumbi alijishindia a soldier named Desertstorm. After sex Desertstorm claims that he got a raw deal and demands his money back. A fight ensues and the marine stabs poor Mumbi with a broken bottle, a number of times, until she dies. He steals Mumbi’s money after killing her.

Muriuki happens to witness the entire episode through a keyhole, from an adjoining door, too cowardly to intervene.

Desertstorm is hauled before a British judge, who despite the overwhelming testimony against the suspect, sets him free ‘on condition that he signs a bond in the sum sh500 to be of good behaviour for a period of two years’.

Remember, Mumbi’s unlike Njeri and Wanjiru’s case, is fictional and Kimani, the author controls the narrative. Before the Rooster Crows is a historical novel and the author is out to right a historical injustice committed in 1980.

How does he do it? Stay with me…

Following the injustice occasioned on his girlfriend, through the courts, Muriuki tracks down Mumbi’s killer and strangles him to death.

Cue another trial, this time with Muriuki on the dock. Meanwhile, there is huge outcry and judge – the same one who freed Desertstorm – recuses himself from the case. It becomes clear that justice might finally be done, or would it?

In the intervening period, a bill is brought before parliament to the effect that the president can intervene in an ongoing case and deliver judgement. That is precisely what was done and Muriuki was sentenced to death.

This was obviously a case of foreign interference, just like in Njeri’s case, to arrive at crooked justice.

However, in the realm of fiction, the author has is in charge and that is how he ensured that Mumbi gets some justice, no matter how rough.

Now, since we did not learn from the 1980 murder, that is why history had to repeat itself with the Nanyuki murder.

This book is a must read for anyone interested in good writing. I wonder why the fellows at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) have to engage in the charade of looking for setbooks, when such a gem gathers dust on bookshelves.

Kimani’s publishers, EAEP, should tell readers if the book is still in circulation.

Kimani is also the author of Dance of the Jakaranda, another historical novel, which is doing well internationally.

Arts Books Culture Personalities publishing Uncategorized

Chakava, the father of African publishing

Henry Chakava, has been referred to as the father of African publishing for good reason.

He would have easily made a career in the academy but he chose publishing instead. In 1972, he joined the then Heinemann Educational Publishers as an editor. In a span of six years, he had risen to the position of managing director.

In the early nineties he bought the company from its UK owners and named it East African Educational Publishers. However, the most enduring part of his story is how he led his company to publish more than 2,000 tiles of culturally relevant books – which include fiction – the largest by a local publishing house.

He managed this by balancing between publishing school publishing – the bread and butter of local publishing – and publishing for leisure/fiction.

Despite the fact that his employers, Heinemann, were the publishers of the successful African Writers Series, he kept receiving manuscripts which he felt would fit into a new genre of adventure, romance and crime.

He floated the idea to his bosses in the UK but they flatly rejected the idea. He would not take no for an answer and went ahead to start the Spear Series, which became so successful, that Heinemann had to start a series of their own called Heartbeat.

Chakava received the manuscript of My Life in Crime from Kamiti Maximum Prison, where the author, John Kiriamiti, had been imprisoned for robbery with violence. To date, My Life in Crime remains Kenya’s best-selling novel.

It should be remembered that Chakava is also Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s publisher. For Chakava, publishing Ngugi was a challenge, a risk and reward.  Challenge in the sense that as a committed writer, he expects the publisher to share his vision. And for that he has given Chakava all the due respect.

Another challenge had to do with distribution of his works following Heinemann’s take over by East African Educational Publishers. Without the network of distributing the works abroad, Chakava had the daunting task of distributing them.

The risk came from the fact that Ngugi, in the 70s, was deemed as anti-government, controversial and a rebel. And that came with a stigma. And isolation. And the reward came because Ngugi’s books were intellectually and commercially rewarding as a recognised name.  

When, in 1980 word spread that Chakava was about to publish Ngugi’s book, Caitani Mutharabaini, (Devil on the Cross) written in detention, he started receiving threatening phone calls. When the aggrieved parties – suspected to be government agents – saw that he was unrelenting, they decided to move their dastardly action to the next level; assassination. Chakava was waylaid as he was about to enter his Lavington home, by thugs armed with all manner of crude weapons. He was only saved by headlights of an oncoming vehicle. The thugs dispersed but not before a machete, aimed at his head, almost severed his small finger.

Education Issues News publishing

How Matiang’i won the battle to put books in the hands of poor pupils

When former Education Cabinet Secretary, Fred Matiang’i realised that corrupt booksellers and head teachers were pilfering money meant for the purchase of textbooks, he instituted a number of measures that cut off booksellers from the textbooks’ gravy train, leaving head teachers high and dry and pupils in public schools quite happy.

Publishers, he ordered, would henceforth deliver books direct to schools, bypassing booksellers in the process.

By doing so, Matiang’i hit two birds with one stone. He saved the government tonnes of money meant to purchase the books, as the government bought the books at highly discounted prices. He also ensured that each pupil in public schools got a book for each subject.

At one point, President Uhuru Kenyatta, while flagging off books to be delivered to schools, wondered why the books had all over sudden become so affordable.

Well, we have the answer. Once the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) approves the books for use in schools, publishers participate in a tendering process, whereby the lowest priced bid wins the tender and gets to supply books directly to schools, at the cost of publishers.

Ever since the bidding process began, publishers have been known to severely undercut each other with a single book being sold by as low as sh40! A similar book, when sold in the open market (private schools market) goes for as much as sh500.

Publishers might explain the basement low prices with the argument that since booksellers have been knocked off the value chain, the 30 per cent discount normally given to booksellers, has been knocked off the cost of buying the book. Still, the prices they are bidding at the tender are simply too low.

However, our discussions with players in the industry revealed that things are not so rosy with the publishers and that the lowering of the bids is a deliberate tactic, aimed at securing the publishers’ interests when it comes to selling the books in the open market (read the private schools market.)

While the government will buy the books, to be distributed in public schools, at ridiculously low prices, the ones used in private schools are sold at market rates, and here booksellers are involved.

This is how it works: Once a book has been approved by KICD, it is then published in the Orange Book, meaning that all schools, following the soon-to-be discarded 8-4-4 system and the newly introduced Competence Based Curriculum (CBC), have no option other than to use that book. Thus, while the publishers might suffer some losses while selling their books in the public schools, they hope to recoup some of their investments when they sell the book in the open market.

Thus, the low bidding is a tactic to lock the market for these books, for as long as they will be used in schools.

This now becomes the pitfall of publishers putting all their eggs in one basket – the school market as opposed to general readership books. Here, as long as the government funds education in Kenya, it will continue calling the shots.

This is case of he who pays the piper calling the tune. Publishers will have to put up with the whims of the government for now and on the brighter side, pupils in public schools, some of who would not have afforded the books are the current beneficiaries.

The corrupt head teachers who used to shortchange the process can only twiddle their thumbs knowing that they have been outsmarted. The same case applies to crooked booksellers who used to collude with the head teachers.   

Issues News Personalities

Sheng has a bright future; haters will hate

Many bad things have been written and said about Sheng particularly on the ‘harmful’ effects it has on examinable subjects like English and Kiswahili. It has severally been claimed, especially by educationists, that poor performances in these two languages can be traced to the malign effect of Sheng.

Prof Kang'ethe
Prof Kang’ethe

However, Prof Frederick Kang’ethe, who teaches French at USIU and who has done extensive research in Sheng, holds a different view. “That is an intellectually lazy way of looking at things,” he says. “How is it that a language that has never been taught in school is now threating established languages that are taught up to university level? No language is responsible for the problems of another language.”

“Maybe we need to interrogate our teaching methods and establish how effective they are as well as the motivation for teaching these languages,” explains Prof Kang’ethe adding that those currently criticising Sheng are engaging in a futile exercise as Sheng is here to stay; besides, it has a very bright future. He wonders why an overwhelming majority of advertisements on Kenyan TV are done in Sheng if the language is as useless as we are made to believe.

He gives the evolvement of the French language as an example of why the blanket dismissal of Sheng is misinformed. “Before French came to be accepted as the international language of diplomacy Latin was the recogised as the formal mode of communication,” he explains. “French, at the time, was derisively referred to as vulgar Latin, since it was the simplified version of Latin.”

However, with time, French became more popular among the people and the result is that it became a fully-fledged language while the mother language (Latin) died. Similarly, according to Prof Kang’ethe, Kiswahili runs the risk of being consigned to the dustbin by Sheng. “Sheng should be viewed as colloquial Kiswahili and just like we have colloquial English co-existing alongside formal English, Kiswahili should learn to co-exist with Sheng,” he explains.

Prof Kang’ethe, who has also published on Sheng, dismisses the notion that Sheng keeps changing and therefore cannot be described as a standard language. “Contrary to popular belief, Sheng has quite an enduring vocabulary,” he explains. “Look at the words Chapaa or Fathee for example; these words are as old as sheng itself but are now back in use. Just like in other languages, words that do not hold are discarded.”

He even insists that there are some aspects where Sheng is more advanced than Kiswahili. He gives the example of classification of humans and animals. “It is generally accepted that humans should not be classified with animals and that it why English use ‘it’ to describe animals, unlike Kiswahili which gives animals human qualities,” explains Prof. Kang’ethe. “Kiswahili will say Mbwa amelala just like it will say Kamau amelala. Sheng on the other hand will say Dogie imelala, thereby giving it a distinction from humans.” This, he adds, is more in line with human logic.

And that is precisely why he will stick out his neck and say that Sheng has grammar. “Dogie imelala is correct grammar while Dogie amelala is bad grammar. I know sheng detractors will hate me for this but it just has to be said.”


Events Issues News Personalities Releases

Brace yourselves for SK Macharia’s explosive autobiography

S.K. Macharia is a household name in Kenya today. If there is one word that can sufficiently describe the man, then that word is tenacity. Here is one man who decided that he was going to build a media empire and went ahead to build one.

His dream, Royal Media Services, was hatched during the reign of retired President Moi. Those who know how Moi operated will tell you that it was the very wrong time to establish a media outfit, especially for a man who was perceived to be anti-establishment.

At one point Macharia’s broadcasting equipment were seized by the State, thereby switching the fledgling Citizen TV off air. This was not enough to deter SK, as he is known to many. Come 2002, Citizen TV had become so popular among ordinary Kenyans that it became the official mouthpiece of the Narc campaign, which was to send the then ruling party Kanu, packing.

The State broadcaster, KBC, which was being used by the government to relay Kanu propaganda, had lost the trust of Kenyans. It has yet to recover.

Despite a minor blip when the ODM juggernaut perceived the station to be pro Kibaki’s Banana wing in the campaigns for the constitutional referendum, in 2005, Citizen TV is the channel with the highest ratings in Kenya today.

You will also recall that incident when after Patrick Quarco’s Radio Africa poached a number of radio announcers from Royal Media’s Citizen Radio. What happened after that? Frequencies for Radio Africa’s stations, namely, Kiss and Classic were severely tampered with, leading to Radio Africa lodging a complaint with the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK). It was alleged that Macharia and Citizen were behind the whole mess.

You should also bear in mind that SK has the memory of an elephant; he does not forget it if you cross his paths. He has a reputation of being a tenacious litigant. If you doubt me, ask retired President Moi and most recently Justice Martha Koome. SK, who recently celebrated his 70th birthday, is also reputed to be very faithful to his friends, and that is why you will find a number of people in his companies, whose sole reason for earning a pay check is their friendship to SK.

In short, what I am trying to say is that SK’s life is quite colourful, and would make for great reading. And that is precisely why Moran Publishers are set to release his autobiography, aptly titled Tenacious Courage. David Muita, the managing director of Moran Publishers says the book should be released to the public by the end of the month.

“Readers should brace themselves for a very interesting book,” says Muita. “First and foremost SK is a very inspirational figure both to the young people and aspiring businesspeople.” And for the young ones Moran will be releasing a junior edition of the book at a later date.

With the release of SK’s book, one thing is clear though, it is going to be a major talking point, especially now that the country is caught up in the throes of next year’s watershed elections.

We predict that a few people will threaten to go to court. Yes, it is that explosive!

Events Issues News

Finally, someone won Sh1 million; from writing!

Anthony Mugo is probably the richest author in Kenya today. On Friday evening he won Sh1 million in the inaugural Burt Award for African Writing. The Burt Award, administered by the National Book Development Council of Kenya (NBDCK), is the richest literary award in Kenya’s history. His manuscript titled Never say Never has been published by Longhorn Publishers and is out on sale.

The Burt Award is a partnership effort between NBDCK and the Canadian Organisation for Development through Education (CODE), with the support of a Canadian patron Mr. Bill Burt, after whom the prize is named. The award is aimed at encouraging authorship as well as a reading culture among Kenyan children.

Anthony Mugo (center) receives a dummy check for Sh1 Million from Prof Chris Wanjala, that chairman of NBDCK (Right) and Mrs Ruth Odondi, the CEO of NBDCK. At left is Geoff Burt, son of Bill Burt, who graced the occasion.

37-year-old  Mugo, who until July was a credit officer with a micro finance company says writing is not new to him. “I have been writing for the last twenty years only that I have never been published,” he explains. In 2009, he participated in another NBDCK organised writing competition, where he won with his manuscript Too Innocent to Die. In 2010 he again participated and emerged victorious with another manuscript, Not a Drop. Mugo, who is married with two children graduated from Moi University with a BA in Economics.

Coming in at second position was Edward Mwangi, who took home Sh500,000. His manuscript, The Delegate, was published by Moran Publishers and is also on sale. The 32-year-old, who has just completed his MBA from Nairobi University, works as a general manager for an engineering company in Nairobi. Mwangi, who is also married with two children says his perseverance has finally paid off. “Every morning before I start working, I write for an hour and another hour after work,” he explains.

In third position was Ngumi Kibera, with his manuscript titled The Devil’s Hill, which is published by Longhorn. Mr Ngumi, who is an established author, won Sh250,000. He is not new to winning; His other book, The Grapevine Stories, a Collection of short stories, won the 1997 edition of the Jomo Kenyatta prize for Literature.

Ngumi is full of praises for the Burt Award saying that it is a timely effort that will take Kenyan writing to the next level. “There is a lot of writing talent in Kenya only that our publishers are not aggressive enough to tap them,” he said. “The fact that there were 400 submissions for this prize is testimony of raw writing talent out there waiting to be discovered.”

Also present during the awards ceremony, held at the Silver Spring Hotel,

Issues News Reviews

Blame it on Sheng…er, at your own risk

Whenever explanations are sought on poor performances, in English or Kiswahili, in national exams, Sheng is always on the surface waiting to be summoned, on short notice, and vilified for being such a diabolical influence on these two ‘pure’ languages.

Ever since it came into existence, Sheng has always been considered the bastard child in the family of Kenya’s languages. All ‘nice and proper’ Kenyan languages, including mother tongues, have a thing or two against Sheng.

That bile notwithstanding, today, Sheng has become the unofficial language of the masses. So popular has Sheng become almost every Kenyan wants to be identified with the language.

The popularity of Sheng has to do with its accommodative nature. It borrows generously from Kiswahili, English, and local Kenyan languages, thus there is something for every person who uses it. What is more, unlike other languages we know, Sheng does not discriminate according to class.

Maybe the scholars who are accusing Sheng of various ills should explain why a language not taught in schools is giving established languages like English, and Kiswahili, which are taught up to university level, sleepless nights.

Sheng came into existence sometime in the sixties and was invented, out of necessity, by young people who needed to understand each other and lock out patronizing adults from their conversations. It can be argued that Sheng is a product of early urbanization by Africans during the colonial period.

When the white man embarked on the colonial adventure he knew that in order to make the natives answerable to him he had to severe the cords that held together African communities. One way of doing this was by monetizing the economy and introducing mandatory taxation for every African adult. Africans were thus forced to seek employment in order to raise money with which to pay taxes.

And since Nairobi was the seat of government, Africans from different communities settled there in search of employment. Meanwhile these immigrants got children who in order relate with each other had to come up with a mode of communication that was acceptable to them. That is how they borrowed from English, Kiswahili and their native tongues, thereby giving birth to Sheng. Thus, at that time, Sheng served two major roles; one was a metaphorical meeting place between young people drawn from the various communities, and two as an avenue where they could discuss their own issues without having to worry about nosy adults.

Today, with the urbanization of other towns around the country, Sheng has been decentralized to a level where every urban centre has its version of the language. Now back to our question; why is a language picked up informally in the streets threatening languages that are taught in schools? Or to put it in another way, should languages teachers borrow a leaf from Sheng and make teaching of English and Sheng more interesting? One of the key attractions of Sheng is that apart from being quite expressive it is fun to use.

However, top of all, and what really freaks out educationists, is the fact that there are no rigid rules governing the usage of Sheng unlike in English and Kiswahili. I, for one, do not buy the argument that Sheng can affect performance in other languages. Recently, when Prof Ngugi wa Thiong’o was in the country for the Kwani Litfest, he said that in order to be proficient in any language one has to be patient and take time to study that it. Ngugi was responding to claims by some Kenyans that their local languages are ‘difficult’ to read.

“Even European children were not born with automatic knowledge of their language,” said Ngugi. “They have to go to school and learn their languages.” It is the same with Kiswahili and English. Students need to take keener interest in their studies in order to be proficient in those subjects.

Blaming Sheng is therefore a lazy man’s way of explaining things. It all boils down to discipline; knowing when to use what language; just like you can’t wear pajamas to work, or a suit to the shower.

And if Sheng is the evil that is made out to be, why are all companies falling over themselves to use it in their advertising slogans? Picture a copy writer, who grew up being told that Sheng is a language to be avoided at all costs, who now finds a bosses ordering them to come up with “appropriate phrases in Sheng!” Woe unto you if you followed the advice and avoided Sheng like the plague.

It is ironical that the scholars and educationists turning blue in the face badmouthing Sheng had no problem teaching Chinua Achebe’s Man of the People, a novel written almost entirely in Nigerian pidgin. Did you know that scholars in Europe and the US are so fascinated in the phenomenon that is Sheng that they are studying it at PhD level? You heard it right, PhD level! Don’t be surprised the next time you visit a prestigious university in the West and encounter a white Sheng expert, and they are many. And these so-called experts travel all the way to Kenya to do their research.

So, instead of giving Sheng a bad name, we should instead embrace it and milk it for all its worth. We could start by establishing research centres, where all those foreigners can pay to get information. Finally, and at the risk of being lynched by policy makers, I would suggest that some courses, like IT, be offered in Sheng. You would be surprised by how well it might be received. C’mon people, can’t we try something different for a change? It is President Obama who keeps mocking people who keep on doing the same things yet expecting different results.

Events Issues News Personalities

A Ngugi Nobel would really do us proud: Chakava

Henry Chakava, the man who almost lost his finger for sticking out his neck for Ngugi wa Thiong’o, purrs with pride at the prospect of his star writer winning the coveted Nobel Prize for Literature. “I feel very proud,” says Chakava the Chairman of East African Educational Publishers (EAEP), who are Ngugi’s Kenyan publishers. “It is not everyday that someone gets to win the Nobel, least of all an African.” If Ngugi wins, Chakava says that it will be a recognition of a long and deserved struggle for Ngugi: “It will be a crowning achievement for a person who has written consistently from the sixties to this moment,” says Chakava who persisted in publishing Ngugi even when it was patently clear that his controversial ideas had made him public enemy number one for the Kenyan government. It is this stubbornness that led to thugs attacking him outside his residence. The message was clear he had to stop publishing Ngugi or else… Chakava alludes to this in his book Publishing in Africa: One Man’s Perspective, in a chapter titled Publishing Ngugi: The Challenge, the Risk and the Reward; “There have been many threats, direct or indirect, that I or my company has suffered because of the association with Ngugi… It is not for me to tell you how Ngugi himself has suffered, but it has obviously been on a much larger scale; and it is that suffering that still keeps him in exile today.” The book was published in 1996. He adds: “In the years 1977 to 1982 – before and after Ngugi’s detention – we spent much time together,” Chakava writes. “The University of Nairobi administration had refused to allow him to resume his teaching duties, so I gave him a desk at my office, where he could do his writing.” He adds: “In spite of the problems I have been through, my association with Ngugi has been very rewarding, both intellectually and commercially. I must admit that my linkage with Ngugi in particular, has played an important part in establishing and enhancing my reputation and that of EAEP as the leading fiction publisher in the region.” Chakava explains that Ngugi is a writer who is not afraid to take risks. He recall one such moment when Ngugi decided to drop his Christian name James to start using Ngugi wa Thiong’o. “Our bosses then at Heinemann UK were alarmed at the decision, they asked if it was possible to use James Ngugi in brackets but Ngugi flatly refused,” says Chakava. He adds that if Ngugi wins the Nobel it would lift the morale of EAEP and help motivate young writers. “We will definitely reissue all his books,” he says. “He will clearly now be an international figure and it will be easier for us to promote him.”