Celebrating East African Writing!
When I was in High School, I was this kid who was mostly lost in her own mind. Rugby had a little power over me. The Golden Boy (a story for another conversation) might have grappled just a little bit with Rugby. But the books won most of the fights; with me lost in words.
You know those kids who love numbers so much they get lost reading them on signs, vehicle number plates and passing buses, and then try to rearrange them in their heads in ways they thought would be much more fun? Well, I did that with words. I even survived a whole 2 hours of commuting to and from school; by reading the newspaper the guy in front of me in the bus was reading, and then trying to rearrange the headlines in much more interesting 6 word lines. I did the same thing with the ads, too.
I wasn’t too surprised when one of my very first jobs, maybe third or fourth job, was at a subscription message centre. My job? Rearranging inspirational quotes, beauty tips, ads and job callouts into fun and catchy 160 character messages. I didn’t last too long there. I have issues with abbreviations.
I love words. I marvel at the power of words. Just a little rearranging here and then and words can mean a whole lot of things.
Words can be the difference between an insult and critique. Words can be the difference between just plain tagging, and creative street poetry. (I think you can be arrested for vandalism if you try either.) Words are the difference between the little smile on my lips when I read the Golden Boy’s little ‘Jules-stay-out-trouble-this-week’ notes, and the creepy-crawly that makes me shiver with disgust when my very persistent stalker sends me email.
The words you use, they way you arrange them, that’s the difference between the breathtaking Editor’s Picks we have had here and just any other submissions.
The Red Bindi on Diwali by Claudette Oduor
Freedom’s Ribbon by Ombongi Neyole
Her Father’s Friend by Pauline Odhiambo
Netflix By Mwangi Ichungwa
Don’t just throw words on a piece of paper and expect that they’ll get your reader from point A of your story to Z.
If you love words, as much as I do, as much as Claudette, Ombongi, Pauline and Mwangi, then you’ll take the time to get to know them.
With familiarity you will be able to play and work with words; draw rainbows in the sky, sketch the dusty side road in the ghetto on a cold hard morning, create the tinkle of a child’s giggle, sound out the tears of a desperate housewife, amplify the taste of the delicious Black Forest Tangawizi cake, magnify the taste of a bad case of hangover on a Monday morning, paint the crushing pain at a loved one’s funeral and reflect the smiles of friends together after a long week of hard work.
Take the time.
So this week’s Editor’s Pick is A Dog Above the Best by Thomas Kipruto: I cannot say dog, without using the name friend in the same line. Let’s just say I’m a friend of dogs; no, just one –Rex.
Then we have Daughter of Destiny: She donned the red skirt today. Not that she had any particular fascination with it or its colour, but that it was a short way above the knees and hugged her lower body tightly revealing the well rounded derriere…
Intruders Part 2: She learnt the hard way the Jamaican saying that ‘chicken merry, hawk de near’ when she came face to face in her own kitchen, lurking in the shadows, the rapist who had made his escape, munching away food as if he was in his own house.
Love; From Down Under: The tinkling of the glasses clearly indicated the pastor and his catch were having a drink and I could clearly guess it wasn’t the blood of Jesus, what a scoop this would have been!
The Enemy Within: Mark Mutua had woken up earlier than usual. This was despite the fact that he had gone to bed very late the previous night and he had also been tired. The work was rearly overwhelming…
“A painter told me that nobody could draw a tree without in some sort becoming a tree; or draw a child by studying the outlines of its form merely . . . but by watching for a time his motions and plays, the painter enters into his nature and can then draw him at every attitude . . .” — Ralph Waldo Emerson