Celebrating East African Writing!

A Reading Nation – Storymoja Writers’ Blog

There was a joke, and I hated it; that if you wanted to hide money from a black Kenyan, you’d just have to hide it in a book.

I grew up on books. My mother made sure I had books. My brothers loved to read. By the time I was 7 I wanted to read what my brothers 10+ years older than me, and my cousins were reading. I remember them hiding their crime and romance novels from me and me developing a system for keeping track of them so I’d know where they possibly might have hid them.

Basically, if you want to hide money from me, make sure it’s in a book that I have already read and expressed a low opinion of its content. Otherwise, books don’t remain unread in my house, and I reread the ones I like.

I hope this is the same for you. With regards to this, allow me to tell you about the Kenyan Reading Revolution – An Initiative of Storymoja Africa and The Kenya National Library Services.

I know I promised to tell you about How to Write a Kenyan Romance. But I will be doing that next week along with the Poetry of the Month. Be sure to send in your poetry on time to Make sure you mark your subject line with Poetry Exhibition.

To spark the imagination of our nation, and excite Kenyans about books, ideas and creativity, we propose to stage a spectacular, historic event! With your help, we can unite the nation in an audacious attempt to break the Guinness World Record for “Most Number of People Reading Aloud Simultaneously in a Single Location.” The record is currently held by Turkey at 15,440 people.

We aim to rally 20,000 people into a stadium in June 2011 to break this record in front of international judges from the Guinness World Record.

Ten-week reading marathon as build up to the World Record attempt.

We propose that children and adults register and participate in a ten week long Reading Marathon (April-June) immediately prior to the World Record attempt. For every four books they read, they will seek a sponsor to donate a book to either the new Kenya National Services (KNLS) library in Buru Buru, or to a school. Registration for the Reading Marathon will take place in schools, institutions, organisations and companies. Educational institutions will be visited by our Reading Revolutionaries. Members of the public can register online, or via SMS. Each participant will then come with their favourite book to the stadium to participate in the World Record attempt.

Key Objectives for the campaign – attitudes, access and information

  • To create awareness about the role of non-text reading in nurturing a knowledge and creativity culture necessary for social mobility, well-being and economic development.
  • To create excitement around reading, increase awareness about the value of reading for pleasure, with the aim of improving attitudes towards reading, and contributing to a robust reading culture in Kenya.
  • To increase access of appropriate and enjoyable reading materials through the stocking of libraries with local and international books, and to assist in identifying reading materials that Kenyans find releavant and enjoyable.
  • To collect information about reading habits in Kenya, as well as factors influencing how Kenyans read, so as to understand the current reading culture in Kenya. The data will then form a baseline report, with recommendations to help guide policy and future programming.

Targets and Goals

  • 20,000 children from 100 schools directly registered to take part in the Reading Marathon
  • 5,000 adults and children from organisations and institutions participating in Reading Marathon
  • 20,000 Kenyans to gather to break the record
  • 125,000 books read in the 10 week Reading Marathon
  • 25,000 new books donated through the Reading Marathon to schools and KNLS – Buru Buru Library
  • 20,000 new books donated through World Record Attempt to stock KNLS – Buru Buru Library
  • Kenya to hold the record for “the most number of people reading aloud simultaneously in one location”

Key Benefits of associating with the World Record Attempt, and the Reading Revolution:

–          Opportunity to communicate/influence approximately 20,000 people expected to attend the Guinness World Record Attempt

–          Opportunity to hobnob with leaders from different spheres drawn from sponsors, guests, panellists and other leaders at the World Record Attempt, who will be part of the Reading Revolution

–          Opportunity to be associated with breaking a World Record, and put Kenya in the history pages.

–          Opportunity to support and be instrumental in nurturing a future generation of ‘thinkers, and participating in a paradigm shift, to help move Kenya forward in its growth and development.

–          Associating with the ethos of encouraging creativity, innovation, knowledge and ideas as part of the brand identity

We will be putting up a page very soon where you can register for all the events leading up to the world record attempt, as well as for the main event itself. You will be required to fill in your details, as well as the books that you have actually read, books you are pledging to read during the 10 week marathon and books that you would like to donate. You will also have the opportunity to submit short revies of books that you have read and loved. So be ready for the shotgun!

Help Kenya break a world record…in reading!

Let’s now spend a little time on the story showcase for this week. We have a record 7 stories that qualified for the exhibit! Please read them all and vote for each.

  1. The People’s Republic of Thige: It’s Thige and his ‘family’ that’s what they call themselves. I know what they will do, they will surround me, laugh and make jokes at how I never blink and then they will claim I collected the bottles from their side of the dumpsite, ‘The Peoples Republic of Thige’.
  2. Intruders Part 3: Jack the Raper came back sparkling clean after the hot shower. He was in her bathrobe. A foreboding indication to her that her fate was sealed. Yet, instead of going straight for her, he headed into the bedroom.
  3. Two Hundred and Nineteen Days: Perfect handling. Zero discomfort; the falling bread man barely scratched my silver baby, I looked over my shoulder, curious of his fate, and that was why I did not see Bobby. And I sure did send him flying through the air. He died long before he hit the ground.
  4. Kulipa Ushuru ni Kujitegemea: I hear that there are around 222 guys who can feed the whole nation with their monthly earnings, as a matter of speaking, of course. But word is around that they have refused to pay ‘Ushuru’, does that mean, ‘hawajitegemei’?
  5. Madam: Momanyi always woke up with a startle and vigor for the new day. He loved his work. But no! Wait a minute. Was it the work or his beautiful madam? He always couldn’t understand it himself.
  6. Holding on – Dear Doris: I write this with utmost sadness. As I write this letter I am totally in the balance about where our relationship sits. I wrote you two letters early last week which went unreplied. I am trying to figure out what is going on but I have nothing.
  7. The Decision: A small interlude of strangled silence passed by. Then an unnatural croak followed by a long-drawn sigh which lingered on too long for my comfort. Then finally utter stillness– more ominous and eerie than the wind…

February’s writing Contest is titled Fan Fiction.

You have three weeks to write and submit your piece to the blog.

The Fan Fiction genre is described in various ways. It could be described as fiction written about a fan of a certain fictional story. For example; someone could write about the effect that watching the CSI Franchise TV series has had on my thinking. (I think I could commit the perfect crime. Ha!)

It could also be a fictional story written by a fan of a fictional story, perhaps highlighting on a character in said story aside from the main protagonist and anatagonist. For example; After reading The Last of the Breed by Louis L’Amour I would really have liked to know the mystery of the character names Yakev. He only appeared briefly, wearing ragged clothes and carrying an AK-47, to give the main character in the story directions to a hidden village in the woods somewhere between Siberia and the Beiring Strait . So perhaps I would write Yakev’s story.

Your job is to choose a fictional story in film or in literature, and choose a character on whom you will base your short story. Alternatively, you can describe the life of a fan of the chosen story. If you choose this latter option, you must clearly show how the chosen story plays a part in the plot of your fan fiction.

There are 5 other rules for both choices.

  1. Keep your WORD COUNT to a minimum of 1000 words and a maximum of 1500 words.
  2. Your story MUST be set in KENYA.
  3. Include a short description of the book that forms the basis of the story. Like this: This story is based on The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, a story about a young Latina girl, Esperanza Cordero, growing up in the Chicago Chicano ghetto.
  4. Please make sure you title your work, and include your author name under that title. Double check for typos and spelling mistakes.
  5. 5. You must submit your story before the DEADLINE which is SUNDAY, 13th February 2011 by emailing your story to with a clearly marked Subject line reading FAN FICTION:[titleof your work]


1st Place: KES 1000 Airtime and a Storymoja Book of your choice.

2nd Place KES 500 Airtime

3rd Plce KES 200 Airtime



This entry was posted on January 24, 2011 by in Writer's Blog.
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