Celebrating East African Writing!

Why I Read – The Storymoja Writers’ Blog

As you may know, the Storymoja and KNLS campaign for a ‘reading revolution’ is already well under way. It will include the world record attempt at ‘most people reading aloud simultaneously’. This will be on June 16th. Immediately after, the Reading Marathon will begin, and will include the fulfilment of pledges to complete reading four books between June 16 and September 15, and the book drives to collect books which will go to the KNLS libraries as well as to schools that need books.

I thought it would be great to set the mood for this week, by sharing from Claudette Oduor’s (of The Red Bindi at Diwali fame) Why I read – My book Revolution.


I never fell in love with books. I jaywalked in love with them, haphazardly crossing Nairobi streets with my eyes gobbling up words. How intriguing books were. How could entire cities fit in there? How could I see horses galloping across the pages, and yet not a single word had moved?

The people inside books had such odd concerns. Like the people in Pride and Prejudice -the Bennetts- how could such rich-sounding people claim to be so poor and unfortunate?

The books of my childhood were all about chartering my young mind. They were also about looking for friends to keep me company in the hovels of my loneliness.

Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women gave me a bunch of sisters. Meg, Amy and Beth March were always there for me. Jo March wasn’t there for me; she was me. She was ludicrous and clumsy and unaware. Like me, she wanted to be a writer, and that’s about the only thing she was sure about herself.

I read books set in the prairies, about Indians and pilgrims and pioneers, of savages, of girls who only had buttons as souvenirs of their boyfriends’ love. I wept!

And then I threw those books out because I realized that I didn’t need to get ulcers just because Edward had lost the silk handkerchief that had Love, J. S embroidered in the corner. For one, I couldn’t even imagine how a handkerchief could be made of silk. How practical is that, really?

My literary palate converged towards books whose characters I could relate with. I was growing up. People claimed I was a young woman. I didn’t feel like one though (young, maybe, but a woman? I didn’t even remember feeling like a child). At this point in my life, out of respect for my age group (let’s call it that and not peer pressure), I read Judy Blume and Francine Pascal.

Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret was my first ever Judy Blume text. In it I was sorely reminded that I was a young woman (there was too much talk of Tampax and bras *gag*). In Sweet Valley, the Wakefield twins had boyfriend trouble from when they were eight! Do you know what I was doing when I was eight? I was a long distance runner; running to keep up with my dad’s long steps.

I delved into the riveting world of crime fiction.Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys kept me up each night. Forget CSI and NCIS. These characters invented the art of finding an eyelash inside a dumpster.

… In books I found a home for my homeless heart. Books taught me the tenets of tolerance and respect. I learnt love and peace and strength. Books taught me how not to be ashamed of being a young woman, how to embrace the person that I am and the person I am destined to be.

Read the entire piece at The Reading Revolution. Find Claudette on Twitter: @Soul_fool


So, why do you read? If you’d like to share your thoughts, please send in a short piece, no more than 600 words and include a photo of yourself reading, by yourself or with family and friends. If we like your piece it will be added to The Reading Revolution’s Why I read Page. (You will also find the link to the registration page on the upper right hand column.)

And now allow me to send you to this week’s readings. Please remember to vote on all stories, and to offer constructive critique.

1. The Delivery Guy: His face shows that he died a very shocked man. It is now 8am. Sit back and I will tell you why Kimani is lying dead in a trench right  in the middle of Africa‘s largest slum.

2. A Reminiscence: The phone rang. The high-pitched ring tone pieced the stillness like staccato gun burst shattering my thoughts. At the fifth vibration, I picked it up.

3. Returning Home: I always preferred dealing with the landlord’s wife, Mrs Kamau, as opposed to the husband. The old lady, with her evident rural upbringing …

If you would like your work to be featured here, please send in your short story to by midday of every Sunday.


DATE: Saturday 26th

TIME: 4: 00 PM

CHARGES: Ksh 1000 advanced tickets (before 20th March) and Ksh 1,500 at the gate

Advanced payment by M-pesa should be made payable to 0715 917 013

Dear fellow writers,

Have you had more rejections than expected each time you send your articles to Magazines and Newspapers?


Want to break into the Magazine and Newspaper market but don’t know where to start from?


This is your time. Editors are hungry and waiting for your articles but ONLY IF YOU GET THEIR RULES RIGHT!

GREATEST RULE: DO NOT SEND UNSOLICITED MANUSCRIPTS; and editors try as much to request you obey this rule. They keep on indicating in their disclaimer pages – yet you are determined to break it over and over again. This leads to an absolute rejection, unless it is the greatest article on earth! Stop all the speculations, learn the rules and get it right! Invest only this small amount plus three hours and increases chances of editors accepting your work. Among topics to be covered include;

Studying the market – Understanding their angle and “house style”. Pitching your article ideas to editors. Writing good query letters and outlines that will make you a professional. Dealing with rejections. And much more.

Go here for more info:

Don’t forget to join the Reading Revolution! Have a great week ahead!


One comment on “Why I Read – The Storymoja Writers’ Blog

  1. Noella
    May 28, 2011

    I like to read as well as write and am just realizing how we have some great writers in our country. Keep up the good work its quite inspiring.


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This entry was posted on March 14, 2011 by in Writer's Blog.
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