Celebrating East African Writing!
Everyone has their story. Everyone has issues. You have to face your fears. ~ Lisa Bonet
In 1971, very nearly everyone lived in a rural setting here in Kenya. Sure, a few people worked, and some children schooled in urban areas, but even the closest settlements near the main business centres were in rural areas. Just a mention – Kikuyu, Thika, Ngong settlements less than 25 kilometres from Nairobi CBD were farmland areas in 1990 but are as we speak booming towns growing at incredible rates. One demographics index states that in 2010 Kenya had an urbanisation percentage of 22%. It might seem like a small figure until you realise that that percentage represents more than 9 million people.
9 million people; 9 million stories. 9 million stories about life, work, relationships, challenges, successes, human nature; love, hate, jealousy, friendship, corruption, justice… set against the backdrop of an urban landscape.
That would explain why people crave urban fiction, and on the darker side street lit. The truth is, many city dwellers, the ones who love to read just for pleasure, when given the option of stories set in 1900 rural Kenya and 21st century urban New York, they would go for 21st Century NY.
Ah, the uproar. We want our stories. Sure, we do. A while ago, the argument would have been that Kenyan writers just don’t have the umph that excites the followers of urban lit. It would probably have been true. But it isn’t absolutely true right now. There are writers who have risen to the challenge, who have captured the true Kenyan culture against the backdrop of technological advances and cultural evolution. I’ll give you a few examples for your pleasure in just a bit.
But it is also true that there is a bit of a lag in the translation from creation to availability. Now there is a lot that can be done, by publishers as well as authors, and perhaps you have some thoughts on this, so please feel free to comment below.
In the meantime, allow me to share with you three pieces of urban fiction. Now note some of these pieces are a lot longer than the 1600 word limit, but that is because the authors agreed to let us use their works as exemplars here. Feel free to read and comment. Then send in your own urban fiction story not less than 1200 words not more than 1600 words by Friday 25th November 2011 to firstname.lastname@example.org
So here goes for Urban Fiction:
Before we go:
That said, next week is Fabulous-on-the-blog-week that time when we celebrate great writing posted on blogs by Kenyans everywhere. You can nominate a post or blog, just drop me a line at email@example.com
In the meantime, have a wonderful week and happy reading!