Celebrating East African Writing!


It’s still day time, so the twilight madams have not ventured abroad. All is safe (for the time being) as the nocturnal she-kens hibernate like the fiery-loined kittens they are.     

The Story moja family is converging at the airy Tea Spot Restaurant for their word-eating, mike-biting,poetry-corrupting and lyrical-assassinating session. The assembled participants look menacing and raring to go.     

Next to me is seated the husky-voiced, sexily-dressed Classic 105 fm presenter, Valentine Njoroge. She is taking a late breakfast(or, is it a brunch?) at way past one. At least today she has forgotten to fill her lungs with grey-black nicotine. No one is toucing booze today. Do they sell the guzzle here? A few participants are irrigating their drought-stricken gullets with Alvaro waters.      

Anthony Mwangi aka Anto, in his cricket-inspired shrill voice, is giving a cacophonous rendition. Is that music or is it  (dis)-organised noise? I then see the recent Lang’ata Women’s Prison graduate-turned-writer, Saga MacOdongo. Ain’t Luo sistos just as crazy as their Nigerian brodas on matters puffy-puffing?      

Great narratives are sing-songed hither-thither, carelessly-ceaslessly. We laugh without feeling, even as we see sightlessly. There’s a great sense of camaraderie in this a place. Good Jehovah!      

 Woodvale Grove, Westlands. Anciently known as the Electric Avenue. It has  a proud display of guzzle holes (or, are they brothels? ) from the Crooked-really-Q to wherever. Havana Clubbed somewhere misty.       

Woodvale Groove. Das Ethiopian Restaurant. Story Moja. Whatever do they have in common? Good-hearted Amharic-spitting shebeen queens, chang’aa-inspired walevis staggering in spittle and the inevitable literary gangstas. Tony Mochama the Smitta leads the motley crew in keeping a-burn the ancien regime’s fire. But, woe-begone, why is the self-proclaimed Tsar of Vladivostok –and his Tsarina from St. Petersburg –sipping a harmless Alvaro?  So, all that talk of being the first ever and only after vodka taster-guzzler was sheer hogwash?     

Sorry, Stanley Gazemba but you had such a bad tremolo as you read to us your story. Proud winner of the Kenyatta prize in Literature. Did someone hit you with a stone from the Hills of Maragoli? As to Onduko Bw’atebe, Shann Bartley gave him such a bashing he was left blushing un-abashedly like a cornered coy rabbit. Shann, the wizardess from (not of ) Oz — the world down under the sea level form Queensland to New South Wales, Perth and wherever else —gave him the much desired verdict of death.        

The barrenness of literature persists. We have strived to vindicate the assertions of Prof. Taban Lo Liyong.      

I dare say that poetry is supposed to be lyrical just as music ought to have a poetic super-structure.But, pray, who gives a hole-in-the-ground?    

I saw a group of guys munching the chapati-like injera. I once tasted this bland dish in college at Etabizanahu’s roomafter an invite.She later on flew without wings to Uncle Sam’s backyard.      

In my sojourn in the land of storymania, I’ve occasion to meet countless writers. The seven feet Gambian resident in Kenya, Dayo Forster once towered over me dwarfing me like a Congolese pygmy. And she talked like one eating groundnuts. Did she learn this from their peanut plantations?    

Doreen Baingana looked as sweet as a ripe plantain. But this facade belied a tough-as-nails writer with a no-holds-barred writing mien. Need I say more? A real tropical fish this lady. Muthoni Garland. Is she Ngugi wa Thiongo’s literary daughter? Juliet Maruru, we need to continue writing furiously.     

Preaching, preaching, preaching. Who is giving the sermon? Writers of whatever categories and genres ought to get married to their own styles. Stop copy-catting. Let the muse flow from Mount Olympus and then course through your literary veins. Creative writers usually die poor but their legacies live on.     

Let’s cultivate a culture of writing serious books, articles and essays. Writing shouldn’t be for it’s own sake but for it’s aesthetic values. Again, we should create longevity in all our works. How then is it that we still today read works by Wordsworth, Leo Tolstoy, Dosteyovsky, Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift, William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, et al? It’s about the quality of the written word, coupled with a dose of that rare genius inherent in each one of us in varying quantities. Your writing should introduce you wherever you go. Are you that type of writer who, after being introduced, makes the crowd go ‘aaah–ooooh!’ with exaggerated excitement? 

Finally, try writing in as many genres as possible so as to ascertain the one you are gifted in. Don’t force yourself into a genre which makes you a whacky writer. Choose from poetry, the novel(la), short story, memoir, biography, essay, faction—-a mixture of facts and fiction—children’s writing,mystery writing, crime fiction,conspiracy theory, ad infinitum.    

Put pen to paper, or trembling fingers onto the computer keyboard and write for posterity’s sake.

Opinions expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Storymoja.


One comment on “FROM K-STREET TO THE ELECTRIC AVENUE by Denis Okeyo

  1. moses abukutsa
    February 17, 2009

    Indeed we should write creative works not for their sake.


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