Growing up, I hardly got to be introduced to Kenyan authors as much as I was to foreign ones. My bedtime stories were barely folktales or of African adventures.
I grew up knowing stories that did not prevail in my world, Kenyan or Africa at large. My dreams were encompassed with fairy tales and magical beings. I had made a rapport with all the beautiful stories that never reminded me of who I was.
I was young, confident, hungry for stories but not enthusiastic for my true self, true belonging and my place in my Kenyan society.
My dreams and hopes of being an educator one day were greatly favoured by my love of reading, Thanks to the amazing books that taught me being a “woman of letters” and of more words is the only way to go.
I fell in love with words and stories and big words and lengthy stories to say! I practised my oration in English and forced people to decipher my shattered English. I would cry thereon if nobody conceded, my parents, say.
I absorbed myself in the world of books that got me a flaw, looks sort of a birthmark on my upper left cheek. I was reading that night using the only source of light that would accommodate reading, a pressure lantern, not sure if I can use it for reading at the moment. I had bent too close to it, considering I was little and wanted enough light on my next page next minute,…cries…I got burned! I still wear the scar to date as nothing happened. It reminds me of my passion for letters.
Reading gave me purpose.
Then I got introduced to writing. At the age of 10, I wrote amazing stories and they got better by the day. I was fully determined with my writing that you could wake me up in the middle of the night and I would construct an interesting sentence. I made up some expressions that aided in my composition writing.
Writing gave me life.
I read Kenyan stories, I loved listening to storytellers who had their ways of catching my attention. I lived for those sessions with my classmate, the storyteller. On some days I doubted if they were true even though she insisted that they were. Those stories broadened my imagination. I told myself if she can make stories out of nowhere then definitely I can also make mine! I can write.
Here, I read more Kenyan writers, I had yet been introduced to my “now” favourite Kenyan author, Meja Mwangi. I read a lot of Kiswahili novels, short stories and poems. Then a few English ones. The river and the source by Margaret Ogola was the longest novel I first read by a Kenyan author.
Although The fault in our stars was the first American novel I ever read, I feel soo inclined to our stories more.
🇰🇪Kenyan Stories made me.
Our stories can save us, and they truly did. I am reminded daily by what our authors write, I consider their stories more than the language they choose to write them in. Just like any other person would try to find their way back home, our stories have done best. Ngugi Wa Thiong’o has taught us the power of the mind, Margaret Ogola put women in the order of the day. Meja Mwangi creates humour, wondrous humour and lessons come with it, a true reflection of where we came from and where we are headed.
Our tales are written to live not to sell, our heritage, our true selves are conserved in our publications. I trust that our current troubles can be maintained by our books If we trust.
Books have saved me, Letters keep saving me.