ANECDOTES from Michella Wrong’s ‘ITS OUR TURN TO EAT’ readings by Khainga Okwemba

I was not able to make it for the book reading of Michella Wrong’s ‘Its our turn to eat’ at the Kenya National Theatre due to some hitches.
I have however gotten a review of the even from Khainga Okwemba, a fellow poet and an official of PEN International Kenya.

On Sunday June 14, 2009 Kenyans came in their numbers to read and discuss Michela Wrong’s book ITS OUR TURN TO EAT.

The Main Hall of the Kenya National Theatre was packed to the full. The balcony up the top was full to the brim. And we were obliged to pleaded with the surging crowd to bare with us, if only they could follow the preceedings from wherever and take part via the mics.
The days leading to this event had been marked with anxiety.
Still, a group of Kenyan writers under the auspices of International PEN Kenya Chapter braved ahead to make it happen. And when we first put up the posters we were not sure if we would wake the following day and find them all pulled down.
But we are just writers who thought it necessary to make this book available to the deprived members of society.
Until three months ago, nobody was willing to talk about ITS OUR TURN TO EAT. And when they did, it was hushed. But when Philo first brought the idea to PEN(K) we embraced it and put the wind in the sails.

What happened yesterday is a somewhat quite revolution. Make no mistakes. This book was unofficially burned in Kenya. I remember Oketch Kendo, a senior editor with The Standard newspapers writing of the same while visiting South Africa early in the year to cover that country’s election.
So, are booksellers now ready and willing to sell the book? Writers as the conscience of society have done their bit by empowering them with information.
The Kenyan liberation struggle was fought on all fronts; intellectual, political and military. This repertoire of resilience, energy and enterprise cannot be depleted by a wishful government that is doubtful of its legitimacy.

Brief Anecdotes of the Day:
John Kiarie the MC of the day was the darling of the crowd and he was able to engage well with the massive crowd
Sheila Mwanyigha, the nightingale of the day was dressed in spotless red. This i thought for love. But also the colour of blood. And her music was amazing.
Philo Ikonya, carried a pot. The idea was to break it in a symbolic gesture to depart from the past and remould a new Kenya, what Omtatah called a new republic. But we did not have clay for that symbolic moulding and breaking would as well be equated by some as being destructive and that PEN(K) would be viewed as an anarchical movement.
Kingwa Kamencu, was dressed in a mournful black, this, i thought was poetical. The one name that was mentioned alongside that of John Githongo (living) was that of David Munyakei (dead).
Then Tony Mochama did a careful selection of the sections he would read, the way of poets, excerpts intended to prick the conscience of the public.
There was the photojournalist, Boniface Mwangi, novelist Moraa Gitaa, budding writer Renee Mboya all readers.

Whats more, i was apparelled in the militant dark T-S, the Kenyan garment of consciousness and resistance. I was the unlucky first to read, and i chose the part when John Githongo, the exile, unexpectedly knocks on the FLAT of the author Michela Wrong in London and announces he’s fled.

There was Rasna Warah and there was Kepta Ombati. There was Esther Passaris and there was Mwaura the activist and Albino. Look, i have an account of several Kenyans students and university lecturers and friends from foreign missions with whom we had discussion but who wish to remain the unsung heroes, the unafraid who joined us to make it happen. Not to mention representatives from Bunge la Mwananchi.

True, the Kenyan people share in resilience. And this is what is going to liberate us from the shackles of decades of bad leadership.

Posting Courtesy of Khainga Okwemba – Thanks

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Showcasing the best in Kenyan Arts;Music,writing,Poetry,fine art and art reviews as well as info on emerging art trends. “Art is not about thinking something up. It is the opposite…getting something down.”