There’s a new book spot in town! Whispers Book Den.
The idea was born by none other than Wahome(Whispers) Mutahi’s daughter, Eva Wanjugu aka ‘Investment’ and my good friend Treza Kinoru. The two came up with the idea earlier this year and decided to enroll in the ‘Chora Bizna’ competition that was being run by the Kenyan Government with the support of various local and international institutions. Their idea of a Fine Art & Performing Arts Business bore what now has become the newest haven for book lovers in Nairobi.
The place which opened its doors just a few weeks ago is on the ground floor apartment of the Chiromo Court building on Waiyaki Way and honestly, it took my breath away!
I had earlier on tried visiting the place when it was still being set up but found myself in the next building(Eden Square) with no one having a clue of what I was looking for (I blame TK for wrong directions). I finally found the place last Friday afternoon(Thanks to a meeting in Westlands that ended just before lunchtime). It is slightly hidden though, as one would have to walk past the main reception and into the inner court(indoor parking) to see the rusty wrought iron round piece of fantastic metalwork that is the signage. It reminded me of a Kenyan fine Artist, Bertiers(might feature him here soon)
Eva was at the outside patio enjoying the bright afternoon radiance and local gossip from one of the dailies looking lovely as ever. I remember the first time I saw her with Treza, I actually thought its the sister,needless to say, I totally embarrassed myself when I said that(I had read about her in the dads column but never saw her in person)
She ushered us into the den(was hoping it would be underground and have the creepiness that the name den evokes- well!) The place has the ambiance alright. From the cosy sofa facing the shelves, the menlike CDs racks made from wrought iron to the bar like setting of High seats (Sina Taabus as they are referred to) the place reeked of sophistication, coolness bordering on eccentricity. A feeling that I would say is synonymous with the current generation of Kenyan writers.
And if the ambiance does not do it for you, then the collection of books certainly will. I saw books that I never imagined existed, Poetry anthologies, all the celebrated African Writers, name it. Upon inquiring on the vast collection, I was informed that all the books were from Whisper’s private collection that he accumulated over the years. You can tell that the man was serious about his literature. The two ladies have also partnered with various publishers to resell their books in the shop section as well as with Sound Africa for a catalogue of some of the best sounds coming from Kenya and Africa.
The Whispers Book Den has 4 different settings for its guests; the main room or library, A room for silent reading that has been partitioned into small cubicles complete with lockers,a kids reading room and the outside garden which is soon to be turned into a platform for book reading, performances and poetry readings(you can trust I am looking forward to the latter).
What I found most creative is the types of membership available. They have the categories based on Whispers fictional characters namely; Appep (4,500 – 5books) Thatcher( Ksh. 3,500 – 4 books), Whispers Junior( 2,500 – 3 books) Pajero(Ksh. 1,500 – 2 books) Whizz Kids(Ksh. 1,000 – 2 Children’s books) and Investment (Ksh. 10,000- 10 Books, Internet Access, 1 child free membership and 15% on books purchased)
The Fine art bit has not been left out as they have portrait drawings by Boyd of famous Kenyan and World faces.
There is alot that the new place hasn’t put in place e.g some piped music, coffee and snacks for sale but as Eva told me, all this is in the works.
I urge you to pay the place a visit one of these days as this is one place that is sure to take reading to a whole new level. I will definitely be signing up soon as there are books there I can’t wait to read.
Photos courtesy of Vic N.- ua phone came in handy