About Aamera Jiwaji

Aamera Jiwaji is a journalist. She writes for Nairobi Business Monthly, The Nairobi Law Monthly, Business Daily (NMG) and AwaaZ magazine. She is also a published short story writer, and her writing has appeared in Indian Voices and Africa Fresh! (which was shortlisted for the Lulu Blooker Prize). Read her blog.

The first thing that strikes you about The Dream Chasers is its kaleidoscope of descriptions: commonplace aspects of Kenyan life seen through the eyes of a young Luo girl, and sensuously explored. The second, in stark contrast to the detailed analysis of everyday activities and objects, is the deliberately distanced engagement with characters.

The Dream Chasers is the story of Lulu and it begins 4 months before the 2007 national elections in Kenya. A chronologically structured narrative, which with its opening sentence looks ahead to a tragic future incident, it traces the increasing momentum of the elections parallel to the development of Lulu’s relationships with her mother, her father and her best friend Muchai. Continue reading

There is something magical about reading a book which is set in your own city or country. The sights are familiar; the observations feel intimate; and an analysis of everyday, mundane activities builds an instant camaraderie between the reader and the author.

Line and Sinker by Paul Nderitu set in contemporary Nairobi is such a story. It is a crime story told through the third person narrative of Inspector Mutua, a police inspector, who is dedicated to fighting crime in the city, so much so that his work puts his family life firmly in the back seat. Continue reading

There is a certain stereotype about Indian literature. It is an impression shaped by the brilliant colours of saris, pungent smell and taste of spices, slant eyed Indian beauties and old world elegance of India’s architecture.

If that is why you have picked up Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger, then you will be sorely disappointed.

The White Tiger is not a book that indulges in any soft or tender moments. It is harsh and realistic – and as stark as the binary of Light and Dark that the book develops its narrative. One which examines the culture of servitude in India, which pits the rich against the poor.

And yet told by the protagonist, Balram, a self made man in all senses – from his first job in the city as a driver to a rich family, all the way to his new life as an entrepreneur in the city of Bangalore – it is an open and honest examination of his character’s development vis a vis that of the creation of contemporary Indian society. Continue reading

Lucy in Kongowea defies a greedy developer

Zarina Patel, granddaughter of the activist Alibhai Mullah Jeevanjee, is most well known for how she challenged the take over of Jeevanjee Gardens in 1991 by the Nairobi Municipal Council who wanted to turn it into a multi-storeyed parking lot.

“When the story broke, I was still in Mombasa. I hardly knew what Jeevanjee gardens was,” she remembers. But the story in the Daily Nation made her sit bolt upright, and she thought to herself, “No way. I am not going to allow the garden to be lost.”

She and her mother, the youngest daughter of Alibhai Mulla Jeevanjee, travelled to Nairobi immediately and with the late Professor Wangari Maathai’s assistance, amassed public support to protest the conversion and commercialisation of a green haven within the city centre.

“We fought for Jeevanjee Gardens,” Zarina says matter of factly, “and we won.” Continue reading