For book lovers that want a taste of Kenyan traditions, experiences and literary aesthetics, here is part 1 of some of the books by Kenyan writers that, in my opinion, will take you through the beautiful journey.
1. Kill Me Quick by Meja Mwangi
It tells of the story of a young Meja who moved from his upcountry home to the cruel city of Nairobi to look for a job but ended up as a street dweller. Since finding a job with a first division school certificate in the city is just an illusion. The very rude ‘Hakuna Kazi’ (There’s No Work) sign in every office he seeks employment frustrates his ego and he has to succumb to the unfairness that is life. This story is as relevant then as it is today. If I go on about this, I’ll kill your curiosity so hurry, get the book!
2. The Cockroach Dance by Meja Mwangi
This book got me laughing quietly to myself in public transport or experiencing hysterical laughter outbursts. The main reason I recommend this book is because of the whimsical dialogue and description that Meja Mwangi employs to tell a story of a man tormented by cockroaches. Also, the character names will get you rolling on the ground. It is a story told in the most amazing satirical tone showing the difference between the high and low social classes in Kenya and the place of the poor in the Kenyan society. I enjoyed reading this book particularly because it relates to the modern day Kenya.
3. Attack of the Shidas AKAs Save Planet Earth by Muthoni Muchemi
This is a Storymoja publication and although it is a children’s book, in my opinion, has a message that every single generation should adhere to. It’s a story of three children whose super powers help unite a divided region. It relates closely to the effects of ethnic battles and conflicts that we experience here in Kenya and through very courageous characters- Tosha, Shana and Pato. In my opinion, this book should be made a must read for all children in every institution. What impressed me the most is how, after every chapter, there are quotes from great philosophers, scientists and also African sayings and proverbs are included. It also has smart questions at the end and they can be used to build a child’s memory. This book preaches peace and unity and parents should get it for their little ones. After reading it themselves of course.
4. Blossoms of the Savanna by H. R Kulet
It’s an intricately written story which is thought provoking as well. It is a story of two sisters who are the victims of conflict between modernity and traditions. It is relevant to almost every Kenyan community.
5. Moran No More by H.R Ole Kulet
I have not yet read this book yet but having read other works of Ole Kulet, I am certain that this is not going to be disappointing.
6. Aminata By Francis Imbuga
Heard of the phrase educate a woman and you’ve educated a generation? This comic play reveals the true meaning of this statement through the character Aminata, a strong willed and benevolent lawyer who defies all stereotypes of the African society that a woman’s space can only be in the kitchen, domestic, and giving birth. It is the strength of the woman that drove me to enjoy this play and also the witty dialogue used.
7. She Ate the Female Cassava by Jimmi Makotsi
This play critically looks at the impact of change in a naïve African setting based on family values, society and the effects of social economic changes on these aspects. The story reveals some elements of change as portrayed by the characters and the interesting dialogue. It is a must read!
8. Walk with me, Angela by Stephen Mugambi
I enjoyed the boldness of the author in describing romance and being a such a shyly viewed topic, got me intrigued. It is probably not the best love story ever told but it is worth a read.
9. The strange Bride by Grace Ogot
This novel is going to capture your attention as you are taken through the beautiful journey to Luo land. There is a mythical affair in this novel and you got to love the rich language employed. It is a narrative and written in a truly African sense with songs and amazing imagery.
10. When the Sun Goes Down and other Stories from Africa and Beyond- By various writer (edited by Emelia Ilieva and Waveney Olembo)
This book contains sixteen beautifully written short stories featuring renowned african writers such as Rydah Jacobs( South Africa), Moses Isegawa( Uganda), Grace Ogot( Kenya), Sefi Atta( Nigeria). The stories here have a modern taste in them, simply executed. ‘Twilight Trek by Sefi Atta was my favorite story. if there is a book everyone should have, it is this one.