I did not know what to expect when I picked up Kevin Mwachiro’s Invisible: Stories from Kenya’s queer community’, so I went ahead to satisfy my curiosity after the tasteful launch of the book at the Goethe Institute.
The book is a compilation by journalist and activist Kevin Mwachiro of narratives from Kenyan activists on their discontent against discrimination and uphold the respect and dignity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals.
The story in chapter 14 of a Turkana boy is particularly compelling, so pure and honest that I wanted it to become a novel. The author of this piece tells his piece in one of the most refreshingly sincere way. No agenda. No 3-pronged objectives. Just a boy, telling his story, leaving out nothing.
Some of the authors, mostly anonymous , express themselves through poetry. As a lover of poetry and a staunch believer in giving credit where it is due, the poetry in the little collection did nothing for me. Perhaps it needed to stay on the editing stove for longer, that way some of the words would thicken more, beautify themselves, or whatever it is poetry does when it is well-edited.
If there is anything that the collection does well , then it is to compel the reader ( the Kenyan who went to public schools, boarding schools, who played ‘Cha Baba’ and ‘Cha Mama’ or their versions of it)- to look at the roots of our prejudices against queer people in Kenya, and to consider our actions- that one time in boarding school, or while playing a dad and mum game, that kid who everyone said was a tomboy, or too much of a girl- because that is when, for most of the authors, that who they were started dawning on them.