I'm back from the Storymoja Hay Festival. It was fabulous! As is usually the case, I mostly forgot to take photos. I'm not a natural photographer, the taking of photos distracts me from my experience. I don't like taking photos or having them taken of me. But I did take a few when I remembered and here they are.
One of the most interesting sessions I attended was an interview of Miguna Miguna the author of Peeling Back the Mask: A Quest for Justice in Kenya (photo above) Miguna was a senior advisor to the prime minister of Kenya, Raila Odinga. Miguna joined Odinga’s team enthusiastically thinking that the Prime Minister was a new leaf for the country, the man to lead them to a more equitable and honest Kenya. But quite quickly he began to see the chinks in Odinga’s surface and though he attempted to advise the Prime Minister, his advice fell on deaf ears. He left his job (first suspended and then asked to come back, an offer he refused). The book is a memoir of his life and his time in this administration. It has met with a strong backlash in the Kenyan community. At at least one event for the book, stones were thrown at the author. In the event I attended, the auditorium was pulsing with emotion. It is indeed a book that has Kenyans polarised. Miguna makes the point that if the country is to go forward, it must do so with knowledge. Though many Kenyans believe that Odinga is the best they have, Miguna feels that Kenyans should not compromise, that they should demand what they deserve and that the book is a way to further transparency and democracy. I’ve yet to read the book but I was very impressed with the robust debate.
I realise I don't have any photos of myself doing anything. But just to prove I actually did go to Nairobi here is a photo of Lola and I speaking to a group of school children.
Nairobi is wonderful. I was so impressed with the vibrancy of their literary community, jealous actually. I wish we had it in Botswana. The event was held at the newly renovated national museum, a beautiful venue. I loved meeting many of the writers I'd only heard about before like Lola and Muthoni Garland (who I stayed with in her beautiful home), and Billy Kahora. I had so many great conversations with all sorts of people. I'm now thinking of new ways of seeing things and doing things. I think that really should be the purpose of such events, for both the people who attend and the people who are part of it, to open our minds and let knew winds blow through. In that way it was a success, my brain is very windy at the moment.