Author: Akoyo Beverly Ochieng

When theMagunga Bookstore – Kenya’s online shop for African reads- first came up online, Of Goats and Poisoned Oranges author, Ciku Kimeria, termed it as the “African version of Amazon.” Budding writer, Troy Onyango, noted excitedly that it would no longer be “so difficult finding African literature” and a good number of us, literary enthusiasts, shared links to the store on our Facebook timelines. Bookstores have been facing something like an existentialist crisis as spaces that have to justify and meet the commercial value of their existence. Locally, they have to compete with the more affordable bendover bookstores. The trouble with…

Localising Texts and Preferences via @theMagunga
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Consider this; “despite our wheel, our plasma tablet and our tweets about the wrongs of those who rule, well, what of concrete-crumb Nairobi when these craters fire, the ground’s hot guts eviscerate, the next erratic earthquake comes?” – Elementeita and the End of Kenyan Time, Stephen Derwent Partington Perhaps the most anticipated literary event in January was the launch of Jalada Africa’s third anthology around the theme Afrofuture(s). When talking about Afrofuture, the element of interest is time: all the changes that take place within time, or just what it’s like to live in that time itself. The future is…

Review: Jalada’s Afrofuture(s) Anthology via @theMagunga
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When the announcement was made for last year’s Caine Prize nominations, it was explicit about ‘looking for the next NoViolet Bulawayo.’  Bulawayo won the prize in 2011 for her short story Hitting Budapest, which is the opening chapter for her Man Booker-shortlisted debut novel We Need New Names. In the announcement, her achievement was termed as a show ‘once more [of] the power African Literature can have on a world stage.’ The Caine Prize has constantly come under a lot criticism for its place within and authority over literature on the continent. Nevertheless, the prize has offered various writers a…

Do We Need New Themes? via @theMagunga
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‘Blood speaks,’ the matriarch Bweeza tells her brother Kanani Kintu, reflecting on his futile attempts to break away from family bonds and the past. As each of the characters in Makumbi’s novel seek out or run away from their past, they become fortified in their (hi)stories. In doing so, Kintu examines the importance of story telling; its relevance to community and on the whole, in society.  Kintu is a colourful portrait of the lineage of Kintu Kidda, a Ppookino or governor of Buddu Province in 16th Century Buganda. When he sets out for the capital to pledge allegiance to the…

Kintu: Telling the Story Properly via @theMagunga
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In the acknowledgements for her debut novel, Dust, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, concludes by saying: “Finally, thank you Kenya – my canvas, haunting, rage, passion, song, impulse, yearning love, frustration and inspiration, and your fierce, fun and fascinating peoples, who laugh at themselves, and muddle hard towards a goal they ache for. To “disappeared” Kenyans, the ones we forgot about…and denizens of vast  northern lands…I beg your indulgence. I have reshaped trails, places, narratives, people, creatures, landscape and names in order to carve out this story.” In the blurb, Dust is described as “a work of art” whose canvas is Kenya,…

Book Review: Dust  by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor via @theMagunga
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