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Kwani? is a journal founded by some of Kenya 's most exciting new writers, and published by Kwani Trust. The Kwani? web journal has been in existence for close to three years now. Kwani? has published 3 editions of the book to date.

Before Kwani? Kenyans had stopped buying and reading literary material outside of school texts. In three years, we have sold over 5000 copies of the journal, and have gotten a new generation of Kenyans reading. All together 30, 000 Kenyans have read Kwani? and we continue to grow. Kwani? is a serious publication – over 300 pages of new journalism and fiction of experimental writing, poetry, cartoons photographs, literary travel writing, creative non-fiction, yet we sell more copies than all Kenyan popular magazines, except Parents and Eve magazine. Much is said about a lack of a reading culture in Kenya; what we have found is that the literary intelligentsia, together with African publishers and founders of literary projects have lost touch with a new generation of Africans who are sick of being talked down to; who are seeking to understand the bewildering world around them – to be validated in print.

This year Kwani Trust will publish a quarterly magazine and several books including the memoirs of Joseph Muthee, who spent five years in Kenya 's British concentration camps the 1950s. This memoir, a valuable historical document of a little-known period of our history is bound to cause waves. We will publish it in its original Kiswahili and in and English translation. An oral version, filmed and distributed by cassette in Gikuyu, will also be produced.

Kwani Trust has received institutional funding from The Ford Foundation for these projects since 2003.

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Objectives And Achievements

•  Objective: Harness the writers who are writing good work, but who are not being published and are not well-known;

•  Achieved so far : Over twenty new writers have been published in the two issues of Kwani? out so far. Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, who was published by Kwani? won the Caine Prize for African Writing 2003. Parselelo Kantai was short listed for the Caine Prize for African Writing 2004; Andia Kisia has been awarded a fellowship at the prestigious Royal Court Theatre in London; Uwem Akpan, a Nigerian writer using his Kwani? published story, has secured a place in a post-graduate creative writing programme in the United States ; his reworked Kwani? story was recently accepted by The New Yorker for publication.

•  Objective: Plant seeds amongst natural storytellers and young writers who may be raw, but who have something important to say, or a powerful voice, or even a knack for oral storytelling—a skill there is no shortage of in Kenya .

•  Achieved so far: Untutored writers—like Richard Onyango, the world renowned painter—have been published by Kwani? . In Kwani? 02, we have introduced an extended section in Sheng, narrated orally, transcribed and edited by MaShifta, and some members of the Mau Mau camp: all activists and oral storytellers. We have published stories in Engsh and work picked out of internet blogs.

•  Objective: Provide a quality reading experience for the Kenyan reading public in Kenya and abroad. Many say Kenyans do not read, that there is little of substance that is Kenyan, interesting and intelligent. We aim to change this with Kwani?.

•  Achieved so far: Kwani? has been positively reviewed in all major newspapers and other media in East Africa and internationally. We have been featured in the Washington Post , the Miami Herald and The Independent in the UK . Kwani? stories have been read on BBC, and we have been featured on international television many times. Kenyans have grown the embrace Kwani?.

•  Language . We recognise that English and Kiswahili are the languages that Kenyans are literate in at this level; we aim to encourage work from other languages that we shall translate and present to a Kenyan audience.

•  Achieved so far: Kwani? issue 02 has thirty pages dedicated to oral stories and rap and poetry in Sheng.

•  We are, and shall continue to be open to all potential writers. We spend much of our time meeting new writers, or potential writers. We feel that the industry cannot grow unless there are as many of us as possible working to promote a revival of our industry.

•  Achieved so far: Kwani? holds monthly readings at Club Soundd, as well as regular readings in a variety of other venues. These act as places where we can talk shop, share ideas, and encourage budding writers. We have open-mic sessions which are very popular with promising writers


Malla Mumo

Muthoni Wanyeki
(Activist, Writer and Executive Director of FEMNET)

Njeri Karago (Film Producer, Chairperson of the Kenya Film and Television Professional Association)

Ann Mcreath
(Fashion Designer, Manager and Co-owner of Kiko Romeo)

Tom Maliti

Editor Binyavanga Wainaina
General Manager Kairo Kiarie
Assistant Editor Billy Kahora
Marketing & Advertising June Wainaina
Accountant Erick Orende
Sales Co-ordinator Mike Mburu
Administrative Assistant Annette Majanja
Intern IT and Support Amunga Eshuchi
Intern Driver and Sales Assistant Henry Mwangi

Editorial Panel Dayo Forster, Laila Macharia, Simiyu Barasa, Parsalelo Kantai, Steve Partington, Muthoni Garland, Martin Kimani Mbugua, Duncan Kisia, Annabelle Oyando, Bwaya, Annette Majanja, Ali Zaidi, Kitu Sewer, G.Wiji, Mwas, Muthony wa Gatumo, Kamaa

Kwani Team Chris Odongo, Jean Wangeci, Wambura Kairo, Jinna Wa mutune