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:: Kenyan nominated for Caine prize


Muthoni Garland

Kenyan writer, Muthoni Garland, has been nominated for the Caine Prize for African Writing 2006 for her story, ‘ Tracking the Scent of My Mother .'

Muthoni says that her story was inspired “by the climate of private fear in which many children and women in our part of the world exist.”

She adds: ‘And this is not because of disease or war or famine, but because of men who abuse them. In Kenya, where it is widely accepted that these crimes are grossly under-reported, it is said that a rape occurs every 30 minutes, and that one in every two women has experienced some form of violence. But numbers alone are not enough to reflect the pain and suffering caused to affected individuals, nor do they serve to increase understanding about why it happens. Fiction helps us explore this territory.

Born and bred in Kenya, Muthoni is married to a handsome Englishman, and between them they have four children. She writes stories to engage and entertain children and adults. Her work has been published in kwani?, Chimurenga (SA), Absinthe Review (USA), Memories of Sun (anthology for children published by HarperCollins - USA) and is forthcoming in The Reading Room (USA), and Sex and Death - an anthology edited by Mitzi Szereto (UK). A short-short was highly commended in the 2002 BBC Commonwealth radio competition. Muthoni is working on her first novel.

Muthoni has been published in two issues of Kwani?

‘Tracking The Scent Of My Mother's is especially relevant in Kenya at the moment. The Kenyan parliament is debating a Sexual Crimes Bill. Muthoni has pointed out that the debate, unfortunately, seems to pitch men against women, and the diplomatic and NGO community against locals.

“I pray our leaders rise above this and soberly reflect on the personal, social and economic ramifications of sexual violence. It diminishes and debilitates all of us. I pray that they go beyond issues of punishment to issues of education and socialisation. I pray the day will come when women in our world will be free.”

Excerpt:

“ My mother is tall. Her skin is the tender yellow of mashed cooking bananas, and her lips are tinged with pink. She has big breasts and hips and buttocks, but when she tightens her belt, her waist is narrow. Muscles bunch up in her calves like isolated potatoes, but her legs are slender. Unlike Cousin Wangui, my mother's voice trips over certain letters, but it is rare. Her hair is in the latest curly kit fashion. She likes beads and bangles, and the itchy music of Congo. Western music makes her cry. ” 

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