About Kwani Trust

Who we are

Kwani Trust was established in 2003. It is dedicated to nurturing and developing Kenya’s and Africa’s intellectual, creative and imagination resources through strategic literary interventions. Kwani Trust houses and distributes literary products and services globally. Kwani Trust, under the guidance of trustees, is overseen by its founding editor, Binyavanga Wainaina, with the support of key staff, a corps of literary associates, and friends from Kenya, the African continent and the rest of the creative world.

What we do

  • Edit and publish the foremost literary journal in the region representing new literary voices
  • Locate, nurture and develop literary talents from as wide a segment of East African society as possible
  • Work towards expanding the reading and contemporary story creation culture in Kenya
  • Actively build links into the different spheres of writing from Africa and beyond, and stimulate shared creative initiatives
  • Represent and promote the works of new authors associated with the Kwani experience both in Kenya and abroad
  • Forge collaborations with institutions and individuals to present, develop and support literary and other creative ventures
  • Seek, establish and forge regional and global literary linkages with writers, publishers, editors, agents and policy makers
  • Stimulate imaginative and creative exchanges that contribute proactively to global dialogue in a variety of issues
  • Proactively move literature into other creative spaces and expand literary audience sand clients of literature

Our Projects

  • Kwani? An annual journal featuring new writing from Kenya
  • Kwani? Novel Series
  • Kwanini? Short Story Series
  • Kwani? Poetry Open Mic: a monthly poetry performance event
  • Sunday Salon Nairobi: a prose reading series held every month
  • Kwani? writers’ forums
  • Open debate forums in collaboration with writers, publishers and other related practitioners
  • The annual Kwani? Literary Festival held in December, and now to be staged every August beginning 2008, in partnership with the Summer Literary Seminars

Over thirty new writers have been published in the four 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 was awarded a fellowship at the prestigious Royal Court Theatre in London; Uwem Akpan a Nigerian writer, and Billy Kahora, the assistant editor of Kwani? secured places in a post-graduate creative writing programme in the United States and UK respectively, based on the work they published in Kwani? In addition, Billy Kahora’s “Treadmill Love” from “The Obituary Tango” Jacana/New Internationalist 2006 was highly commended by the judges of the Caine Prize 2007.

Untutored writers - like Richard Onyango, the world renowned painter - have been published by Kwani? In Kwani? 02 and 03, we introduced an extended section in Sheng, narrated orally, transcribed and edited by Mashifta, a leading Kenyan hip hop group.

In December 2006, we published Kizuizini (In Detention), a Swahili memoir of a Kenyan freedom fighter and former Mau Mau detainee, Joseph Muthee. This is part of the Kwani? Series.

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 to embrace Kwani?

Kwani? hosts the monthly Sunday Salon Nairobi and Kwani? Poetry Open Mic. These act as places where we can talk shop, share ideas, and encourage budding writers. These sessions are very popular with promising writers and audiences who are interested in literature.

The annual Kwani? Literary Festival held in partnership with the Summer Literary Seminars has brought together renowned literary names, writers, editors and publishers from the US, Britain, India, Nigeria, South Africa, Gambia, Uganda, DR Congo and Kenya and this has resulted in various collaborative projects between writers and publishers from different parts of the world. The Literary festival also provides an opportunity for new writers to train and learn from leading writers.