Litfest Testimonials

Written by Kwani · September 8, 2008

“I learnt about the Kwani? Litfest through a friend who is at the University of Nairobi.I registered for the creative non fiction writing course.By enrolling I sought to know whether what I write fits non fiction since I felt displaced as a writer. I did enjoy the whole week because I learnt the types of creative non fiction, unknown to many.Perhaps next time the litfest should have a permanent venue to avoid any hitches.Otherwise the whole experience was SUPERB.” -Lorella

(Lorella jowi is a student at kenya polytechnic)

A Humbling Experience
“The litfest was a humbling experience. I used to think myself as very knowledgeable until I met our tutor, Kalundi Serumaga.I was amazed by his depth of knowledge on a very wide range of issues; from politics, music, history, fashion..almost everything. It was really humbling for me. More so I admired the way he was able to think out of the box, and stimulating thinking with such provoking statements as “Genocide is only a problem if not successful”. It raised emotions in class, but we loved it.

Nevertheless this was a creative non fiction course and he taught us different styles to use in writing essays, travel writing, food writing, literary journalism, biographies etc.I especially appreciated what he taught us about the need to justify our statements when writing essays, which is my main area of interest.
It was fun to attend the public discussions, my favourite being the session at the University of Nairobi and Ramoma.
I have been doing some writing, but with what I learnt my product will surely become better, publishable material.”- Andrew Ndungu

(Andrew Ndungu is based in Nairobi)

Awesome but too short…
“I learnt about the Kwani? Litfest through an article in the Sunday Nation. I have been interested in writing, but lacked the necessary skills. I enrolled for the course, Starting To Write, so as to acquire the skills. I achieved my goal. The interaction was excellent, with our tutor,David Kaiza, introducing us to many authors and their styles. I am now working on a story which I hope to submit for the Caine Prize.

The whole experience was awesome but too short. Initially the logistics were poor but when we moved to Breaburn school there was improvement. Kwani? needs to think of a permanent writing college in Kenya.” - Wanjiku Waweru

(Wanjiku Waweru works for an investment promotion company.She has published a poetry book: In The Seasons For My Time, which is available at Prestige Bookshops)

Best Way To Write: Read and Write Alot

“I heard about the Litfest from Kwani? and enrolled for the Advanved Fiction class, though at the time I not very sure whether the course was the best for me. But it turned out to be the most appropriate. Thanks to our tutor, Binyavanga Wainaina, I learnt that the best way to write is to read and write a lot.

It was also great attending the public forums at Ramoma, Kengeles and all other places.I was really happy to meet such characters as Tony Mochama (Smitta) and John Kiarie (KJ).

As students of the Advanced Fiction Class we formed a Yahoo group: Advancedfictionkwani where we write and review each others work. The first manuscripts have already been posted. The litfest was terrific and wonder when the next one will be..” - Betty Gikunda

(Betty Gikunda is a student at Masinde Muliro University, Kakamega)


8 Responses to “Litfest Testimonials”

  1. Kenny on September 9th, 2008 7:28 am

    I reckon the idea of a writing college is an idea that should be furthered by Kwani? A lot of people have not yet been placed in an environment of creative and intensive writing despite holding succesful careers in other fields. So you get a doctor who has ample knowledge of anatomy but cannot write a flawless paragraph due to lack of exposure.

    Someone should lead the way and make writing, reading, poetry etc fun for more and moreKenyans and not just an elitist club.

  2. isabella on September 9th, 2008 8:31 am

    I love writing and currently am publishing a work of fiction with an american company, i would love to come to one of your reading events as i want to meet people who love books,writing and enjoy the world of publishing. i have had good things about Kwani and would love to join you in your reading events

  3. Lawrence Obonyo on September 12th, 2008 12:50 pm

    I really want to thank Kwani? for the good job they are doing and also ask them and any other concerned person( like Wanjiku Waweru) if they can help me publish a collection of poems I’ve been doing for the past two years.
    I am a student at Nairobi University, Parklands campus.
    Thank you.

  4. EIC-Kenya on September 15th, 2008 3:32 pm

    I’m often dismayed by the dismal editing that I come across in Kwani publications and, now, the website.

    Is there an editor here?

    “By enrolling I SORT to know whether…”

    “I enrolled for the Advanved Fiction class, though at the time I not very sure whether…”

    Now these may be examples of the declining standards of our educational system, but at the end of the day, it’s an editor’s responsibility to make sure that a literary publication (!) adheres to the highest standards of the basics: spelling and grammar.

    Kwani, clean up your act.

  5. Kwani on September 15th, 2008 6:37 pm

    Noted.Thanks.However the purpose of this exercise was to reproduce the raw feedback from the participants.

  6. Julian on September 16th, 2008 10:59 am

    Interesting observations both by Kwani and EIC-Kenya.It reminds me of a British paper which for a week ran a number of unedited letters to the editor and then followed up with a story about the “Unenglishness of the english in english” which essentially was making fun of how grammatically poor the British are.

    I am not sure whether the editor here did it intentionally but at times I feel editors do a lot of cleaning creating a very perfect image of everything.Once in a while it does not harm to get stories “uncensored” and especially when its not a sensitive issue.What I found interesting was the status of those with grammatical errors.Blame it on the sms and facebook culture.

    Some of the Kwani publications do have some real errors.I have in mind the After The Vote kwanini which despite having quality content and written by Concerned Kenyan Writers had lots of grammatical errors, I wondered whether any editor had a look at it.

    The tragedy with Kwani is perhaps the focus on content and not the “simple ” matters of grammar.Nothing wrong with that but they should be careful not to acquire an image of being careless.

    All in all I think the Litfest was such a bomb and regret having missed it.I wonder when the next Kwani (Is it Kwani 5?) will be out..Or is there no edition this year..

  7. Catherine on December 12th, 2008 6:31 pm

    Kwani Litfest was an eye opener for me, a lasting experience which imparted a lot of new knowledge.I hope I will never miss out on any Kwani events.I urge other upcoming writers to link with Kwani, there are no regrets but lots of gains.

  8. Fredd on July 30th, 2009 12:21 am

    How do i become a part of the activities at kwani? Heard about the litfest in passing over the radio. Especially interested in classes for aspiring writers. Help!

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