Editorial
Kwani Trust Editorial
Thursday, 15 July 2010 07:43

CIRCA 1969: THE DEATH OF THE ‘ENGLISH DEPARTMENT’

Written by sam
Part 2: An Open Letter To Philip Ochieng from Taban lo Liyong


I was in Nairobi a few months ago and presented a paper on “Major Indigenous Gods and Religions of Africa and their Areas of Worship”, using evidences gleaned from Professor Dr. Rev. John Samuel Mbiti on African religions and Harry Johnston on Bantu and Sub-Bantu languages of Africa. Though the evidences were mainly from those two, I discovered a trove of useful information hidden in them to establish my thesis. And that is that there are distinct African Gods and their related Religions. Because Africans have migrated far they have also taken these Gods and their observances along with them. But the names have slightly changed as African languages became dialects of the original languages. 

By identifying the dialectal relationship, one can trace the migratory relationship between African ideas, beliefs and peoples as well as draw a map of the relationship. After making this original discovery I thought other scholars would now go ahead and study each God/Religion autonomously. As well as find out what their individual characteristics of Gods and Religions are, as well as their dialectal changes or transmutations.
Thursday, 15 July 2010 07:12

Mis-appreciation Of African Literature (101)

Written by sam

Students are advised that this course carries no credits. This course is designed only for the Appreciation of African Literature.
By David Kaiza


“The force of the poetry that was beginning to come out of those young people became one huge challenge to many of us. It wasn’t because we hated other people’s poetry but because we were frightened of our emotions.” -David Rubadiri, Malawian Poet. Makerere University , May 2009.

David Rubadiri was speaking to an audience at Makerere University in May 2009 at a memorial lecture to editor David Cook when he said this, in front of an audience of students whose parents would have been children when in 1962, African writers descended on the university:

Octogenarian and walking with a noticeable shuffle, Rubadiri still had in him, the ability to whip up the aura of the 1960s when African literature was still received with extremes of emotion; 47 years ago, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Okot P’Bitek, Ngugi wa Thiong’o and others who attended that conference were well-known already or would soon be.

Friday, 09 July 2010 14:06

Are They Too Strong and Wise To Put Away?

Written by sam
By Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye

The other day I came upon an English poem that seemed to summarise the feelings of many people under the coalition government in Kenya. The form and vocabulary are dated, but this reminds us that similar situations and responses occur throughout history: literature is not the work of the super-sensitive bestowing enlightenment upon the masses. It is the words and images that those gifted in expression make available to those who share the same griefs, passions and bewilderment but may not have found a way to ventilate and come to terms with them.

Vikram Seth reminded us at the Storymoja Hay Festival in August 2009 that the political responsibility of writers is precisely the same as that of other citizens. Putting pen to paper does not make us wiser than anyone else. Concerned writers, concerned plumbers and concerned farmers all have a role to play. We would all wish from time to time that we had learnt to apply a tourniquet, to defuse a bomb or to detect a forgery. This is the poem which I don’t remember seeing until it was included in Michael Schmidt’s The Great Modern Poets (Quercus UK n/d):
Friday, 09 July 2010 13:52

Theme As King - The Misreading of African Literature

Written by sam
By David Kaiza

In The Interpreters, Wole Soyinka’s hard drinking journalist character, Sagoe, summons the office messenger, Mathias, and begins to read to him his essay on the “philosophy of voidance”, a knotted thesis that we encounter more than once in the novel.

Mathias, whose English (pidgin) is no where as grasping as Sagoe’s, let alone Soyinka’s, sits through a reading in which “voidance” morphs from void to voidate, voidante, voidancy, voidatory and climbs up to variations such as “arborial voidatory” and “Voidante pseudo-negritudinists”.

Doubtless Mathias sat through the lecture for the wicked bottle of beer Sagoe bribed him with for his attention (drinking at work), lost, as it were, in this linguistic void, managing a down-to-earth “Na so life be oga” in reply.