PEN Kenya President  Khainga O'Okwemba

Books Cafe Presenter Khainga O’Okwemba

In recent times Kenyan media has come to the plate where literature and its reporting are concerned. The biggest selling publication on Saturday the Saturday Nation last year started literary pages where you could find dedicated news and reviews from books from the continent with up to ten pages on the topic. With contributions from the likes of Dr Evan Mwangi, Dr Joyce Nyairo , Julius Sigei and Kingwa Kamencu you could at a glance get an idea of what is happening. The pages also allowed people to write in with their opinions on happening topics while authors would send in their own experience in their chosen profession.

The folks from The Standard were not far behind afterwards with their own pages which weren’t as elaborate as they were only two in their Saturday Standard. Also in the mix was the Star which has been doing reviews of books for a while with an emphasis on African writers on Thursday. There is also a new section that interviews authors from around the continent. The most literary thing on Thursday in the Star is the “Literary Postcard” a literary column that has been running for a few years now run by Khainga O’Okwemba who at the moment is the chairman of PEN Kenya.

Khainga O’Okwemba is a man of many hats. Apart from being PEN Kenya president and having a column in The Star he is also the host of the only radio show in Kenya dedicated to literature. The show which is produced by Jared Ombui is called The Books Café and runs on KBC English Service which is as you are aware situated in town just behind the National theatre. The show has hosted some of the more well known people, seeing as it’s the only one, so if there has been anyone in town from Etisalat shortlistees and Granta listed partiers to many local guy this is the only place dedicated to them. For a fuller list of these folks you want to visit this page with some of the interviews and the Facebook page of the show.

I recently was a guest of the show with a college of my who when she is not writing features for the Star is a poet with her blog Bee illustrated where she shows her prowess on the keyboard which she knows something about. She has other interests but ours was on the Kenyan media and how it covers literature and I have to say I had a blast.

If you are in Nairobi the only show dedicated to books exclusively is The Books Café. Tune in every Saturday at 2pm