Sunday was the last day of the Storymoja Festival. This day was special as there would be a memorial in the evening to remember Prof Kofi Awoonor who died when bad folks attacked the Westgate Mall last year. It was a whole year already since that horrible day was upon us. Wow.
I started the day with a session at 11am dubbed Shall we privatise the anti-corruption drive? Moderated by Nigerian advocate and author Chuma Nwokolo (The Ghost of Sani Abacha, Diaries of a Dead African, The Final Testament of a Minor God, How to Spell Naija) the panel included Michela Wrong famous in these parts for her book Its Our Time To Eat: The Story of a Kenyan Whistle-Blower but who has also written In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz and I Didn’t Do It for You: How the World Betrayed a Small African Nation. Also on the panel was Eric Kimani a business leader, entrepreneur, philanthropist, published author, motivational and inspirational speaker (can you tell that I copy and pasted this from his official website?)
Their session concerned itself with corruption and how to deal with it. Their solution was simple; if a company or rather its representatives are proven to have been corrupt then the company would be wound down and 1% of its proceeds would be given to the whistle-blower. Not bad eh? The arguments for and against the measures were varied with many conjecturing that it was too extreme. The panel held their own in that argument.
With that session over we went to the Louis Leakey Hall for what I considered the standout panel for the festival as far as I was concerned; Africa Literature Rising. With the continent on the “rise” it was good to know what people thought about the place of literature in all this “Africa Rising” narrative currently in vogue. The panel included Ivor Agyeman-Duah a Ghanaian essayist and a literary historian and South African Duduzile Mabaso who has done many in several creative spaces online and in media. She is also the founder of poetrypotion.com a brilliant space for poets find and submit work. Also on the panel were Kenyans Garnett Oluoch Olunya academic turned Godown Arts Centre consultant and Wandia Njoya an academic who works for Daystar Uni. The panel was rounded of by one of my favourite people in the writing business Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor famous for her Caine Prize winning Weight of Whispers and her book Dust which is reviewed here.
The panel discussed literature and development moderated by Chuma and it was brilliant. Is the work we all do important for our nations? The answer was discussed in depth with each panelist giving the book which they think Africans should all read to change their world view. They included
Ivor Agyeman-Duah recommended Weep Not Child by Ngugi wa Thiong’o
Wandia Njoya recommended The Beggars Strike by Aminata Sow Fall
Garnett Oluoch Olunya recommended The Wretched of the Earth by Franz Fanon
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor recommended by The Lord of The Rings by JRR Tolkein and rock art
Duduzile Mabaso recommended The Palm Wine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola
The only thing that pleased me no end is that none of those guys told every African to read the Holy Bible.
At the end of the panel it was a time to bond with those I have not seen for many moons.
Another very cool panel on the day was the Writivism one where the Writivism 2015 workshop call out was made.
So the festival was coming to an end. Sob. After days of bonding with some of the most brilliant folks in the game I would have to return to my normal life behind a desk. Folks like Teju Cole, Prajwal Parajuly, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, Kinyanjui Kombani, Sitawa Namwalie, Ciku Kimeria, Bwesigye Bwa Mwesigire, Vaishnavi Ram Mohan, Ndiritu Wahome, Linda Musita, Dilman Dila, Okwiri Oduor, Jackee Budesta Batanda, Ken Walibora, Oduor Jagero, Doreen Baingana, Oyunga Pala, and a host of others.
Thank you guys. I had a ball.