The first edition of the Kakamega Book Festival, brought to you by the Kakamega Book Club, ran on Saturday, May 21, 2022. The theme was “to celebrate books and their impact on our lives.”
The Kakamega Book Club was founded in the western Kenyan town by writer, academic, and broadcaster Egara Kabaji in 2018. Since then, it has become the centre of a lot of literary discussions in Kakamega county with enthusiasts coming from within the town and even further afield from different towns and counties.
The team at the Kakamega Book Club decided to run the first book festival in that part of the country on May 21. The event, hosted at the Wanda Gardens, had a series of activities celebrating the written word starting with the meeting of the book club as they chatted about the book of the month All my friends have Issues by Amanda Anderson.
Other activities were poetry performances from several readers mainly from the book club as they read either their own personal work or from others. There was also a storytelling session where those who had gathered were asked to share interesting stories, from their lives or that they could come up with, that was one of the best sessions of the day.
One of the most moving events of the day was a session dedicated to Brendah Kabindio who had been working for Masinde Muliro University for many years and now has a new role at the Karatina University. The members of the Kakamega Book Club all celebrated her in speech and wished her all the best in her new assignment and then cut a cake in her honour.
The early evening had a keynote referred to as a “Pep Talk” on “A Reflection on Love and Happiness” delivered by the host Egara Kabaji. It continued with fireside storytelling where people had a drink by the fireside and shared stories late into the evening.
As you would expect at a book festival, there were opportunities for those who wish to buy books with a stand manned by staff at Intercen Books as well as Kenyan writing’s biggest literary supporter Lexa Lubanga who was representing Wazalendo Books.