Makena Onjerika’s “Digital Bedbugs” reboots Mbogi Ya Mawriters.

Makena Onjerika’s edited anthology Digital Bedbugs was featured at the first physical Mbogi Ya Mawriters event since the onset of Coronavirus at Alliance Francaise Nairobi on October 29, 2020.

Mbogi Ya Mawriters is a series featuring Kenyan writers hosted at the Alliance Française Nairobi that kicked off in 2019. Mbogi is a Kiswahili word meaning railway carts adopted in current times to mean a crew or group of people. Mawriters is a word for many writers therefore, Mbogi Ya Mawriters is a crew of writers. There were several events until the Coronavirus pandemic stopped cultural activity in Nairobi.

The first physical event in the series in a city that is slowly returning to “normalcy” was the discussion of the Makena Onjerika edited anthology Digital Bedbugs. The event was moderated by actor, teacher journalist, and recently writer John Sibi-Okumu popularly known in Kenya as JSO.

Makena Onjerika came to continental fame when she won the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2018. The writer set up the Nairobi Fiction Workshop with classes that are craft-focused and cover the many elements of fiction. From these workshops, the Nairobi-based writer asked the writers to submit work for a new anthology she was editing and which eventually became Digital Bedbugs.

The event at the Alliance Francaise was a small event with organisers ensuring that Covid-19 Social Distancing measures were being met. For the one hour of the event, audience members saw first the editor Makena Onjerika and then seven of the contributors Dennis Mugaa, Awuor Mugeni, Gladwell Pamba, Sheeba Jacob, Sophie Gitonga, and Shiru Waweru speak about their stories and how they came to be.

You can watch an edited version of the event at the Alliance Francaise in the below video.

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