Festivals Kenya

Storymoja Festival 2014 Daily Blog – Saturday 20th September

Wole Soyinka and the full house
Wole Soyinka and the full house

Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka never showed up for the gala event on Friday night and I was starting to feel like these guys were avoiding me. The other day I was at the Blankets & Wine and DJ Cleo the headline act allegedly refused to get on the plane to come even though he had been paid. Then Wole Soyinka is set to give the Wangari Maathai Memorial Lecture to flip the bird at the Al Shabaab guys who had attacked us and killed his pal Prof Kofi Awoonor. Then he fails to come for the gala which he publicly promised to attend.

I had wanted to meet the good Prof Soyinka. No. I didn’t want to take a selfie with him. I had tried to take a photo of his at the Carnivore three years ago when he was in Nairobi for the Kenya International Film Festival. When I had trained my Canon 20D at him he had raised his hand to protect his face which I found to be very weird. When I put down my camera he signaled to me to come to him and he said to me when I came close, “We are already done with that part.” Huh? What was he talking about? I had come late for the event and would be forced to wait until the end of the dinner when speeches were being made before I could take my photo. I have always wondered what he had against my quiet camera on that day.

Then he fails to come for the gala dinner with organizers claiming he had a flight mishap. I made it to the museum on Saturday a bit after 11am and I hear that the good Prof Wole’s flight had flown in at 6am in the morning and he was doing the memorial address. And just like three years ago, there I was arriving late for a Wole Soyinka event. I made my way to the back of the dome and the man who is 80 this year looked quite lively as he read the speech that he had prepared for the audience.

Unfortunately, having come late I couldn’t asking him any questions after he ended as I hadn’t heard the speech so I shut my trap unlike that sad journo who asked, “do you support the ICC seeing as we are there as Kenyans.” I wanted to hide under the chair but what could I do?

Then there were a few other events that I attended like the session that was run by Jeff Koinange whose book I reviewed here recently. The man is brilliant. It was a full house at the dome with folks hanging onto his every word. My man! And we’re gonna do it! Sell one million copies! He even remembers my name and I try not to blush… wait I’m a miro… we don’t do that kind of stuff…

The kissing panel
The kissing panel

Then there was the session that I was moderating: How do Africans Kiss? Storymoja have come up with their own romance series, think Mills & Boon or Sweet Valley High or Harlequin Series (wait is that how those Quins rugby boys go their name?). The series is called the Drumbeat series and my session included those who had something to do with East Africa’s Mills and Boon series. They were the editor of the series Faith Karimi has a column with the Daily Nation (Wednesday) who was accompanied by the assistant editor Vaishnaavi Rammohan. Vaishnaavi has two books in the series Stuck together and Best laid Plans. The young lady is brilliant. She just come came back from London School of Economics where she had finished her masters degree – before she was 21. Also in there was Dilman Dila the Ugandan gentleman with the Nepalese sounding name with his book Cranes Crests and Sunsets. He is one of the most well rounded people in the venue with films and books galore.

Then there was Shevajee Kashavjee whose book was Imani’s Dilemma. The lady who is a property developer was also recently long listed for the Golden Baobab award so you know that my panel was off the hook. We had a ball there at the coconut venue. I wish you were there.

As I waited for the evening events I hang out with several folks including a very inebriated Tony Mochama who was at that time complaining at his bag had been nicked off him by some people who were not bad people. He looked a little the worse for wear and I moved along.

We love you Botswana!
We love you Botswana!

The evening was really happening. It was an evening where we saw some more of the Disraeli performer from the UK who finally convinced me that he was that good as people danced to his music. Also performing was the Botswana guys and finally the headliners; Sauti Sol. It was a great performance with people dancing their hearts out.

Another brilliant day ending at the festival and I’m getting full value for my money.

By James Murua

This blog is run by James Murua a Nairobi, Kenya based lover of books.

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