Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor teased her new book The Dragonfly Sea at the endnote address of an Oeuvre in her honour at the African Leadership Centre on Friday 10th June 2016.
It was a special time for Kenyan writer Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor as she was feted with an Oeuvre on her work in the last decade and some in Nairobi last week. An Oeuvre refers to all the works that a writer, an artist, or a composer has created. The Nairobi based African Leadership Centre hosted academics, writers and others to discuss the work of the writer who many, including this blogger, believe to be most import Kenyan writer of our generation.
The African Leadership Centre hosted panels and presentations from a wide variety of personalities in the two day symposium. Some of the academics presenting papers or participating in panels were Godwin Siundu (University of Nairobi), Amos Burkeywo (University of Nairobi), Larry Ndivo (Kenyatta University), Tom Odhiambo (University of Nairobi), Fred Mbogo (Moi University), Edgar Nabutanyi (Makerere University), Jennifer Muchiri (University of Nairobi), and Doseline Kiguru (University of Cape Town). They made presentations with titles like Narrating Kenyan Silenced Histories through Fiction in Yvonne Owuor’s Dust, Narrating the Genealogy of Kenya’s Historical Injustices in Yvonne Owuor’s Dust and Recalibrating Moral Fabrics: “Ujanja” in Yvonne Owuor’s Dust. Also making an appearance were Garnette Oluoch- Olunya from The GoDown Arts Centre and Kwani Trust’s Billy Kahora; the Kwani Trust has had a long association with Ms Owuor.
Friday 10th June was what one could call the highlight of the occasion as there were two main speakers; University of Johannesburg’s Pinkie Mekgwe whose paper was Love Actually, Reading Shadows in Yvonne Owuor’s Dust in the morning.
In the late afternoon Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor made a presentation in titled The DragonFly Sea: A Preview. The African Leadership Centre was filled to the brim as everyone who loved Owuor came to attend the later event. The Dragonfly Sea which will be her second novel after Dust which she has been talking about for a while, at least since 2014, will be unleashed upon us very soon. The novel has something to do with the Indian Ocean as we know it. Owuor went through the different background of the upcoming book with water bodies like the ocean being at the centre.
With Yvonne’s presentation done, there were dramatisations of some of the work of her work like from Dust and from stories like Dressing The Dirge (my personal favourite). They were done by Aghan Odero Agan, George (Babu) Achieng Odero, Maimouna Jallow, Mathew Ondege, Mshai Mwangola and Mueni Lundi. You can watch an enactment of Odidi Runs below as well when Akai Ma first learnt of her son’s demise which is a Facebook photo album here.
With the presentations done, there was a cocktail party where folks got to meet the writer and signed books.