2018 Reads

If I told you to start your year with a book in hand, which one would it be? Better yet, have you just made a resolution to read 52 books in 2018? Good on you! I have every intention of keeping up my own reading. If you have not yet started reading, or dropped reading a while ago, welcome back.

As an adult reader, I started looking at writers who put black and African diaspora protagonists at the forefront of their stories.When I was at school, my primary and secondary schools each had a well stocked library and the curriculum had us in the library for the national radio weekly lesson. Even now, I marvel at how a public school in Kenya in the 1990s had such foresight. One of the most popular collections was the African Writers’ Series. At that time, I knew little about writers from other parts of Africa, and I was especially taken by the stories of adventures in West Africa and South Africa through writers like Achebe, and Gordimer. These short books, often 100-200 pages long planted a connection with the rest of Africa, and the idea that the lives we lived were ordinary and yet extraordinary enough for someone to write about.  I am still looking for stories like these.

 

Never having been much of a sci-fi reader, I have now finished Octavia Butler”s Parable of the Sower, and I have just started Parable of the Talents. Last year, I had the pleasure of picking up a couple of her books at a terrific price, on Kindle Day. Butler, a MacArthur Genius Fellowship awardee (1995) was until her passing on in 2006 a brilliant writer of science fiction.  She used to affirm herself, writing famously : ” I am a bestselling writer, I write bestselling books”, noted by NPR in 2017 as one way that she writes herself into her story. I am enjoying reading her rendering of life in 2026, which startlingly captures a few too-close-to-real events we have already seen in 2018, yet she wrote this in 1993. She writes a future much like the world we live in, where there is racial and gender diversity and everyone has to do their part to make each dystopian future liveable. If I find myself in Southern California, I will surely visit the Huntington, where her papers have resided since 2008

Free books! What? A book at no cost to you – especially after you compile a book list at least 100 titles long? (Looking at myself as I write this to you!) While in Kenya this past Christmas, I captured my very own free e-reader. Well, actually, I learned about World Reader, which boasts a library of over 40,000 books in 43 Languages at no cost, and in partnership with authors, publishers and other friends. How cool. I cannot wait to put some titles on a smart device and hit the year reading everywhere.

I hope you can start on your own list of books to read this year, whether you start with just a few pages, a favourite poem, or even just finishing the local newspaper cover to cover,

Please let me know in the comments section what you suggest I read this year. And your go-to books.

Happy new year,

Josephine

PS: If this is your first time here, get to know me a little better by checking out some of my earlier posts on Getting Hired,and Getting Scholarships for Further Studies

Speaking Kenyan Politics: Language

One language that we have not yet learned is that of speaking to one another across political barriers. My dear Kenya has spent the week in the first set of party primaries for the upcoming general elections. With over 40,000 candidates vying for the complex tiered county governments (47 of them) senate, and parliament, the primaries are much like the athletic heats which determine which Kenyan athletes make it to the international stage. The difference being that winning any of the seats is a guarantee of a hefty salary with perks that may extend beyond one’s term. As you can imagine, the polls are filled with colorful language that does not seem to have limitations. The winners list seems to be filled with new, younger, and untested faces. The first big bit was: Fagia Wote (Sweep Them All Out!) where voters decided they were done with several big names.

And now the major primary contests are all but over. The tribunals featuring primary election complainants are sitting day and night resolving one dispute after another. What started off as a full field of the same faces from the last election has been given a makeover with less of the old, and more new, fresh faces. Some of the mighty have fallen, the unlikely underdogs replacing them. A few of the previously heartbroken losers from previous contests can scarcely believe they are back. We are still mostly armchair political pundits roasting those we managed to catch on camera in the heat of the contests. We still have not learned to speak to one another. We still think it is virtually an anomaly to have someone win a contest in a region that does not match his name. We are still eating the mashed foods of young learners in modern day Kenyan politics.

Also, we are learning the meaning of the phrase: Independent Candidate. This is the place those unsuccessful in the primaries, and unwilling to concede will find their way to the electoral box. Kariuki has a meme you need to take a sec and chuckle at, that describes what this means to the man on the street.

And me, what language am I searching for now? I am a registered voter in Kenya – so I can afford to talk. Thinking deeply about how to write about my choices for MP, as of today being between Boniface Mwangi, Jaguar and Steve Mbogo for Area MP. On that I need new language too.

So who else am I watching talking about Kenyan politics on the internets?

Who are you watching and listening to regarding the elections in Kenya? Drop me a comment or write your own post in response

Josephine