January 21, 2018

Podcast: It’s Our Turn to Read

Poster advertsing book event at Kenya National Theatre

Poster advertsing yesterday's book event at the Kenya National Theatre

I spent yesterday afternoon with an inspiring group of activists, writers, students and artists at the launch of It’s Our Turn to Read, at the Kenya National Theatre here in Nairobi.

The project is a civil society response to the “informal ban” of Michela Wrong’s book It’s Our Turn To Eat: The story of a Kenyan whistleblower. Although not officially banned, the book has been hard to find at booksellers here, as many fear the consequences of selling a book that exposes corruption in the Kenyan government.

More than just a reading of book excerpts, the event was a discussion – not only about corruption, but also about the broader governance challenges facing Kenya: The scourge of “tribalism”, the violence after the 2007 elections, sexual harassment in the workplace, the enduring legacy of colonialism, and the need for citizens to unify for better outcomes, were just some of the issues discussed.

At 32 minutes long, this podcast is just a slice of what was a four-hour long discussion. Hopefully though, it will give those in Kenya who weren’t able to make it to the event a sense of what went on. For Darfur advocates interested in civil society and genocide prevention, it also makes for interesting listening.

One of the promising proposals to come out of the discussion was that the book reading project be taken to town hall meetings around the country. I’ll post updates here if/when this idea develops. The organizers also recommended that anyone interested in the project should visit www.pichamtaani.com

You can put this on an i-pod via i-tunes now, or just listen to it on the web. Below is a rough log of the event so if there are aspects you are particularly interested in, you can just track straight to them.

0.00 – Speaking with one of the people coming to hear the launch – Michael, a university student

2.30 – It’s Our Turn to Read opening / Comedian (and aspiring politician) KJ (John Kiarie) warming up the crowd

5.23 – Recital of the Kenyan national anthem

5.45 – Introduction of International Pen / The importance of free expression / “When we fight the way we did after the vote in 2007, the crops dry up . . .”

7.39 – Book reading (Fear felt by John Githongo)

8.25 – Book reading (Anglo Leasing)

9.12 – “Some people do fear to be seen selling this book . . .” / Question for the audience: Is John Githongo a hero or a betrayer? / Answers from audience members

14.03 – Recital of poem on corruption in Kenya written by someone in the audience (anonymous)

14.32 – Problems with the Kenyan Parliament

19.05Moraa Gitaa: Challenges of getting Kenyan stories published by Kenyan publishers / Sexual harassment in the workplace

21.00 – Book reading (Attempted blackmail of John Githongo)

22.00 – Book reading (Macavity the mystery cat)

23.45Tony (‘smitta’) Mochama: “I just wanted to be a writer . . . It’s sort of hard to be a writer in a country where genocides are about to go on . . .” / Getting involved in politics

25.00 – Proposal to take book readings on the road around Kenya

27.00 – Introduction to photo journalist, Boniface Mwangi

29.00 – “In three years time when the country burns, we will all suffer . . .”

31.30 – “The redeemers are not in the halls of power today . . .” / Call for citizen unity and action / “Discuss this revolution . . . Come along with me . . . let’s try and unite, let’s get there. It’s possible!”

Comments

  1. great stuff to kick start my creative side this AM

  2. I concur!,that was great stuff,its inspiring.i should just point out that we should learn by true historical facts that has resulted to our current situation(mostly political lased with ethnic anomosities)in kenya that unless we(the scribes)start addressing our ethno diversity and how we should regionalise independently,there is still going to that political wedge being used on us(the people of kenya)by current and aspiring politicians(even some of us who are now forfronting for change)(sic)……..think about this.”any form of democratic independence from grass root, in all aspects of pursuits….albeit….tribal,political,economical,social,cultural,interlectual affiliation…..etc,brings out a cohessive and roburst society”(Kitgum john MA Makerere)

  3. good and educative stuff you have.kuddos

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