A writer friend of mine excitedly called me during the first week of 2008 and declared: ‘this is the time of the Kenyan writer. We can now move beyond ‘pretty’ stories about our relationships with our mothers, and write about “real” things.’ When I asked what he meant by the ‘real’, a silence came over the line. ‘War and conflict,’ he replied.
Thrust into the conflict-writer’s game, we are now, as Kenyan writers, learning not only to describe, but also to explain our recent past; to craft stories that help us understand what just happened.
Unfortunately, reference points to help us get our bearings are few and far between. When we look at Kenya’s literary canon, it seems to only offer at best a genesis, at worst a cracked mirror. When we ask where are the texts to explain why, what, where and how - the conversations become ethereal, a fog of glimpses and hints.
The Concerned Kenyan Writer’s group was formed with the question, what texts we are to turn to, in mind. What follows is a sample of that group’s first steps in a new land: our Kenya of 2008.