I vote for the first time in my life on August 8th, 2017. I am the only person in the polling room in the polling station somewhere in Embakasi West. The whole thing takes about five minutes, and when I’m done, I walk back home. Outside, all is quiet; the people at the local bars talking about Owiso, the mkokoteni pusher vying for MCA who we all hope will win. On my way to my apartment, I scan the fingers of fellow pedestrians, looking for the familiar blue ink on their fingers.
Linda Musita talked to Enkare editor, Carey Baraka about her short story, Squad, on Enkare Review this week, her writing process and feminism.
First, your story, Squad, is in the form of a conversation between two friends. What was the writing process for this particular story like?
They are not friends as friends should be, are they? Anyway, the story took five months to write. I tried writing it in first person and it didn’t come out right. Third person did not work either. So I decided to try writing it in the same style as I wrote Kudinyana…more dialogue and less description. It worked. The tone I was looking for fell into place and it was easier (and faster) to pass the message I wanted to pass in conversation form than it was in proper, traditional prose. Plus dialogue is my strongest writing weapon. I also edited it a lot. It touches on a sensitive issue and I could not afford to be misunderstood. I also wanted the final product to have as much weight as possible because most readers think that anyone who writes a conversation from start to finish and calls it a short story is lazy. Not the case. This story took a lot of my time and feelings. I am glad I don’t have to deal with it anymore.
Readers of Namwali Serpell’s work are no strangers to her ‘unusual’ and experimental writing style. Her short story, Account, on Enkare Review this week is in the format of a bank statement and the credit card transactions therein, “read slowly and carefully, the way detectives read bank statements,” give us the sad and tragic tale of a young girl.
The entire story, Account, is a bank statement. What was the process of writing this story like?
I was recovering from surgery when I wrote this story. I spent an inordinate amount of time in bed working on the design layout. I wanted it to look exactly like a real bank statement. I was pleased to learn that I succeeded with at least one reader. When I emailed it to my agent, he thought I had been on such strong pain medication that I had deliriously sent him my own bank statement by mistake!
The Ghosts of 1894 is the second novel by Kenyan author Oduor Jagero, his first having been ‘True Citizen’. Oduor Jagero’s novels have both been self-published. The Ghosts of 1894 is an account of the concept of home and the enduring nature of the human spirit. Set in Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya, it is the story of Habineza, the protagonist, as he is assailed by tribal-based violence across the three countries. He is forced to flee from the three countries at different points in his life, events that form the core of the book.