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.
The back story of poems is rarely known. What we are stuck with are suppositions and probabilities, and the boring work of interpretations. There are poems that are mindfully open and direct the reader to a specific interpretation of their work. They leave lampposts along the path, and a reader can pierce the journey, chalk it on their palms and glimpse at meanings. Other poems are labyrinths. Getting lost is the norm. But like, Jane Hirshfield says, “to step into a poem is to agree to risk. Poetry is a trick of language-legerdemain, in which the writer is both magician and audience. You reach your hand into the hat and surprise yourself with a rabbit or memory, with an odd verb or slant rhyme or the flashing scarf of an image.” This reading attempts to make sense of the #Babishai2016 Poetry Shortlist.
The five entries shortlisted for the 2016 Writivism Short Story Prize (available on Munyori Literary journal) are stories we should all be eager to read since they explore an array of pertinent issues. Each of the stories boasts of a certain singularity and portrays the individual styles of the writers as they bring to us tales that leave us both in admiration and jealous of their talents.
Gloria Mwaniga’s “Boyi”, is a beautifully penned story that reminds us of the ravaging violence meted out on the people of the Mount Elgon region in Kenya by the militia group known as the Sabaot Land Defence Force (SALADEF). The story, narrated in first person by Boyi’s sister, follows Boyi’s family as it grapples with pain after their father, accused of betrayal when he lends the government surveyor a machete, hands over Boyi to the militia leader so as to save his family. And that is where the story begins. Grief engulfs the protagonist’s home and through this limbo and uncertainty as to whether Boyi is alive or not, we get to know more about his family.