Billy Kahora’s short fiction and creative non-fiction has appeared in Chimurenga, McSweeney’s, Granta Online, Internazionale and Vanity Fair and Kwani. He has written a non-fiction novella titled The True Story Of David Munyakei. His story Urban Zoning was shortlisted for the prize in 2012, The Gorilla’s Apprentice in 2014. He wrote the screenplay for Soul Boy and co-wrote Nairobi Half Life which both won the Kalasha awards. He is working on a novel titled The Applications. A short story collection The Cape Cod Bicycle War and Other Youthful Follies will be released soon. As Managing Editor of Kwani Trust he has edited 7 issues of the Kwani journal and other Kwani publications including Nairobi 24 and Kenya Burning. He is also a Contributing Editor with the Chimurenga Chronic. He has been Kwani Litfest Curator since 2008 and recently curated Kwani Litfest 2015 Writers In Conversation: Beyond The Map Of English. Carey Baraka talked to him about his short story on Enkare Review, World Pawa, and his fiction-writing.
‘Charity begins at work,’ she says
at every desk she stops at in her workplace, Domestic Revenue, ExtelComms Inspectorate. She licks her lips – a
nervous habit from childhood – trying to recruit members. A few have promised
to join the Chinese venture, Kianshi Multi-marketing, that she has just signed
up as an agent for: Mama Kitu, the Domestic Revenue manager’s soon-to-retire
secretary, who has a sausage and ‘Buru Buru free-range’ eggs business; Bob
‘just call me Bobby’ Onyango, who offers green card opportunities for a price, and
who starts asking Jemimah whether she can hook him up with red cards to go to
China – Bobby says he needs a new product and he sees potential in their
working together; Assumpta from Engineering. Then there is Silas, the intern
from Domestic Revenue, and Dennis Wafula from Wires and Cables, who needs
something on the side to help him pay school fees for his twelve children.
Ayesha Harruna Attah is the author of Harmattan Rain, Saturday’s Shadows, and The Hundred Wells of Salaga. She grew up in Accra, Ghana and was educated at Mount Holyoke College, Columbia University, and New York University. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Asymptote Magazine, and the 2010 Caine Prize Writers’ Anthology. Attah is an Instituto Sacatar Fellow and was awarded the 2016 Miles Morland Foundation Scholarship for nonfiction. She lives in Senegal. Carey Baraka had a conversation with her about The Hundred Wells of Salaga, her writing, and other things in-between.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup kicked off in Moscow, Russia on 14th June 2018. In the lead-up to this, Carey Baraka and Lidudumalingani had a conversation around the tournament, about football, about writing about, listening to, and playing football.
“Why can we never talk about the blood. the blood of our ancestors. the blood of our history. the blood between our legs.” – Nayyirah Waheed.
There was a woman who lived with my family between the time I was two and five. She stood behind the beige striped curtain that led to my mother’s room and played with my grandmother’s slick white hair when she sat at the dining table. I was the only one who saw her, who noticed the flicker in her eyes and her crooked one-sided smile. They took me for prayers in our church on a Friday evening after school. The church was dimly lit with two energy bulbs hanging from the ceiling. There were five of us kneeling by the pulpit: Martha Ojuri, whose pupils receded to the back of her head when she was sent on errands; Ifeko, who wet her bed; Samad, who stole meat from his mother’s pot; Kechi, who never did his homework; and I, the girl who saw a woman that was not there. I stared at them, studying the patterns on their house clothes. Someone smacked my cheeks and ordered me to close my eyes and say ‘Amen’. I bowed my head and left my eyes open to stare at the sturdy cemented ground below. The grownups prayed and sang hymns over us. They held hands to form a circle around us. In school, Ms. Agoro had just taught colours and every morning through the week, my classmates and I had to point out colours on various things in our environment: the board was black, our tables were brown, the swing set was yellow. I thought of colours as they prayed. I thought of the colour of grass in the school garden until it stretched my mind into a sandy field.
The first time I looked at the child was six years ago.
My right femur could no longer hold itself; as a child, it was always in constant competition with the left, a competition it lost repeatedly. When I was two, the left femur was only in the lead by a centimetre or so, and when I walked, my left foot planted on the ground whilst the right remained slightly elevated, as if it were accommodating invisible high heels. My mother’s friends used to think I did it on purpose.
By age ten, my left femur had emerged the clear winner; the right was behind by a good five centimetres. By then it was clear that my legs, through no fault of mine, had decided to grow at unequal paces.
So the shorter femur was broken by a team of doctors using a sterilised saw when I was seventeen.
The break was held in place by six metal rods that were like a family of five brothers, identical in weight shape and length, and a sixth; a sister who was slim where her brothers were wide and deft. So deft that she alone was selected to do what the others could not; while her brothers were arranged to support different parts of my femur, she was given a special task.