Books and conversations

I’m reading a number of interesting books right now and talking to people who are in some way a huge part of Kenya’s history.

That is to say-everyone.

One of the things that keeps coming up is that it’s dangerous to frame this #WomanxKenyanHistory as a feminist or womanist endeavour. The argument is that these stories are already being told at home, within families.

I think there’s a huge need to document these stories. I know there is. There are only so many people at the forefront of history, so many years they will be alive.

I’ve been swamped at work and would have loved to write a new instalment today but I want to do justice to the tales this nation is full of.

Keep sending me stories, calling, emailing, asking questions to spur lines of enquiry. I appreciate every one of those things.

Here’s to documenting #WomenxKenyanHistory stories.

Note: This post is part of #CuminWrites366, my year-long attempt to write a post a day. Find the rest over at readability.com/cuminwrites/

Questions, comments, suggestions or women’s stories to share? Send them to cuminwrites@gmail.com 🙂


#Ed10Reads second edition

This post is to remind you to save the date, folks.

Thanks for coming for the inaugural #Ed10Reads meeting at Spire Education last month.

Thanks to His Holiness, we’re pushing this month’s to next week Thursday.  The topic of the next discussion is ‘The theoretical foundation of the 8-4-4 System’. I imagine more than one of us will have a lot of things to say. In keeping with the spirit of #Ed10Reads, we seek to study up and be informed when we get to the conversation. It definitely makes the conversation very enriching!

We’ll probably have it at PAWA254 and we’ll keep you posted if the location changes.

Excited already? Sign up here, study up, tweet using #Ed10Reads and see you on December 3rd!


Conversations on representation

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot on the need for diversity. Colour, religion (or its absence), gender, orientation, class. If one is on the outside looking in, it feels like all it requires is for someone to hire a number of people who are different, to give them a seat at the table.

I come to this writing as a person who is sometimes an Outsider but also, sometimes in uncomfortable ways, an Insider. It’s the latter that is so hard to question, but also so vital to acknowledge.

Selling my love of podcasts to a friend today, I was assailed by this fact: a lot of the podcasts I listen to are lily white and what diversity they have is in the form of white female presenters.

This is the power of a nudge from a friend: one of those podcasts recently had an episode in which they spoke about actively seeking a diversity of voices among the people you follow on Twitter. The response I had was more “Cool story, bro” than “What does this mean for me?”.

My friend’s challenge was this: do you have African podcasts on your list? As they rejected Africanist podcasts, I felt the gauntlet fall. I had to pause for a moment and confess that no, I don’t. So much for telling our stories. Now the search begins. [ Here’s one for you if you haven’t already subscribed: Beverly Ochieng & I host 2 Girls and a Pod, a literary podcast]

What African podcasts do you recommend?

Note: This post is part of #CuminWrites366, my year-long attempt to write a post a day. Find the rest over at readability.com/cuminwrites/

Questions, comments, suggestions or podcast recommendations? Send them to cuminwrites@gmail.com 🙂


Boning up on the constitution

I’m currently reading The Constitution of Kenya 2010 & remembering the excitement with which I voted for it and received the news that it would be promulgated.

How time flies, it seems. Facebook recently reminded me I posted a picture immediately after I left the polling centre. It felt bittersweet.

The copy I have is a small pocket edition released by Kenya Law Reports. As I rode the bus today morning, the child seated next to me kept looking at it and I wanted to tell him just how much this means.

Here’s hoping that re-reading the constitution can rekindle the fire that once burned in my heart. It may just recharge whatever social justice batteries I feel are running low.

Note: This post is part of #CuminWrites366, my year-long attempt to write a post a day. Find the rest over at readability.com/cuminwrites/

Questions, comments, suggestions or Constitutional stories to share? Send them to cuminwrites@gmail.com 🙂


Lady Democracy

The first time I encountered Chelagat Mutai, it was in the pages of Coming to Birth by Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye. The most recent was when her photo floated down my Twitter timeline as part of the Courage exhibition outside the Kenya Archives.

I am curious about how her story has disappeared from the public conscience. If this post is anything to go by, it makes some sense that she never really featured.

Chelagat Mutai is an alumna of what is now Moi Girls School Eldoret, a fact I gleaned from reading a profile of Nyeri MP Esther Murugi. Is there an award or  scholarship fund dedicated to her memory there?

In the 70s, Chelagat was arrested for her efforts to make sure there was fair land distribution. With that in mind, it’s a tragedy that over the three decades that followed, Kenyans would go at each other’s throats over land-related issues.

What inspired a young leader, a woman in a time less liberal than this, to run for the Eldoret North seat? How is it she was able to win a seat at 24 (24! Imagine that!) and yet had to flee from the country?

Somehow, between her time associating with the bearded sisters and the rise of the NDP and other opposition parties, our lady disappeared from the political scene. This makes, to me, no sense. There was more freedom in the early days of the Kibaki administration, it seemed, yet it took Raila’s ‘rescuing’ for her to get  much-needed medical care.

I’d like to know why she disappeared for decades, why on her return she lay so low, why she yields more questions than answers. For a woman whose legacy is so rich to have such a remarkably sad end beggars belief.

Note: This post is part of#CuminWrites366, my year-long attempt to write a post a day. Find the rest over at readability.com/cuminwrites/

Questions, comments, suggestions or Chelagat Mutai stories to share? Send them to cuminwrites@gmail.com 🙂


Introducing Women’s Kenyan History

My friend Roo put me to task last week when I complained about the male-centric looks at Kenyan history that litter the internet. My argument was that even highlights in history are experienced differently and that some things that are a blip in the radars of men are major events for women. We have had a variation of this conversation more than once but this time, there was a twist: Do it yourself, he said.

Why not, I thought? I am interested in Kenyan history, I am a woman, and I listen to women’s tales in my family in the context of history. It would be interesting, I agreed, to tell stories about Kenya and say, “Hey, Kenyan women went through this period like this.”

In what could be interpreted as a message from the universe, I met the interesting Cera Njagi of Kenyan Feminist and we had a wonderful conversation around this. I see interesting conversations and writing coming of it.

Where do you come in? Please send me stories, leads, ideas, questions or books. If there’s a time in history you are particularly knowledgeable about and want to talk about it with a writer or a book that you’ve read that was particularly illuminating, shoot me that message.

I intend to make it a fortnightly event, starting this Wednesday. Here’s to the first instalment this Wednesday!

Note: This post is part of #CuminWrites366, my year-long attempt to write a post a day. Find the rest over at readability.com/cuminwrites/

Questions, comments, suggestions or thoughts on privacy? Send them to cuminwrites@gmail.com 🙂


The week ahead

That’s a strange title to have as Monday draws to an end, maybe. Just a reminder to myself that the week will be interesting (and an open invitation to those who’d be happy to come along).

25th – 28th of this month sees a host of African Futures events around the city. Beverly, my co-host on the literary podcast Two Girls And A Pod, & I are especially excited about the book-related things that will come of them.

Thursday is the day of the first #Ed10Reads meeting at Spire Education & you can tell I’m excited. I think it will be an exciting event and I look forward to seeing those of you interested in education at Spire (6pm-8pm) or on Twitter. 🙂

Laila Le Guen and I love to read and that led to us starting LGM Editing. To celebrate our website launch (12.30pm-1pm on Friday), and start off the weekend, we’re going to have a show-and-tell event at iHub where we are community members. Come and find out what two editors who span continents and languages have to offer.

The week may yet serve up more delights…

Note: This post is part of #CuminWrites366, my year-long attempt to write a post a day. Find the rest over at readability.com/cuminwrites/

Questions, comments, suggestions or post-event plans? Send them to cuminwrites@gmail.com 🙂


Here we go!

Hello reader 🙂

My name is Nyambura Mutanyi and I’m excited about a lot of things and I would like to share them with you here. I have been blogging on and off for the last 6.5 years and I’m looking to acquire the discipline around writing while sharing the things that matter to me.

With that in mind, this blog will cover 3 key things: education, books & travel. These three are my passions and limiting myself to them may just be the constraint I need to blog often and (hopefully) well.

I hope you enjoy the ride! 🙂