- I finished reading HomeGrown Hero by Khurrum Rahman where the answer to the question, “whose side are you on? could definitely get you killed.
- I am currently reading “Black Gold: The Dangerous History of Coffee” by Antony Wild whose writing I find much more akin to a Journalist and less of a Historian.
- I can’t wait to read “White Teeth by Zadie Smith”
It is 9:17pm as I start typing away and I know it will take me twelve minutes to finish writing what I have to say and hit that publish button. However, my love for referencing time in my blog posts stems from writing in my journal every evening and including the snippets of activities I did during the day.
So, here I am having embarked on a new writing project hoping that the part of me that is a bunch of opinions gets an outlet. I set up another blog this week called Achieng Writes.
I received my September book haul comprised of six books bought from Text Book Centre.
There are two things I am doing more often to improve my writing and that’s: one- writing every morning from nine to ten o’clock and two- taking down more notes, snippets of ideas from k-drama, music and my latest fascination are podcasts.
I started drafting a new book and from the very beginning, it oozes nothing but romance and my younger sister read the first chapter and since then I have been unable to look at it without seeing the sneer in her face!
This year, one of my goals was to publish at least two books and I recently published Laana: Daughter of the Middle World and so far, I still struggle with marketing the book and balancing the networks I have established who always buy my books. The greatest feat for me was connecting with Nuria Bookstore- both a physical shop and online store here in Kenya, to enhance accessibility to readers.
As we move into September, I find myself more at peace reading books written by other writers and taking time off my latest draft. In so doing, I am also listening to more music and the album I have on replay is Chike’s The Brother’s Keeper– the one song that speaks to my worries being Pour me a drink
It’s the seventh day of August and here are seven things I’m into right now.
Tea. I have been drinking lots of tea lately
Stationery. I got some pens and a cute notebook from Miniso in Nairobi, not because I needed them, but because I couldn’t help myself- and now it sits pretty in my bag.
Salman Rushdie’s book called The Golden House
K-Drama: Extraordinary Attorney Woo and Alchemy of Souls, Cafe Minamdang
My books. I am finally getting to the point where I am fully present in accepting the work I put into what I write. I need to market my books more, get more people buying copies-and talking about them, and on my way there, I am in awe of all that I have done.
Listening to music. I listen to music in the supermarket, in the matatu and when I take evening walks.
Writing notes on everything. I find myself scribbling things on notebooks, sticky-notes, supermarket receipts and the one that got me was finally buying a scrap book yesterday because I want to have all of them in one place for future reference.
There is something,
No, it feels more like a gathering,
Of thoughts, memories, emotions, a swelling
It calls me here,
To the city where only I have walked certain paths, lived certain days,
Made certain memories.
There is something, I just don’t want to explore what it is.
What is life but a collection of memories? This is what kept playing in my mind today, just thinking about the experiences I have had and how it’s got me where I am.
You could argue that there is more to life, and it’s not just memories- but in my reflection, I could only agree on four things that I definitely need to let go of now and they are:
- The idea of a perfect life. I had plans and then I had to seek opportunities and somewhere along the way COVID-19, corruption and the ability of my country to create scarcity of resources at will-had me accept that there’s no such thing as perfect, or soft life, it is what it is that moment.
- Over-planning or shall I say too many schedules. I haven’t even started working on this.
- Anything I own that does not bring me joy. Look, I got 3 bluetooth speakers, the first one because it looked cute, the second because they said it had bass-but truly speaking it doesn’t even adhere to volume and the final one because it has both FM and alarm clocks. But, I don’t use them often and I found it easier giving them out to close friends, because none of them were in use or thrilling to have.
- The constant need to be in control of everything. Listen, I find myself struggling with this especially in wanting to have everything align to my desires and no matter how many times it hits me that the universe does not live for me, I cannot help but want to know- when, how, where, why, what time, what for?
On the flip side of this, are the two things I should let go of but cannot seem to:
- Dependency on social media– I love Instagram, and can’t go a day without checking out reels or photos or trending hashtags
- Kitenge clothing I haven’t worn in a year: Because well, they are custom made and still fit me and in good condition and just uniquely me. Truly!
At some point, there are things that weigh you down whether its consciously or unconsciously and I am learning that you can work on the outside and people can see it, but unless you work on the inside, you still drag around the baggage.
I’ve been in Bujumbura for a week. It’s the economic capital of Burundi, however, the country has another capital which was officiated by their former president and parliament, called Gitega.
Their airport is called the Melchior Ndadaye-Bujumbura International airport. With the advent of COVID-19, this has got to be the only airport I know that demands you pay $100 (in that exact currency) for a covid test as a foreigner-upon both arrival and departure.
I landed here from Nairobi and immediately loved it, given that it’s summer here and the temperature is 27 degrees Celcius. The tropical weather is also due to its proximity to Lake Tanganyika and as a nation, they export coffee, cotton and tin. I got to visit the beach and walk in the sand on a hot Sunday afternoon-they have a lot of establishments along the beach-and you can choose which ones to visit and what to eat while you listen to some awesome afro-beats music.
The other thing that came as a shock for the Kenyan in me are their taxis. In Kenya, the Probox Succeed vehicles are known as “gari ya biashara,” and in Mbita where I reside, these vehicles carry at least 10 passengers plus the driver-but here they can carry only a maximum of four! The country is undergoing a fuel shortage crisis and they queue for hours to get fuel, but these people still carry 4 and not even six or seven!
The other shock, is their portions- they serve a lot of food and I love my soda, so getting to drink Fanta Citrus here was like getting my fix. Their vegetable is called ‘lengalenga’ and it’s got to be the most delicious ‘mboga kienyeji’ I have had.
Give the influence of expats here, and having been colonized by the French- most of them speak in French and Kirundi (I can only say good morning in this language, everything else is lost on me)- and few speak English. I got a treat of awesome cake and coffee at Le Café Gourmand in the city.
It’s been a week of me just accepting the fact that I am not in Kenya and loving the kindness and company of the team I am working with here, and above all getting to understand and empathize with this country for the tumultuous history its had, and the frustration of young people who desire grow and prefer to leave and not look back. Everything here takes time, more like no one is in a hurry to do more than one thing and the Kenyan in me is learning not to be frustrated after coming to know more of their history and culture.
Have a great weekend wherever you are.
My love told me the truth,
It’s the way it came out of him, like smoke out of a chimney on a cold July morning,
And the smoke stated “you are a writer, isn’t it within you to find the right words?”
And so like any other battle, he set the pace for war,
And I have been in turmoil ever since then,
Because I do not see myself in those words, rather, I desire composition.
I desire notes, movements, moments, pauses…chills, emotions, Mozart, Bach, I desire the serenade of violins and concertos, thoughts evoked only by melody, arranged over time like symphonies…hands in the air, eyes closed…composition,
Not the anguish or effort of the Composer!
My name is Laana and where it is a beautiful word to utter and easy on the tongue, it is what my people know as a curse. I am the cursed one. I was born on a stormy night at the exact time that thunder struck and the moon was right above the singing forest. Everyone knows not to utter a sound when it pours but I came into the world screaming at the moon.
My people cannot begin to understand where I draw my powers from and so they would rather call me cursed than stand in judgment of their secrets revealed. My home serves as the boundary between our people and the people of Jirani. They too have someone whom they look up to like we do; their source can make the sun stand still or send the rain away, I wouldn’t know because I have never met their source- these are the stories I hear in the market or in the dance arena when I sneak quietly to attend events, or watch the dance of the maidens every year as hosted by the royal family.
An excerpt from the book, Laana: Daughter of the Middle World
I have been writing stories in my head. Yes, not just telling or vividly imagining things but writing them so well that at times I get disappointed when I wake up and read the notes I took down mid-sleep. However, I am confident in my love for and ability to write historical fantasy. If it involves an African kingdom, the spiritual realm of gods, spirits, seers and women- well, I enjoy writing such stories. The previous books I’ve published which explore these themes are: The Currents Series ( Fire, water, Wind & Earth) and Zuri: The Chronicler of Enzi.
On writing: It is my love for fantasy and such stories that have me confident in saying that I am finally releasing my latest book, Laana: Daughter of the Middle World, in the first week of July 2022.
On reading: I read Everyday by David Levithan this morning and the concept was quite appealing to me, because it is told by A, a 16-year old boy who is a drifter. He wakes up in a different body of someone of his age everyday, and he’s used to not making a fuss or disrupting their lives for those 24 hours, that’s until he meets a girl he likes. I am currently reading another book by another David. It’s The Indian Clerk by David Leavitt. The blurb states it is based on the life and relationship between Mathematicians, Ramanujan and Hardy- and if you love Math and know about the concept of Infinity-this is must read, and personally, I just finished watching Melancholia where both Mathematicians were referenced.
On life and work: The month of June has been involving with travel to schools and with work, I am learning to schedule and plan out most of my responsibilities. On the fun side, my love for kiondos has seen me but a variety of kiondos (shapes, sizes and colors) just to have the collection. I bought three this month and can’t wait to carry them.
I look forward to July and to the experiences that I would be involved in and can only hope for the very best. Until then, I stocked up on notebooks, pencils and a lot of pens to gather my wits and ideas for the next book.
Have a wonderful weekend. Stay safe.
I watched you walk away,
It’s your heart that I couldn’t sway.
So, I watched you walk away,
And counted the footprints that led you away.