Liberation Lit Focus: Kenya




      Guest Editor: Shalini Gidoomal 

Contributions to Focus: Kenya are by members of Concerned Kenyan Writers –
“a coalition whose purpose is to use writing skills to help save Kenya in this polarised time.”

Personal narratives and analyses, poems, and a play.

Works / Linked / Authors


Lessons Learnt – by Doreen Baingana
The Obituary of Simiyu Barasa, Written by Himself – by Simiyu Barasa
Unsung Heroes of Kenya – by Mike Eldon
Marbles and Ballot Boxes – by Dayo Forster
Kengemi’s Fly on the Wall  – by Stanley Gazemba
Let Kenyans Take the Lead – by Shalini Gidoomal
No Laughing Matter – by Judy Kibinge
The Fire This Time – by Martin Kimani
A Tribute to the Man in Black – Vivek Mehta
The Brinkipice of Genocide – by Tony Mochama
2 Poems – by Betty Muragori
I Was Near to Die – by Wambui Mwangi
Translated from Kibakizungu – by Wambui Mwangi
When the Nakumatts Close – by Wambui Mwangi
A Moment – by Yvonne A. Owuor
Echoes – by Yvonne A. Owuor
6 Poems – by Stephen Derwent Partington
Praise Poem – by Stephen Derwent Partington
An Open Letter – by Shailja Patel
I Blame Kibaki – by Potash
We the Kikuyu – by Potash
Unsettled – by Kalundi Serumaga
Love’s Indomitable Spirit Still Alive in Kenya – by Rasna Warah



Elections in Kenya – by Mukoma Ngugi
Kenyans Rally for a New Constitution – by Multiple Authors
Flames In Kenya – by Bill Fletcher Jr.
Inequality, Not Identity, Fuels Violence in Kenya – by Yifat Susskind



Doreen Baingana
Author of “Tropical Fish: Stories out of Entebbe,” which won a Commonwealth Prize in 2006, among others. She considers Kenya one of her literary homes.

Simiyu Barasa
Kenyan filmmaker and writer. He was Writer/Director of the Feature film ‘Toto Millionaire’ (2007) and has written for numerous Kenyan dramas like Makutano Junction, Tahidi High and Wingu la Moto. He was on the Editorial Board of Kwani? 3, Kenyas literary journal, and his fiction has appeared in Africa Fresh: Voices from the First Continent. His opinions have appeared on NewYork Times, Nigerian Guardian, and South African Southern Times.

Mike Eldon

Dayo Forster
A novelist whose first book, Reading the Ceiling, was published by Simon and Schuster in 2007. She lives in Nairobi where she also works part-time as a financial sector development consultant. 

Stanley Gazemba
Trained as a journalist. Lives in Kangemi, Nairobi. Writes for Sunday Nation and Msanii Magazine (Published by RAMOMA). Author of the novel The Stone Hills of Maragoli, which won the 2003 Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature. Author of 5 childrens’ books: Poko at the Koras, Poko and the Jet, Shaka Zulu, The Herdsboy and the Princess, and Tobi and the Street boy. Attended the Caine Prize Writers’ workshop in Cape Town, South Africa in 2003. A fellow at the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference, Vermont, USA in 2007.

Shalini Gidoomal
Kenya-born journalist and writer who has worked extensively for a variety of UK national newspapers and magazines including the Independent, News of the World, Today, Architectural Digest, GQ and FHM, and has contributed short stories to various anthologies including Kwani 04 and two Caine Prize anthologies. She is a member of Concerned Kenyan Writers, Concerned Concerned Citizens for Peace, and is editorial co-ordinator for GenerationKenya 45.

Judy Kibinge
Filmmaker, writer and artist. She lives in Nairobi.

Martin Kimani
Lives and works in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He has previously been a Teaching Fellow at the Joint Services Command and Staff College in Shrivenham, UK and an Associate of the Conflict Security and Development Group of King’s College of the University of London where he is a doctoral candidate. He can be reached at

Vivek Mehta

Tony Mochama

Betty Muragori
Has a degree in Botany and zoology from the University of Nairobi and a Masters degree in Environmental Studies from Clark University in Massachusetts, USA. Together with a friend Betty started a consultancy, Sienna Associates in March 2003.

Wambui Mwangi
Scholar and writer. She lives in Toronto and Nairobi, teaches at the University of Toronto, and blogs occasionally on Diary of a Mad Kenyan Woman. She is the Director of GenerationKenya.

Yvonne A. Owuor
A storyteller who lives in Nairobi. She has contributed numerous short stories to different publications worldwide. Her story about the consequences of regional civil strife, Weight of Whispers, won the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2003. She has at last finalised work on her first novel, working title Red Rain. A contributor to Kwani, and a traveller, she is suddenly rabidly possessive about her country, Kenya.

Stephen Derwent Partington
Teacher in Kenya, and poet. He lives and works just outside Machakos. A collection of poems, SMS & Face to Face, was published by Phoenix, Kenya.

Shailja Patel
Kenyan poet, playwright and theatre artist, Shailja Patel, has featured at venues from New York’s Lincoln Center to the Zanzibar International Film Festival. Her first full-length show, Migritude, premiered to standing ovations in San Francisco, and was chosen for the season premiere of KQED TV’s Arts and Culture programme. The Ford Foundation funded Migritude‘s critically-acclaimed tour of Kenya in 2008. Patel has spoken at over thirty colleges, universities, and conferences, including keynote student conference addresses at Yale and Brown. Her poems are included in the online exhibits of the International Museum of Women, the Museum of the African Diaspora, and the Asian Poets Collection of New York University. They have been translated into several languages, and used in high schools, colleges, and workshops from South Africa to Japan. Patel’s work has received awards from, among others, the National Performance Network, Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation, the New York Lesbian and Gay Center, and Indian American Women Empowered. Visit her at

Potash authors the blog A Kenyan Urban Narrative. His blog has suffered the bane of lesser writers: Demise in the face of critical acclaim. Having lost his street credibility to the embrace of Nairobi’s Literati, Potash’s blog is no longer the gritty voice of Nairobi’s underground. His old friends from his street days have taken to whispering, with mounting anger and loathing, that Potash has gone out and got himself a regular job and a pinstriped suit. The bigger question is: Who reads him any more?

Kalundi Serumaga
Part of the immediate post-independence generation (born in the  early sixties). Grew up in Uganda, apart from formal education, was trained as an actor for the Abafumi Theatre Comapany in adolescence. Found himself in Kenya after family had to flee Amin persecution of the artistic community. Spent adolescence and very early 20’s growing up in Kenya as part of the very politically active Ugandan exile community, which cost father (Robert Serumaga 1939-1980: actor, writer, soldier, politician, theatre director) his life. Moved to UK. Remained very active in Uganda exile community politics there. Acquired two degrees: Government/Management (BA) and Independent Film-making (MA). Returned to Uganda in early ’90s. Is active in the media and artistic scenes. Worked as Director, Uganda National Cultural Centre/National Theatre for 5 years and later Director for a global, very confused NGO. Left while still sane. Works now as an Independent film maker, media and artistic consultant, as well as host of a politically focused radio show in Kampala that several politicians (including President Museveni) have reportedly vowed never to return to, having been interviewed there. Recently had on-air contretemps with one Dr. Alfred Mutua there. Recently completed a documentary on the land disputes among Uganda and Kenya’s Kalenjin people (was in KIFF). Currently completing a documentary on the crisis of the Anglican church in Africa, from an African perspective. Campaigner for native rights in Uganda, as well as founder of the Serumaga Centre For The Arts.

Rasna Warah
A columnist with Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper, Rasna Warah has been variously described as a recovering UN employee, a slum journalist and a failed novelist. Her work has appeared in various national and international publications, including Kwani?, South Africa’s Mail and Guardian, BBC Online, People and the Planet, Habitat Debate and Sustainable Development International. She has contributed to various books and anthologies, including the State of the World 2007 by the Worldwatch Institute and was editor and co-author of UN-Habitat’s State of the World’s Cities 2006/7, which examines living conditions in the world’s slums. She is also the author of Triple Heritage: A Journey to Self-discovery (1998), which looks at the social, economic and political history of Asians in Kenya. She has edited and compiled an anthology that critiques the way development is practised in Africa, and is currently looking for potential publishers.

Focus features, while involving imaginative works, add various forms of nonfiction views to the liberatory mix.