I love reading...I love my Daddy

11:56:00 AM

Reading at one of my events
Growing up and living the Actuarial dream, I was very introverted and I sure loved to read when I wasn't busy with all the Mathematics. My dad introduced me to books at an early age, he had volumes and volumes of John Grisham, Robert Ludlum, a few Jeffery Archers and other selected authors, a few self help, I think We had The Art of War, 48 laws of power or something but the first two he got when they still hot. I remember days when he would come home early, play a little football with us, I am the only girl, so it was the only option, they wouldn't play house with me, watch the 15 mins news and switch off the TV and read until supper was ready. I would like to believe my ability to shut people and things off was born from watching this discipline in him. Mr. Wafula, you were my role model then, you still are...love you daddy.

Well life happened along the way, the Actuarial dream was snatched off my plate when I had my knife and fork ready for the meal and well there has been loads of ups and downs and more ups and other downs but the important thing is that I am here and the things that are truly mine have proven faithful; my smile is still there, I love my Rhumba and listening to Sun Downer on KBC every evening, other traits I inherited from my dad and I love reading, I added writing along the way...hence the whole poetic angle.
The first book I ever read was Ben Carson's Think Big. My dad bought it for me when I was in form 3, someone borrowed it and never returned it. After high school I played loads of catch up my dad's collection, I remember all the Bourne titles, still confuse Ludlum and Grisham, one was a lawyer type and the other sci-fi. If you ever wondered how my BFF and I met, it was thanks to one of my dad's books. I managed to keep some of his books when they were relocating to Kitale and so the BFF asked to see the book and he borrowed it as a pick up line and six years later loads of drama in between, our 'friendship' has proven faithful...Heart you big sweetie.

Ngugi wa Thiong'o's A Grain of Wheat
Having the foundation, I also started my own collection and my first stop was African writers,there is this shop on Koinange Street near the University way road that has an amazing collection for pocket friendly rates. I had never read Chinua Achebe and Ngugi wa Thing'o and I fell in love, a few of my poems are born from their books and I can trace my 'political activism' if it exists, to those books...my love and respect for Dedan Kimathi without a doubt came from there. I have three of his pictures on my screen saver. This love for book and what they can do saw me, start books and blogs last year which I have now incorporated to my monthly gig, Sitawa Ignited and saw me host a book swap last year during the 100 thousand poets for change event that saw us donate books to Baba Dogo

My reading spike went under towards the end of the year because of the business of event planning and being online. But I decided to make a conscious decision like my Daddy to shut off stuff(and people) around me and over the past few months, I reconnected with my love for reading. It all started with a very random book I got in the house, Mejja Mwangi's Going down River Road and I just found it amazing since I have no street smart on that side of the street and it didn’t help much since it was written decades ago. Then on a random week day, I had just gotten to Nairobi from Kericho and there it was, The Clothes on their backs;Linda Grant's Man Booker Prize Shortlisted copy on the street going for 50 Ksh. That was the most rewarding part of that whole trip, over and above the amazing students at Moi University's Kabianga Constituent College.

Linda Grant's The Clothes on their Backs
The book is about a girl knowing about her past, dealing with the loss of a loved one, her husband died on their honeymoon, finding work and is so similar to the one I just finished, Tania Kindersley's goodbye johnny thunders which is also about a writer chick who moves to London, falls in love which Jack who has some secrets (he is hooked to drugs) I killed the suspense, huh? Anyway Jack is one of those fellow allergic to love and happiness and when Nancy tell him that she loves him, he flips and runs away never to be seen...yeah yeah I know...They were good reads for me. I learnt a lot about migration to America in the former and lived in London over the last few days thanks to the latter...In between I re-read our very own Ngugi wa Thiong'o's A grain of wheat. That was about that time we had the Kenya ni Kwetu Love Protest.

The book vendors near Railways with their pocket friendly books, make my hoarding possible...I bought the set below for 20 Ksh each...the BFF can bear witness. (Just finished the third one)

Each of this cost 20 bob
I do not know how you all choose the books you read and if your daddy's introduced you to the magical world of books but I go with the place I am at in my life and do advance buying based on the phases I go through so I read a whole mixture of books. I know loads of people who advocate for reading more 'intellectual' books but I personally believe that this movement that insists we do the whole self empowerment, self improvement, work on our marketing and communication skills and stick to all these 'grandiose' reads push bits and pieces of humanity out of us. Yes, I want to be a girl who is successful and happy and with loads of girly girl bits to her but I also want to be true to me and define success and happiness in my own language, I want to fantasize once in a while and also do strategic planning...so I will subscribe to all the books that bring this to my life. The only book I never substitute and never miss to study is The Bible.

...with my namesake and fellow poet, Sitawa Namwalie
at her Season Finale of Cut off my tongue (:
Lastly, in the spirit of keeping it Kenyan, I got myself a copy of my namesake Sitawa Namwalie's Cut off my tongue after seeing her amazing Season Finale show last weekend (Vote for her to represent Kenya in California next year http://talentsearch.ted.com/playlist/TEDnairobi ) . So next time, I am getting my poetic smarts on, which will be probably when I am invited to do a poetry workshop,I have her autographed copy and another autographed book from Philo Ikonya to keep me going. If you are looking for a Kenyan read that is not Ngugi or Mejja Mwangi, you would like to sample Chris Lyimo's My side of the street. It was my last new age Kenyan read, I do not have the book but the pdf version since I got a steal at it before it was published. It is an awesome book about his life as an alcoholic and the recovery process and uses an amazing theory of minding about your side of the street in short your business. I might be hosting it at the next Sitawa Ignited on August 25th at the Business Lounge, tickets 300...tweet me or use #sitawaignited to cop one. Keeping it with Chris Lyimo's book title, what type of books are y'all crazy about, what makes you buy the books you buy, who/ what do you attribute your love for reading to and what are y'all reading now?

PS: I am looking for Kiswahili read, the only copy I own is a poetry collection by my good friend Hajji, Bichi Boi, totally love his performance on this piece, think I will invite him for a Sitawa Ignited session so that you experience real Swahili flavor, no Sheng.

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