In the next thirty days, lovers of local autobiographies will be spoilt for choice as four known Kenyans hit the market with their life experiences, signaling a growing trend among citizens of this East African nation to record their life stories for posterity.
After Raila Odinga’s Flame of Freedom last October, and former Minister Joe Wanjigi’s Shepherd Boy in Search of Virtue, two months later, Jeff Koinange’s life narration under the title, Through My African Eyes, will be in bookshops in the next few weeks.
Koinange is an acclaimed international news correspondent who worked for the CNN, among other broadcasters, and now presents a popular talk show, On The Bench, on the Kenya Television Network.
In a recent review in the Saturday Nation, Joyce Nyairo, a prolific book critic said Koinange’s book “is poised to enter the realm of Kenyan biographies way up high, on the wings of eagles” because of its rich chronicle of events across Africa.
Joe Wanjui, an entrepreneur per excellence is another Kenyan whose life will be laid bare in his upcoming autobiography, The Native Son: Experiences of a Kenyan Entrepreneur. Wanjui was also a close confidante of former President Mwai Kibaki, serving in his campaign team in the National Rainbow Coalition and as his adviser. The book is full of political anecdotes.
Tom Odhiambo of the University of Nairobi who reviewed The Native Son recently says the book “captures some of the most critical political moments”
Also expected to hit the book shelves within the next month is my Dash Before Dusk: A Slave Descendant’s Journey in Freedom, a riveting story that is as much about myself as about the abominable slave trade along the East African Coast.
I trace my ancestors – from their capture by slave traders in Nyasaland and Tanganyika, their rescue in the high seas and their eventual settlement at Rabai near Mombasa; and I detail my life from birth at the Civil Native Hospital in Mombasa to an enriching professional adulthood as a journalist, diplomat and politician. This is a captivating story of failures and successes, joys and sorrows.
Dash Before Dusk will be my second non-fiction book after the successful release in 2011 of the Politics of Betrayal: Diary of a Kenyan Legislator. a political memoir that explored events in Kenya between 2001 and 2008.
Reports are also circulating that an autobiography by Jeremiah Kiereini, a former Head of the Civil Service, is on the way and is likely to be released within the next few weeks.
The sudden proliferation of autobiographies in recent years proves two things. One, that an increasing number of Kenyans want to share their life experiences with others and no longer wish to take their “secrets” to the grave; and two, autobiography, as a form of literature, is proving as popular in the country as works of fiction.
And that is my say.