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Articles tagged "Kenya"

Exploring Unfamiliar Territory: Translating “Poor Grandpa”

For decades I stubbornly refused to translate my own work into English.  For most of my life, I lived and worked in East Africa, the cradle of the Swahili language, so I didn’t realize how little of Swahili literature was read outside the region. I have since realized the need to share the riches of Swahili literature through translation. It also dawned on me that poor translations done by others may ruin the beauty of  the original. This point was driven home by the...

Poor Grandpa!

I never wanted to remember at all, let alone write about, what transpired when I took a walk with Grandpa to the sprawling Kariobangi slum area, that part of the slum known as Korogocho. I didn’t want to look back again, to reopen an old wound. An open sore for which there is no remedy, one that has refused to improve to a scar. An open sore. A huge open sore. It oozes with pus and discomfort, and constantly fills me with fright. However, my friends have urged me to write in detail...

Garbage

Chokora. Garbage. Now I know why they call them that. They are of the same color as the street, a noncolor, one that time, wear and tear leave on things like an indelible patina, a distilled filth, that amalgamates and stains hands, heads, shoes. They are walking rags. Their bodies are coated with layers of filth, they are lost, emaciated, rachitic, inside their shapeless jackets, beat-up overcoats, sweatshirts that the passage of days and months have totally faded into oneness with the...

from Three Dreams on Mount Meru

Today, in the year 1170 of the Hegira, as I finish the narration of my journey to Mount Meru, I can't help thinking about Omui. He was the best storyteller in all Mombasa. The fabulous stories he would tell every Friday in the square in front of the grand mosque always enchanted me. I keep the memory of that man alive within me. I like to think that I'm made of the same stuff and that like him, I too belong to the race of enchanters. Of course, I'm guilty of pride to think...

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