I publish from abroad on great Kenyan political and cultural themes. My Novels have been rated by aliens as “Literary,” (Not on My Skin; Sins of Our Hearts) “For the times” (The Luo Dreamers Odyssey); “Messianic” (The Wise One of Ramogiland); “A novel for a woman’s heart ” (Whisper to My Aching Heart), and the list of comments continues. But I wonder if we are still a reading generation, with library cards. Yet back home in East Africa, literary critics decrying of a literary drought, meaning that nobody writes a novel that begs you to think; a novel that goes beyond the emotion and demands that the reader reads between the lines. I am not exactly young, having been born in the mid 1950s, but my point of view was not tainted by colonial strings. All I remember as a little boy of six was my mother playing activist for either KANU or KADU; all I remember growing up was the order of the sixties descending into the strife of the late sixties and early seventies, as Kenyan leaders turned their guns of hate onto other Kenyans. Yet it was a Kenya where you applied for a post and received a response in the mail, it was a Kenya in which you went to a school you chose, your grades allowing. All that was until the so-called “district focus.” My writings are shaped by personal experiences in the 1960s to the19190s. But as a traveled man, some of my novels such as NOT OF MY SKIN, THE CHOIR MASTER, SINS OF OUR HEARTS, THE LUO DREAMERS ODYSSEY: FROM THE SUDAN TO AMERICAN POWER and THE AMERICAN POLYGAMIST borrow from my diaspora experience (17 years is a long time on the road!).
But even as I write, I doubt if we as Kenyans, Africans, Americans, Europeans, Asians and Diaspora Africans still read. How many of us can sustain a debate without being abusive? Very few. How many of us can talk sense to a woman or man? Not many. The art of dialogue and verbal persuasion is dead in us. Don’t tell me that “But I managed to round up a man or woman up with whom I share the house.” That is the point: you don’t want to call her “my wife” or him “my husband.” The reason he or she has not walked with you to some man or woman of God to tie the vows is because you lack the verbal abilities of generations before, that priorities have changed for women and men since ten years ago, just made your verbal task and marriage chances the more difficult.
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