Reading David Maillu II

Against the formal pleasure of reading Maillu’s verse narrative—a counterpoint to P’Bitek’s Song of Lawino—or alongside that pleasure, also the difficulty of reading what some critics dismiss as his vulgarity, and what I would term his banal misogyny. My Dear Bottle moves from male entitlement, Dear bottle, this is shame I don’t want my wife... Continue Reading →

Jela si Pahala

We make concealment happen; it is not natural but rather names and organizes where racial-sexual differention happens. —Katherine McKittrick, Demonic Grounds How do we think the possibility and the law of outlawed, impossible things? —Fred Moten, “The Case of Blackness” I have been watching and re-watching KTN’s special report on sex in Kenyan prisons, especially... Continue Reading →


Wanjiku is sovereign. She has rights to services. She has the right to access justice. She has the right to condemn those who abuse and steal from her. She is no longer a dummy. She is a leader as Mama Mboga, farmer, teacher, painter, executive, mother, scientist, preacher, doctor, computer specialist, etc. She must be... Continue Reading →

Dear Kenya:

Somehow, two men accused of crimes against humanity, have been nominated to run for president and vice president in next year’s general election. I say “somehow” because it happened while we were awake, while we were watching, and even with our approval. These men declared themselves African patriots and identified the ICC as an imperialist... Continue Reading →

Karibu Kenya?

In reviving the traditional meaning of an expression and in restoring a memorable heritage to its former dignity, we have been eager to propose simultaneously, beyond the old word, an original concept of hospitality, of the duty (devoir) of hospitality, and of the right (droit) to hospitality. What then would such a concept be? How... Continue Reading →

Reading David Maillu I

If you are to ask me what are the greatest issues in Africa, I would say it is that people love, people fuck, people kiss, people speak. —Binyavanga Wainaina David Maillu’s writing from the mid-1970s incarnates pornography within the Kenyan imagination. Even today, Maillu’s early works—No!, After 4:30, My Dear Bottle, Unfit for Human Consumption,... Continue Reading →

Writing the Kenyan Diaspora

The latest, forthcoming issue of Kwani? focuses on diaspora. Billy Kahora’s editorial outlines the imaginaries and materialities of the term diaspora in Kenya, tracking its changing meanings and sites: as military service, as education, as globalized labor, as respite, as success, as failure. Conceding the difficulty of capturing all these facets, he writes that diaspora... Continue Reading →

Something Else Not Violence

Eastleigh (1977-1990) Until his death in 1990, my father was an obstetrician-gynecologist with a practice in Pangani-Eastleigh. As I understood and continue to understand his work, he brought children into the world through a complex magic that ensured mothers and their children survived and thrived. Many, if not most, of his patients were Somali. When... Continue Reading →

Internally Displaced Kenyans

[F]rom the perspective of the bracketed, the problem is how to endure the material conditions that compose their limbo. —Elizabeth Povinelli, Economies of Abandonment To go back was harder and to go further was hardest, so at last we made up our mind and started to go forward. —Amos Tutuola, Palm-Wine Drinkard In early October... Continue Reading →

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