The Nairobi Dispatches (3 – The Shidas Strike)



The Storymoja Festival is noteworthy for its focus on children. It is likely that in a few decades, a new generation of Kenyans will look back to a formative encounter in a festival – perhaps with the crew of The Attack of the Shidas (which, it must be confessed, were not a lunch-guzzling band of terrorists)… more like a scifi panto crew mixing nationalistic messages for the enthusiastic consumption of the young at heart.

Duduzile Mabaso, the South African publisher, poet, blogger and artsbody has had ample time to think about children as well. She was a panelist on a discussion on African Literature Rising, which I chaired, and her ‘One Book Which Every African Must Read For Maximum Transformational effect was The Palmwine Drinkard, by Amos Tutuola. Her rationale was pretty interesting too:  The fantasy world that Tutuola created underlined the pointlessness of the demarcation between arts education and science education. She argued that our scientists will do with a little more creativity, and our artists a little more scientific rigour…

Her compatriot, Vuyelwa Maluleke is a young spoken word artist on her way to the written word while, Joanne Ball-Burgess fellow victim of my cartoon, also spreads her talents from the page to performance.