What’s happened to Kwani??

In the past few years there have been few voices in Kenya as important as Kwani?, a literature trust committed to great writing and new voices. The Kwani LitFest, a fortnight-long series of talks, readings and performances has become a major cultural event, while the volumes of Kwani? publications are on pretty much every bookshelf in Nairobi. The collection of essays on the post-election violence, ‘After the Vote’, was one of the most haunting and compelling books I’ve read in a long, long time.

But despite its undoubted success things don’t seem to be going to plan. I hear the LitFest is unlikely to happen this summer, while publication of the second volume of Kwani? 5 appears to have been delayed. I turned to the Kwani? website for answers and this is what I found:


Hopefully someone’s forgotten to pay the bills and everything will be back up again soon, but it’s not a good sign. Binyavanga Wainaina, the writer who is one of the brains behind Kwani?, described it like this in 2003:

“We are a magazine of ideas. We seek to entertain, provoke, and create. We are open to all Kenyans, wherever they may be, who want to say something new.”

Now, more than ever, Kenya needs a magazine of ideas. Does anyone know what’s happening?


11 responses to “What’s happened to Kwani??

  1. Dipesh can give you some insights – he organised the last LitFest.

  2. stevebloomfield

    Apparently there will be a LitFest this year – just not one organised by Kwani?

  3. Kwani is having technical issues with the kwani.org host and scrambling to fix the problem – kwani.org should be back up tomorrow.

    We plan to launch 7 new titles in June, Kwani 5 Part 2, as just one of them – we will give these dates on the website by end of May – and a further 4 new titles in July/August. So maybe we’ve been quiet just hunkering down to get all these out of the way but yeah, we are alive and well …

    So watch the space!

  4. stevebloomfield

    Hey Billy, that’s great to hear

  5. Once Kwani pay for last Litfest, perhaps they can begin work on the next. Dipesh and I, who ran KLF 08 are organising a larger affair in 2010 at the coast. No more painful Kwani work for us!

    And Revisioning Kenya is 4th June, Alliance Francaise. More info on http://www.revisioningkenya.com

    • I thought it was just me! Kwani used my piece for Kwani 4 in 2007… and it took 2 years for them to inform me that they were “experiencing a cash flow problem.”

      I didn’t ask them to use my piece, and was surprised when they offered a “token payment.”

      Never got it, told them to forget about it, but what the…?

  6. Found this comment on the Concerned Kenyan Writers Group from Binyavanga Wainaina,

    “Date: Thu, 21 May 2009 10:43:29 -0700 (PDT)
    Local: Thurs, May 21 2009 8:43 pm
    Subject: Re: [Kenyan Writers:5430] Re: What happened to Kwani?
    Reply | Reply to author | Forward | Print | Individual message | Show original | Report this message | Find messages by this author

    Billy I suggest you repsond quickly on the blog where this was mentioned so yu control the story before the Dipesh’s get to it…you answering in this googlegroup means less than in the public domain where this lies.”

    I am not sure what the “Dipesh’ get to it” means but this was my response:

    “And where should we begin? Litfest 2008? Nahhh. Nairobi 24? Naaah? Generation Kenya? Naah? Martin Kimani’s project? Naah? Litfest 2007 or
    was it 06?

    Binya, how did the likes of the “Dipeshs” become “an enemy” overnight? What did I do or more like what did you do to condemn the “Dipeshs” to
    the other side of the fence…

    Personally, in situations like this, I always thought the truth and the whole truth and nothing but the truth or some shit like that has
    always been the most appropriate way forward…and this goes well beyond the likes of Dipeshs and Shalinis not getting paid…

    Give it a go Kwani! If nothing else, it’s a big sense of relief! And I am sure it would make for a good article too! After all we are “writers”… “

  7. I attended lit fest in 2006-was gd. please send me details of 2009 if there is one.

  8. Since we are all asking questions, I thought I might as well take the liberty too:

  9. Pingback: Kwani? update « Things Seen and Heard…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s