Naomi Mutua, a Kenyan writer loves crime and thrilling mysteries who has a few ideas in her head to start any literary work
She thinks that publishing in Kenya is expensive and is that her reading culture has really declined. More people are willing to purchase a novel by a foreign author worth on the street vendors than walk into a bookstore
Naomi Mutua was born in Nairobi, Kenya. She has always lived in Kenya, and she loves the country and the people. She’s a social media manager for an advertising and media agency, and she enjoys her work. She studied at Loreto College, Msongari. She also is a passionate advocate for the environment, trees and animals, and she loves traveling. When she’s bored or has some spare time, she bakes cupcakes and reads books.
By: Alberto Berenguer Twitter: tukoberenguer
When did you start writing? Do does it come from family?
I remember writing essays in English that were about 8 pages long once, while in school, and from then on, my English teacher asked me not to write more than 4 pages! I always loved words. Being in boarding school since I was 9 years old, I would often write to my sister and parents, and they were lengthy letters describing my stay in school. That’s when my passion for writing and for English kicked in. However, I don’t take it too seriously – I write it to express myself, and to get thoughts out of my head.
On your way to write, do you have any style when you write?
I write whatever comes to my head really. Often when I am almost close to a deadline, I will produce my best pieces. Other times, a conversation will trigger thought and I’ll rush and write before the idea disappears from my thoughts. I think I should be more disciplined about it but I’m not.
Your website is called http://akenyangirl.com/, how did arise the idea? What did you reason to create a website?
It comes from my twitter handle, @AKenyanGirl. One of my sisters is “@TheRancherGirl” and that inspired me. When I found out that “KenyanGirl” was taken on Twitter, I simply added ‘a’ to the beginning. It then dawned on me that I could use it to identify myself as a Kenyan, and to promote good things about the country and the people. So I try to be more positive and to showcase the good about Kenya.
What can people found in your website?
My website was for a long time a conglomeration of my thoughts. Lately, I have zoned down to Food, Travel, Music and a few articles under ‘Dizzybee’ which addresses challenges and thoughts as a woman.
You are the user of Facebook and Twitter. What role does your life social networks? Are there many followers in your country?
Yes, I am an avid social media user, and it is what took me to my current job. I enjoy interacting with people from across the country and the world. Social Media has become a big voice for the citizens, and has got leaders to listen to us. However, given the actual mobile penetration, I would say less than 10% of the population (4 million) is on the internet, and out of that, maybe 70% on Social media. That would make about only 2.5 million of Kenyans. A very little number, but highly concentrated in the urban cities of Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa and other towns.
Casa Africa is an instrument of foreign policy of Spain and it aims to promote mutual understanding between Africa and Spain. Did you know this initiative of our country? Does it come about in your city activities of this kind to know the Spanish culture?
No, I have not heard of Casa Africa until now, and I haven’t seen any activities promoting Spanish Culture happening. Maybe it is because we are generally a Swahili and English speaking country? I’m sure we would love to have them here!
The In-Between World of Vikram Lall of M.G. Vassanji is about the time of the independence of Kenya, in the middle of 60, and the ethnic conflicts in those years. Is this theme in the books of writers of Kenya usual?
For the early Kenyan writers, speaking against the regime was unheard of… it often landed you in jail, or exile like authors such as Ngugi wa Thiong’o. However, now more writers are willing to speak about these issues as well as other social subjects. However, we still don’t have many published authors that tackle these issues.
For young novelists of the Kenya, it is difficult to find a Publisher support?
I think that publishing in Kenya is expensive, but even worse, is that our reading culture has really declined. More people are willing to purchase a novel by a foreign author worth Kes. 200/- (about $2.5) on the street vendors than walk into a bookstore and spend Kes. 2,000/- and more (about $25) on a new publication by a Kenyan. I feel we still have a long, long way to go as Kenyan writers, since we don’t have the content that sells fast – the thrillers, the romance novels, the crime and legal mysteries.
With difference to other African countries, do you think that many books are read in the Kenya?
Well, I hope so, since I believe that our country has a more formally educated population as compared to Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Sudan or Somalia. Also given that most speak Swahili or English, I would be led to believe that we read more. But as I said before, we have become a less reading society to a more televised and digital country.
Have you thought at some time writing a book?
Yes. I have a few ideas in my head, but I have not started any work on them.
We talk about the literature that you like now. If you had to choose some literary genre, what would it be?
I love fiction – especially crime and thrilling mysteries. I love trying to solve them from the onset, and I often find it difficult to put them down once I start. Overall, I read almost anything, as long as the story is well told!
Do you also have any favorite author?
Oh, that is trying to tell me to choose a favorite child! I love Dan Brown, John Patterson, John Grisham, Stephen King and more for their mysteries. I love Wangari Maathai’s Unbowed – a great insight into her character, rest her soul. Ralph Helfer – he’s part of my extended family, but he loves animals and I do too, his books have great tales and adventures with a menagerie of Hollywood’s animal stars, as well as Daphne Sheldrick’s “Love, Life and Elephants”. The one book that I wouldn’t part with right now? An autographed copy of Jung Chang’s “Wild Swans”.
As you can see, I have no favorite author, I have many!
What book of Kenyan writers would you recommend to followers of De lectura Obligada?
Hmm. Daphne Sheldrick’s “Love, Life and Elephants” springs to mind immediately since I am reading it now. Wangari Maathai’s “Unbowed” is a must read and Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s “The River Between” is a classic.
Thank you for the interview! Hope we can get the Spanish culture and the Kenyan culture to mingle more!