When East African literature giants descended on Machakos

I used to be deeply touched and moved by your heat responses to and feedback on my narrative of how I transitioned from a refugee to the present “Kenyaphiliac” elder with houses from Kisumu to Kilifi.

Machakos, as you famous, performed, and nonetheless performs, a central function within the saga. So, you may think about my delight at being reminded, by Richard Arden, of a singular journey we had on the market in late 1977.

Richard Arden is a really long-time buddy of mine, whom I preserve teasing as a person with the identify of a forest. He was educating on the Machakos Boys Excessive Faculty after I obtained to Machakos Women.

It was a nice shock discovering him there, as we had been postgraduate college students collectively at Makerere within the early Nineteen Seventies. I used to be doing my MA and he was doing his Postgraduate Diploma in Schooling underneath the TEA (Academics for East Africa) Programme.

The “TEA” was a British technical help mission the place younger graduates from British universities got here and took their Schooling Diplomas at Makerere.

They then taught at excessive colleges in East Africa for some years. It was a sensible measure of remedying the scarcity of native graduate academics in our nations.

A lot of these younger Brits served with distinction, and a few of us could bear in mind being taught by them.

A major aspect impact of the TEA programme, nevertheless, was that a few of these younger British women and men, being uncovered to East Africa of their very impressionable years, fell irredeemably in love with the land.

In spite of everything, they studied with us, sharing our residential halls at Makerere and academics’ quarters on the colleges the place they taught.

Richard Arden, my Machakos colleague, was a type of deeply bitten by the “TEA” bug. He first got here to my discover after we had been celebrating Makerere’s Diamond Jubilee in 1972.

An ardent lover of theatre, he portrayed Professor Coarx, the hypocritical and randy expatriate, on this planet premiere of the late John Ruganda’s play, Black Mamba, which we offered as a part of the celebrations.

After a short educating stint at Gayaza Excessive Faculty, Uganda’s oldest and most prestigious women’ faculty, he relocated to Kenya, and the remainder, as they are saying, is historical past.

After Machakos Boys, there was Kagumo Academics Faculty, co-authorship with Kenyan colleagues of the Built-in English Course and work with the British Council in Nairobi (and a pair of educating booklets with me).

Other than just a few sallies Richard has made out on research and a few consultancies, he has remained grounded in Kenya.

Relating to the occasion of which Richard jogged my memory, it was the “Machakos Literary Train-In Sponsored by Musau Hides and Skins”, because the banner welcoming contributors to a singular occasion at Machakos Boys Excessive Faculty had it.

We had realised the significance of creating our college students conscious of the wealthy East African literary custom that was steadily taking on the previous ‘O’ and ‘A’ Degree sort of the Literature in English curriculum.

Ever the resourceful innovator, Richard Arden, who was a trainer of English at Machakos Boys, had determined to organise a mini-festival to reveal his Kenya Superior Certificates of Schooling college students to the wealthy array of East African literary giants then residing in Kenya, and in addition the world of publishing.

Collectively we organised what was to be an incredible publicity to the problems round set books, authors and publishing. Much more encouraging was to get a neighborhood Machakos enterprise to sponsor the prices of the entire occasion.

College students from my Machakos Women and different close by secondary colleges started arriving early for the teach-in. We spent the morning with a panel of writers and publishers difficult one another on the alternatives and obstacles for authors.

Amongst the glittering array of well-known authors and publishers current that morning in Ukambani had been Ngugi wa Thiong’o, John Ruganda, Micere Mugo, Okot p.Bitek and David Rubadiri.

My identify was being murmured on the fringes of the meet, however I used to be glad to be only a trainer to my women. The publishers included Jonathan Kariara, then of OUP, and Henry Chakava, then of Heinemann. College students had been thrilled to have the ability to ask questions of their literary heroes and see them in motion, elevating points and arguing over the rights and wrongs of copyright and royalties.

The second a part of the day was notably thrilling for the girls and boys. Every of the well-known authors agreed to debate with the scholars the set literature texts for the then-KACE examinations : A Grain of Wheat, God’s Bits of Wooden by Sembene Ousmane, A Wreath for Udomo by Peter Abrahams, The Plague by Albert Camus.

Ngugi refused to speak about his personal e-book, concentrating as an alternative on Ousmane’s novel translated from the French.

The thrilling finale got here with Okot p’Bitek enacting a tour de power on the right way to current and educate Oral Literature. He was in his factor and he danced, he sang, he spouted poetry.

He was on hearth. The scholars had by no means seen such literary vitality of their lives! In some ways, it was the climax of the day.

Then the Travelling Theatre arrived, to placed on a efficiency of one other set textual content , Betrayal within the Metropolis by Francis Imbuga, one other unbelievable alternative for the scholars to essentially perceive the important thing points within the play, and admire the skills of the college actors. Kivutha Kibwana and Nazi, his eventual companion, had been among the many scholar actors from UoN.

We didn’t discuss “competency-based curricula” in these days. However our Machakos teach-in was a step in that path.

By the way, after the teach-in, most of the giants, together with David Rubadiri, John Ruganda and Okot p’Bitek, assembled at my rambling bungalow on the Machakos Women Faculty, and we talked by way of many of the night time.

Richard Arden now lives in Kenya, and I’m certain he would love to listen to of any plans for such related occasions to be held in colleges throughout the nation.

I might additionally love to listen to from Musau Hides and Skins.

Prof Bukenya is a number one East African scholar of English and literature. [email protected]

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