Book Review: Recent Reads

In the recent past, I’ve hardly blogged and read any books but in the traffic to and from work, in the waiting rooms and in the evenings after supper, while waiting for friends at bus stops and restaurants, I’ve managed to read two books: The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell and Blue Mother Tongue by Ngwatilo. Two very different books.


The Tipping Point



While I generally don’t read books without story lines (I prefer fiction), I found The Tipping Point a fascinating read. It attempts, convincingly, to explain (social) epidemics and why/how they tip. The point at which something quite widespread becomes an epidemic and everyone is doing it. If you are a marketer, you might want to read it to find out why some products are a hit in the market while others are not.

The examples he examines and describes in the book include the fall of crime in New York in the early 90’s, the long-time show Sesame Street, the curious case of suicides in Micronesia, and how it could relate to the fight against cigarette smoking. If these are not enough to raise your curiosity, then you can still read the book for the three important factors that are of importance for epidemics: The Law of the Few (the particular set of socially gifted people who ‘sell’ the ideas to the rest of the population), The Stickiness Factor and The Power of Context.

He gives some fascinating examples and case studies that should be interesting to read even if you are not into marketing. It’s an entertaining read and I’d recommend it to anyone, even if it’s written more for the American audience if you ask me.


Blue Mothertongue by Ngwatilo

I have to thank Wamathai for this lovely poetry book.

Cover of Blue Mothertongue by Ngwatilo

Cover of Blue Mothertongue by Ngwatilo. Image from

This is a contemporary poetry book. It’s not bogged down by the rules of poetry and meaningless vocabulary for the rhyme factor. It’s poems that tell of life in Nairobi, growing up in happy neighbourhoods and living abroad in recent times. Will your children know your mothertongue? They are poems that stem from the author’s experiences in life and I enjoyed them very much. I have reread some of the poems from time to time, and there are some that you have to read at least twice to truly get the message. It’s not a book that you hurry to finish, rather one that you savor every poem as you sit in the bus home after work, surrounded by tired faces anxious to get home.

Text Book Centre, Bookstop, Bookpoint, Prestige Booksellers – all in Nairobi, and at Moi University Bookshop, Eldoret.

Read about Ngwatilo here.

P.S. I didn’t have blue mothertongue with me at the time I was writing this review so will edit it to add quotes of my favorite poems.


Below is a poem I like, Spring in Nairobi

Spring in Nairobi

is Jacaranda trees in bloom
is blissful blue, bold, edging
toward lavender gladness

When rain pours or commands
the winds to boast that it can, the flowers
fall in a flurry of whispers, which caress
like sudden sunlight, like the warm touch

left by your fleeting love. It is not tragic,
the romp we make on Kenyatta Ave,
it is at once delicate and joyful. We hope
the ritual will make us blissful
while blue, free, decidedly bold even

Wamathai July This Coming Saturday 14th

Wamathai Spoken Word July, a poetry, music and photography showcase, is on July 14th at The Michael Joseph Centre at Safaricom Headquarters, Waiyaki Way from 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM.

The event will be hosted by Sam Buggz and Stella Nasambu.

There will be Poetry Performances by: El Poet, Jemedari, Mwende Ngao, Kenyan Poet, Raya Wambui, Kevin Man Njoro,Achieng Odhiambo, Samo Bryton, Kavosa, Hosea Munyoro, Dwanzi, Si Ni Sisi.

Music by: Demspey and the Boys, Ndila & Moraa Onsando

Photography exhibition by: Koa

This is the perfect Saturday evening plan! See you there!

A past Wamathai event at the Michael Joseph Center.

Charges: Kshs. 300 in advance & Kshs. 400 at the gate

Buy advance tickets by sending cash via MPESA to 0704 090471 [a confirmation message will be sent to you with a ticket number once payment is received] or at the Michael Joseph Centre Reception.

Contact info: Email: , Call: 0704 090471

Wamathai Spoken Word March-2012

Ever since Wamathai launched his spoken word event last in 2010, I have tried to attend all of them. The theme still retains poetry, but has diversified to include photography, and music by performing artists in Kenya. I look forward to this next one… if you are wondering, yes, I do love listening to poetry. That’s why I also attend Kwani?’s open Mics on the first Tuesday of every month at Club Soundd. Who’s coming there tomorrow?

Kwani? Open Mic

“Established in 2003, Kwani Trust is a Kenyan based literary network dedicated to developing quality creative writing and committed to the growth of the creative industry through the publishing and distribution of contemporary African writing, offering training opportunities, producing literary events and establishing and maintaining global literary networks. Our vision is to create a society that uses its stories to see itself more coherently.”

Any creative writer/wannbe writer/poet/actress should know about Kwani?. Also Storymoja but that’s a story for another day. If you’ve ever dreamed of having your work published, these are among the local publishing houses that you should get in touch with. Kwani? is a non-profit making organization, as I understand it. I haven’t written any stories of late, but I dream of writing that award-winning novel someday.

On the first Tuesday of every month, Kwani? holds an Open Mic session at Club Soundd in town. From 7pm to around 10pm. It’s a platform for emerging poets to showcase talent. The seasoned poets come too, so it’s chance to interact and learn from there. There are books Kwani? has published that are available for sale.. they go for anything from Kshs. 200- Kshs. 2 000.

This past Tuesday, after my first MSc exam, I made my way to Club Soundd. I was meeting my friend from back in undergraduate. I must admit it’s hard to catch up with stories from our lives over the music that marked the interval between one poet and the next.

The host was one lovely lady whose name I didn’t get.. and performance by poets was alright. From first timers to oldies, you had to listen to their words. Sometimes you forget the beauty that is poetry and these people remind you of that! The poets that performed included Sitawa Wafula, TheBogof, KennetB and Smitta Smitten (or Tony Mochama as he was going by that night).

It was the first time I was seeing Smitta perform so I didn’t know his style.. bold language right there( I remember this line in particular “.. going to Java to drink coffee made from the testicles of child molesters).

Looking forward to next month… hope I’ll see a budding poet perform after reading this?

Pictures from the event are full of darkness! The IDEOS has one of the worst cameras I know, the lighting was club-like (it’s a club after all) and no flash!

Two actors (they do theater) on stage during a performance. I think it had something to do with gender wars.


Found this poem in my cousin’s computer and thought I’d share it. Author unknown, unless he/she comes forward to claim it.

I have been told the author is a 15 year old whose name I didn’t get. It was first published in Buzz. Talent right there.

I am that breath
That just won’t go through your nostrils
I am that last sight before blindness creeps in
I am that lover who introduced you to hate

I am that piece of vegetable
That sticks in your teeth
I am that breeze
That turns into a chill
I am that extra air through your windpipe that gets you to choke
I am that extra fat that clogs your artery

I am that extra line
That destroys a compliment
I am that dream
That you let turn into a regret
I am that “one last beer”
That causes you to crash
I am that “one last dip”
That brings you AIDS

I am that poop
That stinks up the whole house
I am that drop of rain
When you are walking out of the salon
I am that gush of wind
That sends your sunny dress flying
I am that step you miss before going down

I am that fly
That won’t zip up in public
I am that technical hitch
During a live braodcast
I am the writers block
When you are filing a story
I am the loose button
That pops when you sneeze

Yes,I am the dream away from becoming your nightmare

I Love Kenyans

This ramble was inspired recently as I waited for the matatu to fill up one afternoon.

I love the guy that passes by, wearily dragging his cart but with a look of determination;

I love the teenagers leaving against the wall, two boys full of swagger probably waiting for their friend;

I love the woman who passes by, she looks like she could do with some fashion tips;

I love the young lady that struts after her, heels clacking on the pavement and white underwear showing;

I love the conductor with his self confidence and sexual appeal as he tries to persuade the pretty girls to board his matatu;

I love the man in official clothes who looks like he’s headed for a lunch meeting;

I love the Indian Kenyan guy who settles in beside me, his sleeves folded to reveal hairy arms and his eyes glued to his phone;

I love the couple in front of me, they’re whispering into each other’s ears and look like they need a room;

I love the girl that has just come into the matatu, weave on her head swinging from side to side;

I love the driver with his toothpick, he has just switched on the engine.

I love Kenyans, that’s all I meant to say.

Wamathai April: Poetry Event presents Wamathai Spoken Word – April Edition [#WamathaiApril] on 2nd April 2011 at Secrets Lounge, View Park Towers (Opp Alliance Francaise) on Utalii Lane from 7 PM – 10 PM.

Hosted by Dela & Daddie Marto.

Performances by Man Njoro, Pepe Haze, Gloria, Kennet B, Jemedari, Kuni Mbichi, Fuse, Achieng Odhiambo, El Poet, Namatsi, Wanjiku Mwaurah, Murathe, Teardrops, Claude Baus and many more..

Music by Lucas & Grandmaster Masese

Charges: Kshs. 150 [at the entrance]


I found this poem somewhere in my documents, how/why it got there, I don’t know. It’s short but I like it.

I like to imagine you’re mine.
Head back,
eyes closed,
speaking a secret language.
I fixate on your perfect lips
and full moon eyes:
the places your thoughts hide.
I imagine your words,
your voice,
your skin.
Then startle at the fluttering of shadows,
forget to breathe.
But it’s not you;
it’s just the hungry branches of trees.

– Author unknown –