Picture a 17yr old boy living with his grandfather in Majengo slums in Kitui. Now picture this boy shuffling to a dark hot and seedy cyber in a corner of this hovel to write me an email a few days after he’s suspended from school. He says he’s spending his “food money” in the cyber to write that email.
He starts by saying that he’s “literally” my biggest fan, but on the second sentence he changes his mind and says that he doesn’t think “I’m all that,” and he isn’t writing to shower me with praises, a privilege he will hold back until I write a book because apparently that’s the true mark of a prolific writer.
I read this email in Nairobi at 2am, in the dead of the night, my sleep long displaced. The boy continues to say that since he was suspended from school everyone has been telling him he’s a “fuck up and will always be a fuck up in life.” (Strong language for a teenager). But he isn’t paying attention to those naysayers, he assures me. He wants to do something with his life. He says he’s always been “good with the pen,” the best in his class, so good he would charge other students to write love letters for them. Here is this piece I wrote, he writes to me, would you please have a look at it and tell me what you think?
He writes, “I know you write for many publications, and you are busy, but come on, you were 17 once, weren’t you? Plus aren’t you the same people always complaining about the book intolerance ...... Read the entire article