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Centre for Creative Arts

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Launch of Kwani? Magazine at the Time of the Writer

Adams selection of Kwani Billy Kahora

Yesterday evening, on the polished boards of the Wellington Deck Tavern – just adjacent to the Elizabeth Sneddon theatre, UKZN Durban Campus – incisive literary magazine Kwani? celebrated its 5th edition at the Time of The Writer Festival.

“Kwani” loosely translates as “thought” – and the question mark punctuating the Kenya-based magazine’s title strives to anticipate the unanswered issues of “unilateral politics and rebellion”. Kwani? is sustained by a literary community and network of poets, fiction and non-fiction writers, photographers and graphic artists – and this unusual twin edition focuses primarily on the raw, painful post-election violence which erupted to devastating effect in Kenya last year.

Billy Kahora Dinaw Mengistu

Editor and contributor Billy Kahora introduced the new edition by referencing an earlier photographic narrative, “Kenya Burning”, citing close parallels with South Africa’s recent blight of xenophobic attacks. He expounded on the perils of a people entirely marginalized outside the electoral drive, the ethnic and class issues inherent in the crisis and bloodletting, as well as the need to find the stories which “define and explain to ourselves”.

Kahora hoped the journal would serve as a remedy to the “collective amnesia” and flagrant censorship of the events which transpired in the wake of Kenya’s election. Reading from a short story entitled “Daring Truth” by Jeremiah Okong ‘o, Kahora intoned: “Truth does not set you free. Instead, truth sets loose. It risks what we hold dear. And there are no assurances.”


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