Kwani? Trust recently concluded a one week writers workshop in Mombasa. The workshop was part of Kwani?’s wider plan to collect essays, fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry and photography based on the Coast Region.
Most importantly, after the workshop, the writers will help explore what new narratives can emerge from the ‘Coast’ from a social and political standpoint.
The Coast based writers were privileged to work with experienced trainers and authors for an intense one week workshop. During this workshop, they learned aspects of a writer’s craft and developing style.
Kadara Harith, A lecturer at Pwani University covered Politics and Religion on the Kenya Coast. Other tutors included Caine Prize for African Writing, 2003 winner: Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor and Kwani?’s managing editor Billy Kahora.
According to participants, the benefits of the workshop are immense. The brief history on Mombasa and coast is important especially when telling stories from the Coast.
For those who attended, the workshop may perhaps be the best thing to ever go down, involving writers in Mombasa.
For a while, it seemed as if creative writing in Mombasa had taken a backseat, especially considering that writers in Nairobi and other places like Nakuru have been getting the biggest share of the ‘writers cake’- think Storymoja Hay festivals and Kwani? litfest.
Abdulrahman Ndegwa, who writes as Akhy Mjanja is one of the writers who took many lessons from the Kwani? workshop.
“I have learned a lot on writing, especially of description and building a character. These two are very crucial in writing a story and it was something that was not in my writing journey. Having activities at the workshop that help in building a character was very helpful because it gave me a practical way to view the process.”
According to Jamila El Jabry, a Mombasa based blogger who writes on LifeinMombasa.com, she found immediate use for lessons from the workshop.
“I was in the process of writing a story and I was stuck at a point, but the workshop has given me insights on how to move forward with my story. The workshop will help in how we tell our stories; Coast writers will have a voice in creative writing. The stories will move from verbal to written.”
After an entire week of learning from the best- Billy Kahora and Yvonne, the writers walked out of the workshop with a keener, more alert perspective of what writing is all about. Lessons about about voice and characters, dialogue and description as building a character’s life remain etched in the writers minds.
In closing, Abdulrahman Ndegwa was thankful for the mentor-ship he received during the workshop.
“I was mentored by Billy Kahora and perhaps the biggest impression that stuck with me is his passion to tell a story that touches on people’s lives. Ever since that mentoring session, I write more keenly with my target audience in mind. I pay more intention to where I want the reader to go with my story!”