Author says autobiographies hide dark side of individuals

Author and journalist Peter Kimani addresses participants during free workshops at Macondo Literary Festival in Kenya National Theatre, Nairobi, yesterday. [Edward Kiplimo,Standard]
The long awaited Macondo Literary Festival kicked off yesterday with calls for more stories about Africa by African authors.

The three-day event at the Kenya National Theatre in Nairobi opened with free workshops before the grand opening in the evening with literature and film enthusiasts attending.

The first workshop on “Writing History” was steered by author Peter Kimani who led the call for more stories by local authors detailing experiences on the continent.

Dr Kimani, who also lectures at Aga Khan University Graduate School of Media and Communications, said there were many historical experiences writers can narrate and inspire upcoming artists to identify gaps and weave tales on the same.

“Writing is an art of coding history. A lot remains untold in terms of history,” he said.

The author told participants that writing requires in-depth research, patience and honesty while delivering facts and engaging in creative non-fiction. “Be faithful to facts. Conduct research on historical experience that you want to base your stories on to create believable stories,” he said.

Kimani urged writers to focus on giving factual information even as he criticised biographies and autobiographies about Kenyans saying many concealed the dark side of the individuals.

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Calls to be innovative in how we tell stories in autobiographies were echoed in other workshops including “Translating History” by writer and translator Jethro Soutar, “Filming History” by film maker Joao Viana and “History for Radio” by journalist Michael Schweres as they engaged their audiences.

Events lined up include book launches, panel discussions, meet-the-author events, storytelling, improvisation performances, exhibitions, film, music and dances.

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Macondo Literary FestivalKenya National Theatre