Passionate teacher gains ground on writing dream

Stephen Ouma Otieno, a high school teacher who has authored several books and a play titled ‘Rotten Apples’. [Isaiah Gwengi, Standard]

When American author Stephen King averred “if you want to be a writer, you must read and write a lot”, he perhaps had Ouma Otieno in mind.

Mr Otieno has been a high school Geography and Religious Studies teacher for the last 14 years, a job that also involves mentoring students to be positive thinkers.

An alumnus of Kenyatta University, Mr Otieno is proof of the adage ‘nothing is as important as passion’. 

Mr Otieno, who currently teaches at Ng’iya Girls High School, graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor of Education (Arts) degree. 

He opines that writing is all about being an avid reader and having the urge to tell a story.

“I loved reading from childhood. I gained a lot of knowledge and embraced diverse worldviews that switched into an unrelenting urge to be a writer,” he tells The Standard

Mr Otieno recently authored ‘Rotten Apples’, a play that artistically exposes the raw doings and misdoings of academia and the Fourth Estate (media).

The storyline unfolds in a Nigerian setting where battle lines are clearly drawn between who is a better writer and who has the wherewithal to publish their work.

The Siaya sub-county 2019 Teacher of the Year Award (TOYA) winner has also authored ‘Hook, Line and Sinker’ – a book on transformational leadership, Masterpiece CRE books (Forms 1-4) and the Practical Geography Manual.

“I am currently penning two more plays that are likely to be off to the press by end of the year,” he says.

“Completing a single book depends on the scope and range of the story. Sometimes I experience writer’s block and this may delay birthing a book,” he adds.

Mr Otieno says upcoming scribes give up on their dreams due to challenges they encounter in writing.

“Despite the challenges, passion to tell a good story should keep every writer going,” he advises.

His long-term plan is to establish a literary residency to help upcoming and established writers who want to focus on full-time writing.

“I am currently doing a residency in my village and it will go a long way to help writers,” he says, adding that counties should invest in residencies so as to promote a robust reading and writing culture.