“Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity,” says author Chimamanda Adichie.
The publication of the stories of more than 200 Kenyan women who have overcome patriarchal obstacles to make life-changing impact is one move to celebrate and inspire.
The 450-page Pioneers & Transformers: The Journeys of TopAchieving Women in Kenya by the Kenya Yearbook Editorial Board in partnership with the Ministry of Gender and Youth Services was launched on Wednesday.
And in what appears to echo Adichie’s sentiments, the bookeditor, Ms Enid Mukiri, writes in her note, “Given that humanity still holds a predominantly patriarchal worldview, women’sexemplary triumphs and contributions to a country, society or industry must be recognised, celebrated and encouraged.”
The authors and composers of different arts whose names have reverberated across generations received colourful attention alongside other great women.
Margaret Ogola who authored the all-time novel The River and The Source has been posthumously celebrated for her advocacy for liberation of women in her literary text.
The new book says Ogola “left behind a legacy of hope through her compassion-based work to empower women and children”. Literary revolutionary force, Muthoni Garland, has also been celebrated for boosting the reading culture in Kenya, especially among children through the programme ‘National Read Aloud’ events. She is a writer for adults and children who has published many works that have been published in literary journals such as Kwani, Farafina and Chimurenga. She founded the writer’s collective, ‘Storymoja’.
Barbara Kimenye, popular for her Moses series stories set in Uganda, was not left out too.
In the field of medicine, Betty Gikonyo, who was the first Kenyan doctor to perform open heart surgery has been featured.
The category with the smallest number of women achievers is aviation, where Florence Wilson and Koki Mutungi have been celebrated.