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I agree with Mochama, let's review our school curriculum entirely

By Kibet Festus Kantogo | September 12th 2015

NAIROBI: I must admit that I had lost hope in this country’s and Africa’s readers’ adoption and absorption of works from young and progressive African writers. But after reading Tony Mochama’s well analysed piece in The Standard on Saturday titled 'Ngugi made his mark, but it’s time to restock literature shelves', I can confirm to you that I feel more rejuvenated than ever.

Seeing the way we, as post ‘90’s writers, struggle to penetrate the field dominated by post colonial themes, makes us sick and we often find ourselves dumping our papers and donating our pens.

However, in an attempt to not to feel left out and most importantly for the love of literature, we start ‘debates’ (that never conclude) on who and who is the king of African literature. Notably, these ‘debates’ always pitted Achebe against Ngugi – and sometimes Soyinka. Nothing and no one else after them.

In the article, Mochama confirmed what I had for a long time been wanting to shout out as I felt the agony that young writers go through in their attempts to be accepted and ‘integrated’ into the Africa today literary world. This, sadly, is caused by our very own over celebration of the literature of the days? in the processes locking out more up-to-date works that would keep African literature dynamic and ensure its progress through the coming ages.

I had overtime been asking myself how come Kenyans can spend a huge chunk of their time online and yet they are by fact so reluctant and evidently ill informed when you ask them about current Kenyan fiction. But try asking them about what is trending on twitter, which video is doing rounds on Whatssup or which celeb is dating who on instagram and you will discover how naïve and backward you’re.

The answer is that the society is changing rapidly but our curriculum is stagnated with ‘aged’ thinkers – charged with the onus of determining which books and what themes are supposed to be studied by our students.

To me that’s where the rain starts beating our backs ‘cause we all know what these fellows have been giving us, don’t we?

The result? We end up feeding our children with scenes characterised by grass thatched houses, yet we strive so hard as a nation to eradicate the same? we give them the chauvinist Okonkwo, yet we out there push for equality and shout at the top of our voices for affirmative action? give them philanderer characters of Chief Nanga, yet we always force the “TumeChill” slogan into their bloodstreams!

The solution is simple though. Let’s review our school curriculum.

After all, all what our bookstores need are reader synchronised works – not those that tell you of children being told ogre stories when you live in a world where children are being bought animated movies!

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