The Standard Group Plc is a multi-media organization with investments in media platforms spanning newspaper print operations, television, radio broadcasting, digital and online services. The Standard Group is recognized as a leading multi-media house in Kenya with a key influence in matters of national and international interest.
  • Standard Group Plc HQ Office,
  • The Standard Group Center,Mombasa Road.
  • P.O Box 30080-00100,Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Telephone number: 0203222111, 0719012111
  • Email: [email protected]

Budding tutor whose writing prowess has melted hearts

Arts Lounge

SALESIO GITONGA NJERU is a prolific writer, credited for the best-selling novel Betrayal of a Nun and other books. He tells SILAS NYAMWEYA how he juggles writing, motivational speaking, life coach and high school teacher.

How would you describe yourself?

I would describe myself as a go-getter, always striving to better myself every waking day. A quintessential village boy who came of age in a rural setting from a humble background devoid of the Disneyland flicks, bread and butter as breakfast. Nevertheless, it never limited me from stepping out to conquer every available opportunity in the world of academia and writing. I believe in the dignity of honest work, a sense of perspective and God's divine providence.

Briefly tell us about your writing journey

I began writing while in primary school with my creative juices being paraded every time the English and Kiswahili teachers read the best writing kryptonites.

With a keen urgency to make a turnaround in creative writing, I joined high school and a fervent display of creativity emerged within my pen causing an implosion when I joined Kenyatta University.

 Salesio Njeru with John Kiriamiti and Njeru holding his first novel, Betrayal of a Nun.[ Silas Nyamweya]

I wrote The Sarah Cohen letters which went around social media for some days and got published by Ghana.mma.com, Kenya Today and Global News Canada. This catapulted me to a wide acclaim that birthed a portrait of resilience in me.

My debut novel, Betrayal of a Nun published in 2019, has remained a classic best seller globe-trotting several countries with copies available in the US and Kenya. Many of my stories especially on social media saw journalists like Roy Hezron interviewing me with publications appearing in The Daily Nation, Education News Newspaper, Mt Kenya Times, Radio and Television. I trust that the dexterity of the pen will lead me to my destiny.

What are some of your most popular books?

Betrayal of a Nun is a book that transcends the historical milieu with its most potent theme of sexual immorality taking a central place in the hearts of readers. The main character Butcher Maria, a modern-day diva takes a thrill-seeking adventure into the Americas defying all African traditions, living off the highway road of debauchery only to return to a former shadow of herself. Perhaps, it is because of this character's untamed personality among Generation Z that many are able to resonate with making the book very popular.

How do you juggle writing, teaching, motivational speaking and being a life coach?

Priority and meticulous planning. While in school, I ensure that I follow all the requisite requirements of teaching without letting all the above create a conflict of interest. Motivation speaking happens in case I get invitations to churches, schools and forums when duty calls.

Authorship is a full-time job since consistency makes impossible things possible. Life coaching intertwines with my area of life since teaching itself calls for one to be a life coach. Surprisingly, all the above complement each other.

What makes writing so fascinating for you?

Writing is therapeutic. It nourishes the soul. It is a balm to the soul. I feel self-fulfilled when I enter rooms and people point fingers at me as a writing maven with a knack for writing oeuvres that edify them. The mere realisation that writing opens a window of enlightenment to a million readers makes my heart palpitate with joy.

Would you leave other careers for writing?

Yes, I can. However, teaching is my launching pad as I wait to see how the future of my writing pans out. See, one must be a personification of balls of steel to leave other careers for full-time writing, especially in the murky world of writing where in Kenya, one can hide gold in a book since a greater population is chasing dreams, trying to keep the wolf away from the door and other excuses.

Therefore I will have to survey the situation and read the mood and flow of my books before venturing into writing as my only career.

Who are some notable authors you admire?

Chinua Achebe is a spectacle to watch albeit posthumous. He captured the four literature phases with admirable aplomb. Precolonial phase, colonial phase; Things Fall Apart, Postcolonial phase; A Man of The People as well as several essays touching on neo-colonial phase. I found him extremely talented.

A polymath that one. Others include our very own Ngugi wa Thiong'o who chronicled the exploitation of the masses by the powers that be in Petals of Blood as well as his moving essays.

In Europe, I have admired the likes of Robert Goddard, Ben Freeman and Tami Hoag, author of Dark Sins among other notable writers like Faubert to mention a few. I have had physical interaction with John Kiriamiti, author of My Life in Crime, Son of Fate who wrote the Foreword of my Novel, the likes of Kithaka wa Mberia albeit virtual interactions, Dr Waveney Olembo, Dr Justus Kizito Siboe Makokha my lecturers among others.

What do you think ails the Kenyan writing industry, and how can this be rectified?

Publishing is so bureaucratic with red tape being the order of the day. Up-and-coming authors find it too difficult to have their works published especially by mainstream publishers.

There is a general historical culture that hinders the growth of publishing especially for fiction genres. Our Kenyan publishing arena has a pathological obsession with churning commercial course books much to the chagrin of fiction authors and to the detriment of fiction works.

This can only be rectified by stopping the madness of the insatiable appetite for capitalism.

Related Topics


Trending Now


Popular this week