By ComMattersKenya Press
Published February 10, 2009
Though the book, titled From Terror to Hope and targeting children (10-18) and youth (19-24) reads like a re-enactment of the post-December 2007 election violence in Kenya, writer Ogova Ondego insists it is a work of fiction and that “any resemblance to persons, events or localities is coincidental.”
This story is not only entirely a work of fiction, he says, but “the names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of my own imagination or used fictitiously.”
But many are unlikely to buy this disclaimer or poetic license as the setting of the book bears uncanny resemblance to the cataclysmic events that rocked Kenya between December 2007 and March 2008 after a disputed presidential election in the country pitted president Mwai Kibaki’s Party of National Unity against those of prime minister Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement.
Indeed the introduction to this ComMattersKenya-published book, penned by G Wamaitha Kinyanjui, a leading children’s rights lawyer in Nairobi, appears to place From Terror to Hope in the Kenyan context when she writes: “…a book I feel has come at the right time when our country is recovering from the effects of the post-December 2007 election violence experienced between January and March 2008, when many men, women and children were killed, maimed or displaced due to their ethnicity.”
Kinyangui goes on to describe From Terror to Hope as “a beacon of hope in the midst of despair.”
Revolving around the life of a 12-year-old boy and what xenophobia puts him through, writer Ondego, who specialises in issues related to children, youth, creativity, media and culture and whose 2005 children’s book, Braggart’s Day, did quite well on the market, writes, “When I looked behind, what had been my home was engulfed in flames and a continuous chorus of gunfire, anguished cries and moans, and the smell of cow dung, millet, sorghum and grass-thatched huts blended together in a sad potpourri of sorrow, shattered dreams and a bleak future. What had I done to God, at 12, to deserve this fate?”
Ondego says “From Terror to Hope is likely to move any one, including journalists who are never known to show emotion openly, to pull out their handkerchiefs and wipe away a tear or two as they ‘listen’ to the protagonist. Perhaps wondering why some people suffer so much misery.”
Though a single copy of the soft cover retails at Sh300 (about US$6, excluding shipping), the price per copy is Sh200 if one buys more than 11 copies.
The Braggart’s Day, that targets upper primary school pupils and received rave reviews in the media in 2005 and 2006, is the story of another 12-year-old boy who trudges deeper into a dark forest in spite of the dangers lurking behind the sky-clutching trees, octopus-like creepers and man-eating plants in order to secure a cure for his ailing younger sister.
The foreword to The Braggart’s Day is written by Silverse Anami, the Director of Culture in the ministry of National Heritage and Culture.
“This humorous and expressive story,” Anami writes, “helps to strengthen the threatened intangible African cultural heritage. Students of social sciences, environmental studies and philosophy will find it useful.”
While Sunday Nation–Kenya’s leading newspaper–describes The Braggart’s Day as “an enthralling children’s story relying heavily on traditional idiom”, another leading newspaper, Standard, says, Braggart’s Day “is a fast-paced story whose riveting drama and universal themes capture the imagination of children and adults alike.”