By Daisy Nandeche Okoti
Published March 21, 2013
A book that seeks to find, celebrate and promote women’s creativity has been published in Nairobi, Kenya. Titled Fresh Paint: Literary Vignettes by Kenyan Women and running 116 pages, this anthology of short stories and poems is written by women about issues that affect women in Kenya and Africa.
The writers–Anonymous, Edna R. Aluoch, Mercy Baraza, Nali Heshima, Claudette Oduor, Faith Oneya, Zipporah Muli, Nymabura Mundia, Margaret Muthee, Priscah Mutswenje, Gloria Mwanige, Wanjiku Mwaurah, Serah K. Njambi, Rebecca W. Nyanjui, Jackie Kamau, Grace Kamau, Valentine Kamau, Kingwa Kamenchu, Joy Kendi, Doseline Kiguru, Jacqueline Ndinda Kioko, Rahab, Esther Wamagata, E. Wang’ombe–are affiliated to AMKA, a women’s writers’ forum that meets at Goethe-Institut every month.
Rebecca W Nyanjui, Edna Aluoch, Claudette Odour, Faith Oneya and E. Wang’ombe look at family and marriage and give hints that there is more to them than what meets the eye.
In Gathoni’s New Dawn by an Anonymous, love and marriage have been presented as the main obstacles to a woman’s wholeness. The short story presents a character who wants to live but the fact that she cannot have a fulfilling life because she is barren points to a society that has not learnt to accept women first as human beings even before they are tested on their ability to bear children.
Rape, abortion, female genital mutilation and prostitution are some of the other themes tackled in the Tom Odhiambo and Eliphas Nyamogo-edited Fresh Paint: Literary Vignettes by Kenyan Women.
Cologne by Mercy Baraza condemns rape whose lasting effect is venom. Kina, the main character in the story, vomits on her rapist 12 years later in a city hotel.
Margaret Muthee also tackles rape in her poem, Fatherly Love? She questions the silence that many women adopt where rape by close family members is concerned. She encourages women to come together and make violators of their rights pay.
Mine Child, a poem by Grace Kamau, is about the feelings of a woman about having a child out of wedlock.
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Another emotive issue handled by these authors is abortion that seems to have become the rule rather than the exception. Over my Shoulders by Jacqueline Ndinda Kioko captures this attitude well; it urges young women to refrain from abortion.
Although many pieces in the book were written purposefully, one cannot help noticing grammatical mistakes in the book whose retail price per copy in Nairobi is Sh500 (about US$6).
The book is an easy read considering that it uses simple language and phrases that are very close to the knowledge of any average reader.