By Caleb Kola Okello
Published April 24, 2015
Life is a stage on which we all have a role to play. This could be the summary of Stories from Life, an anthology of 13 short stories and six poems that are aimed at educating, informing and entertaining the reader.
The stories, written between 1991 and 2011, are a blend of fiction and factual writing with incision that creates visual and emotional feel in the reader. The main themes include service, love, lust, greed, and power clashing with traditional African values, Christianity and liberalism.
The book targets general readers—including children and youth—as it covers topics of general interest that the writer, Ogova Ondego, says are “not to justify anything but to inform, educate and caution” besides entertaining and celebrating humanity. Thus the writing can be read, understood and appreciated by children as well as young adults.
“My primary motivation for writing,” Ondego writes in the Author’s Introduction, “is the love of sharing information with other people…My rural and urban African experience and globalisation, otherwise known as westernisation, have all left a mark on my writing.”
That noted, it is therefore not surprising that the stories in the book are not set in a single locality or country. There is a touch of different stories from different countries, including a mythical nation where animals work and behave like human beings. However, the Kenyan political and commercial capital, Nairobi, appears to be the setting for many of the stories. As attested to by the front cover that bears an illustration of the Nairobi city scape.
The book is easy to read as it is written in simple language. The stories are short and captivating, making it easy for the targeted group to read without losing focus.
The book is well documented and authored with different creative styles. The amalgamation of poetry and short story in one book breaks monotony of one dominant style.
The book, first published by ComMattersKenya of Nairobi in 2011, is a good piece of literature that is recommended reading for any lover of African creative writing. It can be read and done with within a sitting as it is just 56 pages long. And it retails for a mere Sh300 (US$4!) in Nairobi.
The writer of the book, Ondego, specialises in issues related to children, youth, creativity, media, arts and culture. Some of his other titles include The Braggart’s Day (fiction for children), From Terror to Hope (fiction for youth) and How to Write on 1001 Subjects! (manual for creative writers, critics and journalists).