By imaan Jemimah
Published July 20, 2016
I am reading The Braggart’s Day, a children’s story book I just bought shortly after visiting the setting of the story; Kakamega equatorial rain forest in western Kenya for the first time. The adventures of 12-year-old Fadhili, the main character in the book, seem to jump at and grip me tightly. They are as if they were unfolding today. Before my very eyes.
The Braggart’s Day, that you can buy and pay for via Lipa na M-Pesa mobile money, is an action adventure story which follows the misadventures of Fadhili who embarks on an errand with his elder brother. What befalls him in his quest is a series of thrilling adventure which brings out the boy’s nature and general themes of courage, empathy and determination.
Unlike Karaha, his elder brother, Fadhili has the courage and determination to successfully complete the mission. This is primarily because he has empathy for his sister who is ailing and her recovery rests on the success of his mission. He battles an angry weather, an angrier wild hog and an even angrier river and through his courage and determination he sees himself through, albeit by the skin of the teeth.
The Braggart’s Day, based on the Luluyia saying, Imbongo ilolekhanga m’mabukha (hero’s day, day of reckoning or leadership is seen in adversity), takes the reader back to the time when the livelihood of an entire community depended on nature, particularly the forest ecosystem.
Although conservation is not explicitly articulated as a dominant theme, I think readers will appreciate nature and see the value of conservation. Another less dominant but also equally important theme is the community spirit of togetherness. The story is set at a time when working together was essential for safety and survival, I think this is an aspect of early society which needs to be preserved.
To call this story simply engaging would be an understatement. The Braggarts Day’ is more than a good read, it is an adventurous experience that I find just as engaging to an adult as I imagine it would be to a child.
In the words of Silverse Anami, then Director of Culture at the time book was first written, The Braggart’s Day “not only brings out the realities of life in Kambiri Village but also helps to strengthen the threatened intangible African cultural heritage.”
Reading The Braggart’s Day has made me concur with Sunday Nation and The Standard newspapers that, respectively, describe the book as “An enthralling children’s story relying on traditional idiom’ and ‘A fast-paced story whose riveting drama captures the imagination’.
Imaan Jemimah is creator of Tuma Tian, an animated children’s television show that she hopes to put on air in Kenya in 2017. Saying art can be used in fighting vices such as tribalism, nepotism, classism and any other ‘-ism’ in Kenya and Africa, Imaan Jemimah says ‘Tuma Tian is a culturally-relevant and holistic educational TV series targeting lower primary children’.