By Boera Bisieri
Published December 10, 2017
I am almost worn out from two early morning meetings when I enter a café for a quick cup of coffee.
Point Zero Café along Posta Road off Kenyatta Avenue, a short distance past Nyayo House that serves as the headquarters of Nairobi City County, is not just any eatery but the home of a book club known as Point Zero Book Café that brings together lovers of books and coffee to indulge their passion.
This special café is situated right at National Museums of Kenya’s Nairobi Gallery, a place of great historical significance. This, too, is the true centre of the 118-year Nairobi City and where all distances to all corners of the country were measured as it served as the office of the regional administrator known as Provincial Commissioner of the capital of Kenya.
Walking into the book café you meet thespians Mshai Mwangola, Mueni Lundi and Aghan Odero performing excerpts of the book under discussion.
“I love the performance part of the book club. It is like a teaser. It entices me to go read the book,” says Sigulapi Mwamba, a regular attendee of the book café.
“We want to stimulate conversations about the issues that arise from the texts and what better way than actually performing the texts?” explains Mshai Mwangola who, together with Mueni Lundi, co-founded Point Zero Book Café in January 2017.
The book café takes the unbeaten route of exploring African literature with a keen eye on those written by women.
First to be performed and discussed was Dust, a book written by Yvonne Owuor of Kenya. Next was Ghana Must Go by Nigerian-Ghanaian Taiye Selasi followed by So Long a Letter by Mariama Ba of Senegal and finally Homegoing by Ghanaian-American novelist Yaa Gyasi at the end of the year.
“We meant to explore African books that tackle issues that affect us directly and coincidentally, turns out all these books are written by women,” explains Mwangola.
Point Zero Book Café serves book conversations with coffee. Andrea Moraa, who co-owns the Point Zero Café with Wangeci Gitobu, is the coffee master who educates attendees of the book club on matters concerning coffee. She not only introduces book-lovers-cum-coffee-customers to various kinds of coffee and how to brew them but also gives them the chance to taste coffee them.
“When I started attending the book club it’s because I loved books but now I religiously attend because I love books and coffee,” says Juliet Musimbi.
“I find Joy in being a coffee master and the increasing rate at which members buy coffee is a sign that I rub on them the love for coffee and that is fulfilling,” says Moraa.
Odero, who joined Mwangola and Lundi later to make the delectable trio of Point Zero Book Café directors was, like the duo, a member of the Theatre Workshop Production back in their university days. It was while here that they appear to have mastered the art of storytelling.
“We started by performing non-fiction. We staged a performance that included several actors and called it ‘Weaving Women’,” Mueni says.
Odero joined them in 2016 when they started doing fiction with the text of Owuor’s Dust by Owuor.
“It was the people’s response to the performance that made us realise we needed to pay attention to the fiction project. We contacted Point Zero Café and the book club came to birth,” says Mwangola.
The Point Zero Book Café, which goes down every third Saturday of the month, is open and free for all. Here, books of all kinds are availed by Kwani? Publishers at a subsidised price.
“We needed our members to easily access the books at a more affordable price. We thank Kwani? for making that happen,” Lundi says.
The book club held its last discussion of the year on November 18, 2017. It will resume on the third Saturday of January 2018.