I did a Q&A with Kahora, which got lost in the bowels of my inbox. I've just re-discovered it – and just in time to tell those of you near Minnesota (or willing to buy a plane ticket) that you can meet Kahora and other African writers on October 8 and 9 in Minneapolis. Books for Africa is having a terrific conference featuring Kahora, Nigerian writer Uwem Akpan (Say You're One of Them), Somali writer Nuruddin Farah (Sweet and Sour Milk), and Alexandra Fuller (Scribbling the Cat), who grew up in Rhodesia (though I'm told we call it Zimbabwe now).
The conference is free. (Yeah, that's right. The conference is free.) If you're feeling flush, you can donate to Books for Africa and rub elbows with these writers and hear Fuller keynote at a cocktail reception in the evening.
Okay, back to Kahora.
JM: Who is David Munyakei, and how did you discover his story? Why is he considered Kenya's "biggest" whistleblower, and why did he die in obscurity?
BK: I suppose that’s why the book was written. To deconstruct the complexity of the character. Anyway, just to give a very brief bio, Munyakei was a Central Bank Of Kenya clerk who found himself right in the middle of the largest financial scandal in Kenya and decided to tell the world about it. The best way to know who he is, is to read the book. It’s a bit too complex to give a soundbite.
He won an award and was invited by Transparency International to Nairobi to receive it – and at the same time, they decided to do a documentary of his amazing story; I was also asked to do an extended feature on the guy. I had been trying to sell him the idea of creative non-fiction, which one rarely saw in Kenya at the time and this turned out to be the perfetct story for the form.