WHEN A PEN TALKS WHAT IS IT LIKELY TO SAY?…………………Literary lessons from a talking pen.

By Gloria Mwaniga.

University students are known for pulling strange stunts just because they can, so when a friend told me that the Kenyatta University journalism club chairperson Zippora Muli and a few of her colleagues were on a mission to make pens speak, I knew instantly that I wouldn’t afford the laxity of missing this show.

Pen talk, a brilliant annual journalistic event, only exists within the well built walls of the new Kenyatta University Business Center.


So on Saturday the 10th of February, I found myself comfortably seated in a lecture hall listening in as the very charming Phyllis Muthoni serenaded the guests with her ever-passionate and most heartfelt discussion on poetry.

Among the takeaway points I got from her are:

• When reciting poetry, a poet should aim at setting the tone that will best speak to the audience and not just read the piece.

• That a good poet should be able to tell the difference between poetry on page and performance poetry.

• That every poet should understand well the difference between the creative and business sides of the poetry industry. This calls for understanding as to whether a writer should get publishers or be self-published.

Phyllis went ahead to recite two pieces from her latest poetry collection book ‘The Lilac Uprising’.
Later on, art lover and the star columnist, Khainga Okwemba, unable to resist the beautiful poetry read an extra’ piece to the audience.
Book Reviews

Dr Tom Odhiambo tackled the Books and Theatre Review.
He said that a reviewer should be widely read and able to differentiate between the difference audiences he is reviewing for.
To be tackled in book reviews are subtitles like :
• Author,
• Title.
• Publisher,
• Where to find the book
• Cost of the book.

About play reviews, I learnt that apparently, before a play is staged, the audience should be given a brief summary of the play to read so that they are able to follow it through.
The good doctor emphasized on the importance of using language that is well understood by the 21st century reader and not the one used in the Shakespearean era.

Humor Writing.

We were quietly transported to Mwisho wa Lami, where the very humorous Mwalimu Andrew, the Sunday Nation Columnist explained to us the importance of socialization and research in humor writing. He explained that a good writer uses dialogue together with prose writing and deliberately picks creative names.
A simple plot is also a plus except when characterizing a person.

He however warned the upcoming writers to keep off clichés and venture to create and use unique tidbits. Mwalimu also spoke of the importance of consistency for audience identification and relevance that is created by focusing on topical issues that are easily identifiable.

After the morning session, we were off to a well deserved break as we watched the KU travelling theater ease up our filled up brains.

John Muchiri, the Buzz magazine editor talked of how best to conduct interviews in a manner that will keep the audience’s interest up.
He warned against asking an interviewee questions that have already been asked and focusing on juicy and unheard details.
On sourcing for interviews, John advised on the importance of having credible multiple sources for the sake of verifying information

Investigative journalism and ethics.
Here, Khainga Okwemba spoke of the importance of confidentiality in journalism and challenges faced by investigative journalists like threats on their lives.
He also emphasized the importance of getting multiple sources of information.

Man talk:

Even in a mixed crowd of females and males alike, the well known Man –talk columnist-turned farmer Oyunga Pala walked us back into time as he tackled feature writing and what it takes to sustain a column.

He said his generation of writers used lots of humor and satire as the Nyayo regime wouldn’t allow for anything else. To him, journalism is a service and every writer is only as good as his last story (guess you can judge how good a journalist I am now).
Oyunga said a good journalist is aware of the world trends, and is able to correlate this to real life here.
He said that honesty is one of the major qualities that helped him sustain a well loved column for a decade and a good journalist is a humble one.


Maxmillan Muninwa, a standard columnist spoke of the challenged of women journalists across the globe.

Smitting the icing off the cake

Like every good well balanced meal, the curtains were brought down by the well able Tony Mochama otherwise known as smitta smitten giving tips on how to cover event stories .He said the secret was in making people feel as though they were present at the event.(I do hope that what you feel dear reader).
He spoke of giving people the nitty gritty details they would love to hear and keeping off boring stories.

This, together with tale tales of guys being exiled from their rooms in the Cupid’s valentine spirit, seasoned with innocent over enthusiasm of university students served to be a very exciting and learning experience.

As I walked out of the institution, I hoped that this simple act by a few literature lovers would go a long way in mentoring young ones in the right literary direction and creating our own local Ben Okri’s and Ata Ama Ata Aidoo’s


Namanga Border Land Owners hold their breath as they wait for fair Compensation from the Government.

By Gloria Mwaniga

First there was the formation of the East African Community, a brilliant idea.

Then followed the idea of Construction of One stop Border Post, (OSBP) that will enhance clearance efficiency, ease movement of persons, goods and services across borders, house officials from both sides under one roof speeding the process, even having 24 hour OSBPs to improve efficiency, extremely plausible.

The not- so- great question is, just how much longer are the property owners going to wait before they are compensated?

According to Kajiado Central Member of Parliament Joseph Nkaissery, land for the project was demarcated without proper consultation with the local people, therefore, he argues that the affected people be paid and shown alternative sites to settle on before they are asked to move out.

However, as things are right now, the property owners will have to wait longer as uncertainty clouds the creation of a new lands commission.

East African Community minister Musa Sirma said the plots acquired would be valued according to existing government procedures before owners are compensated to pave way form construction of the (OSBP).
He further added that the valuation will come up with logical estimates on the costs of the land, buildings and other assets on the acquired parcels of land to ensure owners do not end up with losses.

Only last month, the cabinet suspended dealings involving public land until the National Land Commission is set up. But there still are controversy surrounding the Land Bill through which the Land Commission is to be formed.

Under the Land Acquisition Act, it is the land commissioner who has power to appoint a team within twelve months after the publication of the acquisition notice to hold inquiry for compensation claim.

Our prayer for our fellow Kenyans who own that land
May Justice come your way, and may it come soon.

Kenyan Ministries fail to spend billions in first half? Is someone sleeping on their job?

Monday February 20th 2012

According to a budget review finding in today’s Business Daily Newspaper, public institutions failed to spend more than 25 billion allocated to them in the first half of the fiscal year.

Which ministries are these?

• Ministries of Provincial Administration and Internal Security: 10.9 Billion.

• Office of the vice president and Ministry of Home affairs: 5.5 Billion.

• Ministry of State

• Treasury.

Do they have a good reason for this?

According to a deputy director of economic affairs at the treasury Mr. Henry Rotich, The very complicated procurement and reporting systems are the reason.

Can’t something be done about this?

What now?

In a country where over half of the population lives in dire poverty and more so with the current economic situation across the globe, could we really afford to let procurement procedures stand in the way of development?

What is more, the slow absorption is happening at a time when the government is struggling to provide funds for urgent projects like preparation for multi- level elections and implementation of the new constitution.

I believe that the areas in Kenya that need development are quite numerous and we cannot afford the laxity of letting money lie away in some foreign bank account as our Ministers spend better parts of their fun-filled days campaigning and lying away in some exotic resort in the Kenyan Coast instead of ensuring hands on implementation of development projects in the country.

Its about time our African leaders realized that time is not a luxury that can be bought.

To the citizens, we cannot just let sleeping dogs lie; we have to wake them up and get our Monies Worth.

Question is, how do we do this?

Newspaper Review; Man talk by Jackson Biko…..A School for Wives????

A School for Wives????

So on Saturday I gleefully flip the pages of my Saturday Nation magazine pullout
And on page 10, I stumble upon this male perspective page where according to the writer Jackson Biko, a creative Nairobian (ha) has come up with a school to teach women to be better spouses.

The piece starts off brilliantly with him giving the statistics we love to hate on marriage.
• That only forty percent of marriages are happy.
• Six out of ten couples hang out because of kids.
• 76% of men opted out of marriage because their wives became argumentative and disrespectful
• Half of divorced or separated women opted out because their spouses were not treating them as equal partners.

So some smart head decided to go ahead and actually do something about this statistics.
(Impressive considering the Kenyan government does absolutely nothing with all those research findings given to them).
So for only Sh.25, 000, dear lady reader, you will be proudly a student at the Bride for Life, Wives for life school. The good thing is that you do not have to buy hockey sticks and set books and better still there are no exams so you will not need any mwakenya. In six months, you will be awarded a certificate, and commissioned out into the world to make good your knowledge and become a sweet smiling model wife who can cook like the Serena Chef’s, be both best friend and listener to your husband and do whatever else your certificate give you the power to.
So Biko, a typical male has a few topic suggestions he wants covered in the syllabus and they are:
• Verbal restrain to help curb the female tongue.
• Financial management: He went ahead to accuse the female of domestic money laundering and having phantom ATM cards.
• Sex education: That man are visual as and women should try and wear even stuff that is slightly flattering.

Children’s’ Book Review: Sungura Mjanja

Na Gloria Mwaniga

Kichwa : Sungura Mjanja
Muandishi : Rebecca Nandwa
Mchapishji: Jommo Kenyatta Foundation

Sungura ni mwana wa kipekee wa wazazi wake. Mama na baba yake wanajitahidi vilivyo ili wamfunze mwanao tabia nzuri. Anapoendelea kuwa mkubwa, wazaziwe wanamfunza kazi zote za kinyumbani na kumuhimiza kutia bidii za mchwa maishani mwake.
Siku moja, babake sungura alienda safarini , mamake akashikwa na ugonjwa wa kifua na kulazwa.Basi ilimbidi sungura aende shambani kulima na kupanda njugu kwa niaba ya wazaziwe.

Je sungura ataweza kulima shamba hilo lote na kupanda mimea?
Je kila alfajiri aondokapo na jembe begani na redio mkonono, sungura huenda kulima au kucheza?
Na je ,ikiwa asante ya punda ni mateke, basi hasira ya punda ni nini?

Katika hadithi hii ya kuburudisha , kuelekeza na kuchekesha , Mwandishi Rebecca Nandwa ameweza kuwapatia wanafunzi wa madarasa ya juu katika shule za msingi funzo la busara kuhusu umuhimu wa bidii na uaminifu maishani.
Picha nzuri za kuwafurahisha watoto na kupendeza zaongezea uzuri wa hadithi hii kwa watoto.

Kitabu hiki chapatikana kwa maduka ya kuuza vitabu kote nchini .

shairi:Kosa Langu…….

Na Gloria Mwaniga


moyo wangu ulipona,

nikajua bila shaka,

wewe ni wangu

Nikakupenda tangu

Na hilo ndilo kosa langu

Ulipoona hivyo

Ukajawa na madaha

Na kuniona mi ovyo

Ukanitupa bila msamaha

Na kufanya nikose raha

Basi nikajifunza kwa kasi,

Uzuri wa mti ndani mkakasi

Nikaacha wasiwasi,

mapenzi yako nikawacha yapasi

Sasa nimetupa biwi la simanzi

Nikampata mwingine manzi,

Jina lake Lazizi,

anachunga langu zizi,

nami napata usingizi,

Nimepata pia kujikosoa,

kuwa tabia zako za madoa,

Ni zako mwenyewe na wala,

Sio kosa langu

I Await Here…Wedding Poem.

By Gloria Mwaniga

I await here,

For you to give me your hand,

walk quickly down the isle,

Come let’s compose our life tunes together.

I await here,

To put a ring on your slim pretty finger ,

quickly sign these papers,

that make you mine forever.

I await here,

To kiss your soft luscious lips,

Hurriedly say I do,

That I may kiss my bride.

I await here,

to drown in your love

come my love,

lets dive deep in the sea of passion.

I await here

To fly you off to our moon,

quickly shed that fluffy gown,

And grab your pair of jeans.

I await here,

To give myself to only you,

I hope you do the same

And stay by my side forever.