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Books that I would love to read from Kenya

Imagine how honest a book by Lucy Kibaki or Lena Moi might have been

In Summary

• Without stories written by people close to power, there are gaps that draw rumours

President Uhuru Kenyatta receives Retired President Mwai Kibaki at the plane at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport when he brought his wife Lucy Kibaki's body from London on May 1, 2016 .Looking on are Kibaki's sons Jimmy and David Kibaki
President Uhuru Kenyatta receives Retired President Mwai Kibaki at the plane at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport when he brought his wife Lucy Kibaki's body from London on May 1, 2016 .Looking on are Kibaki's sons Jimmy and David Kibaki
Image: PSCU

Our US friends are busy with their high-stakes election process, and as has always been the case with such elections anywhere in the world, rumours abound.

With that country’s politics being as they have since Trump was elected, anything is possible, and there may even be some truth in these rumours. We’ll just have to see what happens.

Meanwhile, I’m sure someone in the administration, or even someone in the Trump family, will write a book about whatever happens. The Americans are quite good about that sort of thing.

 
 

Over in the UK, Sasha Swire, the wife of an MP and former government minister who was close to former premier David Cameron and his family, has published her diaries.

The diaries are the juiciest political memoirs of recent times in that country, the more so as Swire is a former journalist and had better than a fly on the wall access to all the people she is writing about.

This got me wishing that a few Kenyans spouses, children and siblings of our major political figures would get to write warts and all stories about the things they have been privy to.

For instance, I would have been very excited to read the autobiography of Pamela Mboya. It would have been fascinating to get her view of life as the wife then widow of one of the most ambitious and popular political figures of immediate post-Independence Kenya.

Her life in the spotlight as a young widow, what she really thought of the people her husband had worked with and those who were widely rumoured to have had a hand in his death.

A similar book by Christabel Ouko would have sold like “hot chips at lunchtime in Nairobi”, as my old friend Mburu Mucoki used to say.

At least Rosemary Machua wrote a book about her quest for justice three decades after her father JM Kariuki’s's brutal political assassination. While she was quite young at the time of his murder, at least the book in which she shares her memories of her father adds a little more to the literature about those who have shaped our history. 

 
 

Imagine a warts and all autobiography of Mama Ngina Kenyatta, telling the story of life with Jomo Kenyatta a year before he was detained and later jailed. The years leading up to Independence, the State House years and the times as the country’s most famous widow as well as the experience of being the First Lady and then mother of the President. 

In the US, where there have been presidents for just under 200 years longer than in Kenya, there have only been two such women.

The first was Abigail Adams, who was the wife and closest adviser of John Adams. the second President of that country, between 1797 and 1801. She was also the mother of John Quincy Adams, who served as the sixth President of the United States, from 1825-29. 

The second was in my lifetime, Barbara Bush. Wife to George HW Bush the 41st President, and mother to George “Dubya” Bush, the 43rd President. At least she wrote her memoirs. 

Three of them, if you count Millie, the book she wrote about the White House dog Millie Bush, in which Millie recounts her adventures as First Canine in a tour of her famous residence alongside her equally famous owners.

Imagine how honest a book by Lucy Kibaki or Lena Moi might have been, and what an insight into their husbands the world might have gained by reading such a book!

Though many stories have been written and a number of films have been made featuring Winnie Mandela, hers is another autobiography I would give anything to read.

Without authentic stories written by these people and others like them, there will always be huge gaps in the story which encourages rumours, half-truths and straight-out lies.

Meanwhile, I’m available on Twitter @MwangiGithahu