Just a week before I was invited to the Amka meeting, I got myself into a strange fix when I declared rather vocally, that I was ‘not feminist!’ A friend reminded me that I did not have to be a feminist; I could just be someone who speaks up when she sees women being treated unfairly. No difference.
I got it. I have a responsibility to make my voice heard in behalf of all women whose voices are muted. That is why it was so important for me to attend a meeting that declares its objective to sharpen, define and increase the volume of the woman writer’s voice.
I expected it to be a stiff formal meet. I don’t do very well in formal circumstances. I tend to interject, disagree very vocally, or nod very vigorously when I agree.
I was glad when I walked in and found a meeting being held on the balcony of Wasanii Restaurant at the Kenya National Theatre in Nairobi. The setting was an informal circle, with the warm Saturday morning air blowing on us. Nyambura and Renee Mboya were moderating the meeting. Both ladies managed to make all of us relax, some relaxed enough to read out loud their works of writing.
Much of the reading was poetry. I was simply awed by the talent that is present amongst us especially with the young. The themes of the readings varied from death to gender violence to hope. The styles of writing seemed quite developed, even though most of the writers declared themselves virgins at public readings.
Wanjira Hirst read a prose piece spawned during a writing workshop ran during the Kwani Litfest. She demonstrated that the East African experience is unique whether based in East Africa or in the Diaspora.
The meeting was decorated by a serving of tea and snacks courtesy of the Wasanii Restaurant.
Important to note is that although the meeting was a space for women, it was graced by men who support the cause of helping women writers find their voices.