Nairobi | May 2007

Suhaila Abu Cross. Born in Nairobi a long time ago of Ugandan/English heritage, she was brought up at the coast of Kenya and schooled at Loreto, Makerere and UC Santa Cruz. Having lived and worked all over the world she has now settled back where she started, in Mombasa .

After four children and several marriages she is now dedicating time and energy to lifelong sublimated passion to write. First time around she co-wrote a play for German theatre and radio with the founder of Green Party, Günter Groeshel. She contributed a regular column for Msafiri, the Kenya Airways in-flight magazine, for several years. She also works in film and has written produced, co-produced and directed short films and two documentaries for NZTV and Lonely Planet. She also collaborates with directors on film, theatre and art projects. Her feature film story, “A Four-Weave Plait,” is in script development in Holland .

Suhaila says, “Have written a terrible first novel, as yet unpublished. Also, many short stories, some published in unimportant places, the rest waiting to be published as a collection (i.e. after novel hits the shelves – this is called a ‘strategic career plan….’ Ahem). Currently working on second novel, which I trust will be an improvement on first.”

“My Many literary influences including Doris Lessing, Alice Walker, Camille Paglia, Germaine Greer, James Baldwin and Kurt Vonnegut. I also enjoy essays of Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison. I love Doreen Baingana’s ‘Tales from Entebbe ’. I wish there were more readable African women writing. Do not enjoy reading male authors, unless very, very humorous (like Binyavanga – grovel, grovel.) Have no burning or creative interest in war, poverty, crime, disease or death in the African context or otherwise. My main themes are humour, love, sex, madness, the strength of women and the indomitable human spirit.”

Kingwa Kamencu is a published writer whose first novel, To Grasp at a Star, won 2nd prize in the 2006 Wahome Mutahi Literary Award and the National Book Development Council Award (2003). Currently working as a journalist, she is not only a budding scholar but a social and political critic. She has previously published poems and short stories in local papers and magazines and is working on her second book. She is passionate about the emergence of Africa as a world power and the complete emancipation of women from political, social and economic setbacks. She recently graduated from the UON with a first class honours degree in literature and history. She believes life is to be lived to the full – never do things halfway.

Iovanna Mesopir was born in Nairobi in 1976 and has made it her home. She attended high school at Loreto Convent Valley Road then joined the Catholic university of Eastern Africa where she graduated with a BA in Social Science ( Sociology). Later she graduated with an Msc in Entrepreneurship from the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. Currently she works with East African Cables Limited. Iovanna describes herself as a novice writer. Her first unpublished short story “The boat to the boat” was inspired after attending the Kwani/SLS workshop in Lamu 2006.

Oyunga Pala is probably best known for his controversial column, “Man Talk,” in the Saturday Nation Magazine. He is an avid writer whose work ranges from social commentary to fiction as well as travel writing. His other regular column is the “Motorcycle Diaries” in Kenya ’s Drum Magazine. His work has also been published in issue 6 of The Reading Room on http://www.readingroomjournal.com/ – this is published by http://www.greatmarshpress.com .

His mellow voice is remembered by many who enjoyed his radio program, “Sex Talk,” but his identity remains a well-kept secret, hence the lack of an accompanying photograph. He has, however, been known to surface at kwani? Readings (under the strict adage that no pictures or footage may be recorded) and credit goes to him for transforming the readings into the now popular kwani? Poetry Open Mic by encouraging writers to share their work. It is only fitting to have him take to the stage and read his work at the Sunday Salon Nairobi.

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