Archive for Busara Road
For a piece on my Kenya trip last year that just appeared in Friends Journal, click HERE.
Here’s an article I wrote about my recent visit to Kenya and Friends Theological College for the summer 2012 issue of Quaker Life, the publication of Friends United Meeting. It’s a rough scan and a bit hard to read, but I don’t find an online link to the article, so I’m afraid this is the best I’ve got. (Click on the image to enlarge.)
Click below to see a short piece I wrote recently for Pendle Hill Quaker Center that describes my writing sojourns there. For writers in the Philadelphia area, I recommend that you check out Pendle Hill as a place for a personal writing retreat.
Down to the Galagoli River (then up to the Hill of Vision)
What a relief it was to start feeling healthy again!
On Thursday, the day after my reunion with Simeon (my family’s cook and gardener back in the sixties), I received another visit from Silas Vidolo, my number-one companion in Kaimosi. He stopped by to see how my visit with Simeon had gone, and told me that the next day he’d take me on another walking tour. He also told me that he had inquired about Musa (my family’s first cook), and had learned that Musa had lived for some time in nearby Shamakhokho but had since died. The news of his death, while not surprising, was upsetting.
Hesbourne, whose class I’d spoken to earlier in the week, stopped by to get contact information for me in the States, and he also asked why I hadn’t been attending morning chapel. It hadn’t occurred to me that people would notice my absence! I told him I hadn’t been feeling well, but that I’d be there in the morning.
The rest of the day I spent mostly writing up notes, reading a bit, and putting down some thoughts about my novel.
Some thoughts about my novel
A couple of realizations about my writing had started to bubble up. One was this: my memories of the mission from 45 years ago – both factual and sensory memories – were proving to be quite accurate. Although I was learning some things about the history of Quakers in Kenya that would require some adjustments in what I’d written, to a large extent I felt I’d gotten things pretty right on.
The second realization was that my thoughts were increasingly moving beyond my current novel to ideas for its sequel.
I have long envisioned the story I’m creating as having two grand plot lines: the main character’s childhood in Kenya (the first novel), followed by 40-plus years of wandering in the “wilderness” of the U.S. before eventually returning to Kenya (the second novel).
Now…I need to stress that these novels are NOT about me or my own story. The main character is not based on me. The other characters are not portrayals of real people. The locations, situations, actions, encounters, conflicts, resolutions, are all fabricated. It’s FICTION.
That said, however, the novel’s premise – of a young American boy coming of age in a young African nation – certainly holds echoes of my own childhood experience. And the writing of that novel has inspired ideas for its sequel – an odyssey, in effect, that follows the adult character’s efforts to return to the remembered home of his African childhood.
Again, NOT MY OWN STORY. A work of fiction. Yet I was finding that the deeper I immersed myself in Kenya on this trip – both its modern-day reality and its reality within my memory – the more deeply I felt the pull of a second novel that might draw from this same source. Considering how much the first novel has already demanded of me, I don’t take the idea lightly.
Okay, enough about novels – let’s watch some movies!
Before I left for Kenya, Nancy surprised me with a wonderful present: a little Flip video camera. I won’t bore you with the many two-second bursts of nothingness I shot as I learned to use it.
Instead, I’ll bore you with a couple of long segments I shot while on a walking tour of Kaimosi Road!
On Friday, Silas invited me to join him for another guided stroll. The videos below were a way for me to start getting on tape some of Silas’s memories of Kaimosi Mission from when he and I were boys there. These are the first of a small number of video segments I shot while in Kaimosi.
I’m sure that many of you will find these videos distinctly uninteresting. They are long and so poorly shot that you may get seasick watching them. I’m also confident, however, that at least three people will find them utterly fascinating: my brothers John, Rob, and Erin. They walked this very same road with me 45 years ago, and they continue to walk it with me every day in spirit.
These, then, are for my brothers:
Next: a walking tour up the Hill of Vision
I’m posting this just hours away from my IndieGoGo deadline, and I’m thrilled to have met my goal – thank you, thank you, one and all! Keep spreading the word, too – even after the deadline, information about my novel and the Kenya trip will be on the site HERE:
My new Kenya plans are finally coming together. Here’s the latest:
I leave for Nairobi on Dec. 6, and through a freelance writing job (thank you, Nancy!) I’ve met Chris Steele with USAID in Nairobi who VERY kindly is providing me with transportation and a place to stay while there (the profile I wrote about him is HERE). Speaking of the kindness of strangers, Eden Grace with the Kisumu office of Friends United Meeting will meet me at the airport on Dec. 8, host me in her home, and drive me out to Kaimosi on the 9th! Extraordinary generosity. And Ann Riggs, principal of the Friends Theological College, has very warmly welcomed me to stay a full three weeks at Kaimosi Mission until I return to the U.S. at the end of the year. Thank you, all!
Other news, I’ve made contact with Bill Kahora, editor of Kenya’s main arts journal, Kwani?, and director of the Kenya writing program I was supposed to attend, and I’m hoping to meet with him and other Kenyan writers while I’m in Nairobi. I’ve also offered to write about Friends work at Kaimosi for U.S. publications, and have been in touch with the editors of Friends Journal and Quaker Life, so something may come of that.
And last, but certainly not least, amid all this craziness I’ve kept plugging away at the novel, and I’m on track to hand over the final five (rough) chapters of Busara Road to my writers group before I leave. Wahoo!
SLS Kenya – the writing seminar I was planning to attend in Nairobi and Lamu in December – has just informed me they are cancelling the program due to safety and security concerns in Kenya.
The news is quite a blow, since I’ve been reorganizing much of my life in order to make this trip. So…after serious consideration, I have decided to continue with the trip to Kenya on my own.
I am now in the process of figuring out transportation, accommodations, and other arrangements, and I will post details as they get finalized here and on my IndieGoGo site, where you can check my “Updates” section for more details. You can link to it here.
My plan now is to spend less time in Nairobi, no time in Lamu (where the danger seems to be greatest), more time in Kisumu, and most of the month at Kaimosi Mission, which is actually where I most want to be and where I will have more time for research and writing. I’m now working on arranging someplace to stay in both Nairobi and Kisumu, plus figuring out transportation out to Kaimosi Mission, which is all looking quite promising and I hope to have definite news on that front soon.
Stay tuned…and thanks to all who have expressed such strong support and understanding!
My IndieGoGo campaign, “Busara Road: An African novel and Quaker homecoming,” has launched!
Click HERE to check it out.
I’m turning to IndieGoGo to help me get to Kenya in December for an international writing seminar and a return to the Quaker mission where I lived as a kid. On my IndieGoGo site you’ll find a video and lots of info about the project, and a bunch of perks you can get if you contribute! You can also leave me encouraging comments in the “Comments” section. Take a look, and let as many people know about it as you can.
Here’s the YouTube version of the video: