By Patrick Ngugi
On April 28th 2020, Sebuleni creative writing online magazine marked its second year since its first stories were published in April 2018.
What started as a vague idea in the mind of a young and passionate writer-turned-lawyer has grown into a giant to reckon with, as it marches on in its journey into the third year.
It all started roughly three years ago when Jane Wacuka, a.k.a Jane Gerald approached me with the idea of launching an organization which would assist creative writers by giving them a platform to showcase their talents. It’s a passion that was burning in her and she hoped that it would take root and sprout.
After several coffee meetings with her we decided that the best option would be to publish such a magazine online since a print version would be expensive due to printing and distribution costs. Once we agreed on this, the next headache was what to call it.
After more head-scratching and several coffee meetings later, we settled for SEBULENI, a Kiswahili word for a parlour, lounge or sitting room where people sit and share stories.
These meetings happened most of 2017 and early part of 2018. After coming up with the name the next direction was to get inaugural writers who would give the magazine content so that when the website was ready, we would just upload the stories and the illustrations.
Original gang of writers
A couple of months down the line we were joined by the vivacious Nimo Kuria and with her arrival also came the tradition of quarterly merry-go-round meetings at the members homes, where we would meet, share lunch and more real life stories, spiced with humour from the three ladies whose pet topic was horror and ghost stories.
The first to honour us by offering her home as the venue for the meeting was Anita n., who invited us to cozy countryside residence in a hilly but quiet [sometimes muddy] neighbourhood of Ruku, in Wangige area of Kabete.
Three months so later we found ourselves in Kajiado’s Rongai area where we visited Nimo Kuria who narrated an unbelievable and hair rising tale about a dog and a ghost.
About another three months later we were at Githunguri that small but busy town when we visited Cecy, who could not keep her mouth shut with stories about the ‘’landlord’s son.’’
After the visit to my home in Uthiru late last year we were scheduled to visit Eldoret, the land of champions, earlier this year but I guess 2020 did not start well as the Covid 19 forced us to suspend our get togethers, and so Kemboi Victor will have to wait for some time, and this time he should be ready to receive a bigger team.
As the year 2018 rolled on we were joined by other scribes who included Losioki Somoire from Kajiado; from Mombasa came Mundia Ngumi and Jeddy Gibbs Ohanga. From Nairobi came David Karanja, an illustrator who is yet to draw anything for Sebuleni, and from Laikipia we got Winfred Nyokabi, [currently studying in Hungary who joined around this time too]; followed by poets Mwaniki wa Muriuki, Evelyn Ongogo, and other writers such as Yunita Cole, Rehema Malemba and Beverly Masita, followed by Hussein M. Kassim our bilingual scribe.
International membership from Nigeria and U.K.
Towards the end of last year we welcomed Lilian Wairimu, followed by Abina Hipp, a Kenyan who is currently in Scandinavia, who arrived at the time when we were upgrading our website, and she was lucky to be our profile writer of the month, followed by award winning poet from Meru, Muriki Meme. At around the same time Victor Mwene from Busia jumped the band wagon also early in the year.
In recent months we have had Faith Gikunda wring from Meru, and international memberships from Nigeria’s Ridwan Bello writing from Kaduna, and from England we have Manpreet Kaur, writing as Seeb Durazi.
Our latest addition to the ever growing group of Sebuleni scribes is Lewis Wamwanda a poet and an author operating his own publishing firm in Eldoret, and there are more whose articles are lined up to be published in the coming weeks.
As we enter the next phase of Sebuleni we see further growth during which we plan to be holding regular meetings and workshops for our members, including looking for ways in which writers could be recognized and rewarded for their efforts among other activities which members will be informed in due course.
We aim to build this platform to be among the leaders in Africa and promote writing talents of our members and possibly taking them to international recognition, since we believe that the stars are not the limit.
Meanwhile thank you for being a part of Sebuleni’s success and let’s write a success story for Sebuleni.