Kithaka wa Mberia: How a successful author became a publisher

Kithaka wa Mberia is arguably one of Kenya’s best-selling authors with eight of his books having been approved by Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) as study texts in schools. He narrates why he got into self-publishing, how to make money from books and how he’s helping fellow writers publish their works through his outfit, Marimba Publications.

Describe yourself and why you got into writing?

One element that humanises us and separates us from animals is our ability to change our environment. Creative writing is a way of chipping in or contributing in a modest way in improving society. You cannot divorce any form of art from entertainment, but entertainment cannot be the primary goal for my writing.

What is your favourite book and why?

That is very difficult to say. It’s like asking someone who has three children, “Who is your favourite child.” My books are written for different purposes. Natala (1997) which became a set book in 2005 until last year, is about gender issues. Kifo Kisimani (2001) which was also a set book for seven years, deals with dictatorship. Flowers in the Morning Sun (2011) is about political clashes and also tackles the land question which is a big issue in this country. None of these issues is more important than the other.

There have never been tribal clashes in this country by the way. If the clashes of 1992, 1997, 2002 and 2007 were tribal, then logic dictates that the fighting would continue in intervening years, which didn’t happen.

The most dominant variable in these clashes is politics. I call them political clashes because they happen around the time of elections. Negative ethnicity definitely plays a role in the suffering of Kenyans, but politicians use it as a trigger to create clashes. Continue reading