Day zero of the 2012 Caine Prize Workshop

I leave in a few hours for the 2012 Caine Prize Workshop. The good folks at Kwani nominated me for one of the slots. Thanks Billy. (But Billy is probably disappointed with me because I haven’t sent in the diaspora article. My other life, the work life, has made it impossible. I am close to finishing it, the plane ride is 4-6 hours, but Billy might send it to the trash can considering I am time barred…)

My day began at 6:30am. I went to work at 7:30am to tie up loose ends. Left work at 10:30am. I went to the bank to buy rands but they had only dollars so I bought those. Then I went for a Gata Kamsky haircut, an extreme crew cut. (I took a New In Chess magazine with me, showed it to my barber and told him: “Make it look like his.”) In the afternoon I went for an Agatha Verdadero talk. The information on online publishing was excellent. Six to nine in the evening I worked on my diaspora article.

I have packed my bags. Included are a dozen HB pencils, two writing pads, clothes and toiletries, a Sony Discman, my laptop and camera and the following:

Shelley because I like him. E.E Cummings because I just don’t understand him. Ratner’s Star because I want to read it again. Howl for inspiration. The Dangerous album because it must be with me all the time. It simply must.

I fly to Capetown together with the beautiful Brenda Mukami Kunga.

The only problem is I have not decided which story I am going to write at the workshop. I have shortlisted three ideas:

1. “The Fogroach” – A fog of boredom invades Nairobi. Told from the view point of a cockroach like thing living in one of the sprawling dump sites in the City. The dump site consists largely of newspapers. The cockroach and his buddies live under a newspaper sky. The dumpsite becomes the whole of Nairobi for them. They take telescopes and scan the heavens filled with headlines and cockroach astronomers postulate theories about the existence of an alternative universe beyond the newspaper sky and evidence comes about by way of a fog which seeps through their sky etc. I don’t know, maybe this one can work.

2. “Spiced Insider” – Last week I branched off Jogoo Road and drove up toward KPCU and Coffe Board of Kenya. Along the way I saw dilapidated houses and shops sprayed on with grafitti. Words in the grafitti were put together in interesting ways. This one would be the easiest for me to write. But it’s bizzare. Really bizzare.

3. “Taking brother to open mic” – Kwani held an open mic the night before the referendum election and I took my brother with me. My brother and I don’t usually hang out together and this was one of the rare occasions. The Nairobi night was safe and we walked about after leaving Club Sound. I don’t exactly have a story but I can’t shake off the idea.

It’s great to have two weeks for writing. Eat, sleep and live writing. It’s the only way to do it. Not having to go to the office.



  1. Jacob Aliet · March 5, 2012

    All the best man. Keep itup!

  2. Kweli · March 5, 2012


    When I saw your “fog comment” on Keguro’s blog, I attempted a very bad short story in which a fog of boredom slowly engulfs Nairobi. That was over the holidays.

    I’m glad I failed. Now I can have the pleasure of reading your own take on this fog business. The idea was, after all, yours.


  3. aideedystopia · March 5, 2012

    Thanks guys. I will be discussing the story ideas with Caine Prize winner Henrietta Jone who’ll help me decide. The facilitators (or ‘teachers’ as I prefer to call them) expected this to be a problem for some of the participants. Tommorow, I will decide on what is going to be the story I want to tell.

    • aideedystopia · March 23, 2012

      Story has the cloud of newspapers in it but no fog. No cockroaches either. That was too gross! It mixes the ‘spiced insider’ idea. It’s an ok effort. Nothing good or great.

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