About Kwani Trust : 2003 to Present

Founded by some of Kenya’s most notable contemporary writers including Binyavanga Wainaina and Parselelo Kantai, Kwani Trust is a Kenyan based literary network dedicated to developing quality creative writing and the growth of the creative industry through the publishing and distribution of contemporary African writing, offering training opportunities, producing literary events and establishing and maintaining global literary networks. Our vision is to create a society that uses its stories to see itself more coherently. We work to serve writers and other artists (including photographers and curators) by leveraging the organization and our network’s expertise to ensure that artists have the necessary skills, tools and opportunities to achieve and maintain long-term success.

Kwani Trust registered in 2003 (see a full history here) after a group of writers, artists, filmmakers and journalists started meeting informally to share their work, and discuss the role of contemporary writing and expression in Kenya. In the words of Kwani Trust Board Chairman Tom Maliti ‘It began with questions’:

  • Are Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Meja Mwangi the only writers Kenyan publishers are interested in?
  • Why aren’t new writers being published in Kenya?
  • Why do mainstream publishers remain so uncommitted to new writers and new work? And is this a consequence of a lucrative textbook market?

Questions followed answers that threw up more questions. Within two years, the questions, conversations and their responses through the work of some of the writers and the founding of flagship literary journal Kwani? was vindicated when the annual Caine Prize for African Writing was launched and awarded to Kenyan writers for two consecutive years - Binyavanga Wainaina in 2002 and Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor in 2003.

10 years later, Kwani Trust takes this opportunity to reflect on its internal development as an institution and its place as a literary and artistic organisation within the region and continent. A decade in literature and literary production is a single page in a considerable if not endless history of literary expression and narrative, as old as man himself; or at least as old as man telling stories. But it is pages that build longer histories and narratives. And it is our 10-year page that Kwani Trust want to reflect on during the last 4 days of November 2013.

Beyond reflection, the anniversary programme offers a moment of thanksgiving. Kwani Trust owes a large debt of gratitude to tens of individuals who have it made its existence possible for the last 10 years. From the writers, artists and literary aficionados at the beginning, to those who carried the dreams of the latter through its early years to the present. To the networks and industries that make books beyond the individual writers possible, the printers, the reviewers, the bookshops, the academy and others. To regional, continental and international friends and colleagues. To donors, supporters and stakeholders. Kwani Trust takes these 3 days to return thanks to all these individuals and institutions.

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  • Wednesday
  • Thursday
  • Friday
  • Kwani Trust: 2014 & Beyond

    Time: 10.30am
    By Invitation only

    Cocktail Reception for Chimamanda Adichie with Nigeria High Commission

    Time: 7.00pm
    By invitation only

  • Kwani? Inaugural Annual Lectures I & II

    Time: 11.00am - 1.00pm
    Venue: Room 014, Kenyatta University

    10th Year Anniversary Benefit Gala

    Time: 7.30pm
    Venue: Westhouse
    Ticketed at Ksh 5,000

  • Kwani? 10th Anniversary Inaugural Lecture III

    Time: 2.30pm - 4.00pm
    Venue: 844 Building, University of Nairobi

    10th Year Anniversary Party

    Time: 7.30pm
    Venue: Marshall’s Warehouse

  • Download programme here

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