I still don’t know whether it was a book review or an attempt to write my own biography, even though it read like a tribalist’s log of ethnic profiling. I’m talking about Samora Mwaura’s piece on my book Hard Tackle, which appeared in The Nairobian.
A reader of average intelligence would have hoped that he stopped there, and that from that point he’d have at least pretended to do a book review. But he went ahead to tell his readers that I ought to be inducted into a biography writing course at the University of Nairobi.
He conveniently forgot to inform the same readers that I’m the author of Quest for Liberty, the biography of Dr Gikonyo Kiano. Of course, Samora has also forgotten that the book has been recommended in the same university’s reading list by Prof Henry Indangasi, the man who heads the Literature Department.
So, how am I supposed to enroll for a course on how to write a biography in a university where students will be reading my book on how to write a biography? If Samora had stuck to researching on his so-called book review and not lurched into a torrent of ignorant ranting, he would have also discovered that no other man in Kenya has written more biographies and autobiographies than I have.
But I will forgive him for that for now, because it appears he didn’t even read the introduction of my book. Samora claims that the book does not talk about Uhuru Kenyatta’s social life. Yet, I have clearly stated in the introduction that what is contained in the book does not include everything about his life. Hard Tackle is a political thriller and it does not deviate from that path.
The writer claims to be well-read. I won’t argue with that because, unlike him, I only deal with issues – not characters. Does he know that there are at least seven biographies on Barrack Obama, six on Nelson Mandela and four on Oprah Winfrey? That each book restricts itself to only one particular aspect of the subjects’ lives? Does this journalist understand the difference between a biography and memoirs?
But to test the authenticity of the slant behind the writer’s reasoning in attempting to critic my book, let us have a look at his exclusive sources.
The only person Samora quotes in his piece is one Amol Awuor, and he is asserting that Awuor advised everyone not to buy my book. He also admits that his source, Awuor, did so on his Facebook page. He hangs on to Awuor, whose thoughts he feels are representative of the 82,000 Kenyans who have bought my book in the 34 days it has been on sale. How so objective!
Samora feels I should have desisted from writing anything unsavoury about Munyori Buku, Dennis Itumbi and Dennis Onyango, because, rightly for once, we once worked together as journalists at Nation Media Group and The Standard Group. Yet the writer fails to note that the three are no longer practising journalists, and that they are state officers who actually hold the senior rank of Director in government.
His personal views, which in fact have nothing to do with the book, also delves into my name. He says that in another life, I was called Peter Thatiah. Oh, God! So what is my name now, Bwana Samora Mwaura? When did I quit being Peter Thatiah?
I find it very suspicious that, for a man who is more concerned about my personal life than the book he was trying to review, Samora found it convenient not to mention that I have written eight other biographies. These include the biographies/autobiographies of Jeremiah Nyagah, Dr Gikonyo Kiano, Jason Kimbui, Moody Awori and David Mwiraria. I’m also doing the finishing touches on the official autobiographies of Dr Oburu Oginga, Joseph Nyagah and Zipporah Kittony. Finally, I’m co-authoring another thriller with Issack Hassan, the chairman of IEBC.
For all intents and purposes, this doesn’t sound like the profile of a rookie journalist or a clueless biographer. If I was any of the above, Al Jazeera, Sunday Times of South Africa, Sky Song Press of Canada, The Standard of Kenya and The Monitor of Uganda would never have accorded me glowing endorsements. But it seems Samora was more interested in the dishonest opinion of a lone political blogger than that of a galaxy of professional journalists.
Finally, the sales. It seems that the writer has a problem with my much-acclaimed and successful method of marketing my book. I took my book directly to newspaper vendors straight from the warehouse of the publisher.
This helped to eliminate a long chain of distributors and book sellers. In effect, I circumvented the myriad taxes and overheads and logistical nightmares to get my book to an eager reading populace that answered me with an endorsement of confidence never witnessed before in the publishing industry in East Africa.
The book is already on the streets of Mombasa and Nakuru, in addition to Nairobi. Next month, it will land on the streets of Kampala, Kigali, Arusha and Juba. In six months, Hard Tackle will be the first book in Kenya’s history to make a profit of more than a million dollars.
Only Samora Mwaura knows why he sounds so angry about these figures