Book Launch: Contact Zones NRB 08 – Invisible Stories from Kenya’s Queer Community, Feb. 5 2014 @ Goethe Institut
“Being gay is not a crime in Kenya. However, there is still the penal code that outlaws homosexual acts or ‘acts against the order of nature’ between men. The new constitution does offer some hope, by being all inclusive and respecting the rights of all minorities, thanks to having the Bill of Human Rights enshrined in what has been described as Kenya’s best constitution. This is a huge step for the queer community and movement in Kenya. But cases of blackmail, harassment, assault, incidents of ‘corrective rape’, extortion and reports of suicide still occur. Kenya may offer a relatively more open space for the queer community but it is not out of the woods yet. Homophobia still exists and, unfortunately, the queer community is not given the space to tell their stories or even determine how they want to be depicted in the public eye.” Kevin Mwachiro
Invisible is a Kenyan story made up of many tales. Although the issue of sexual orientation and gender identity is a very controversial topic in Kenya, the queer community has recently struggled to make itself more visible. Kenyan activists vocally campaign against discrimination and for the respect of the dignity of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transsexuals and intersex individuals. As a journalist and activist, Kevin Mwachiro has taken on the task of collecting stories from this community. Talking to the young or the old, city dwellers or men and women in the countryside, the poor or the rich, Mwachiro has transcribed the accounts of men and women who have chosen to remain true to themselves despite the many odds that they have faced. Invisible is an exploration of their respective journeys.
The book is published in collaboration with the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung and the Gay Kenya Trust, supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany.
About the Author
Born in 1973, Kevin Mwachiro has lived and worked in Nairobi for most of his life. After attending the city’s Daystar University, he later went on to study at Bournemouth University in the United Kingdom, where he attained an MA in Radio Production. He has worked as a radio journalist and producer in Kenya, Uganda and the United Kingdom and as a correspondent for the BBC World Service. Kevin Mwachiro is a member of the gay activist community. He volunteered at the now defunct TOMIK (The Other Man in Kenya) and more recently at the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya and the Gay Kenya Trust.
About the Book Series
The Kenyan publishing industry largely focuses on school textbooks and NGO-sponsored publications. Two sectors are completely left out: Art catalogues and intellectual perspectives on social reality in Kenya. Local publishers being market economy driven and purely profit oriented have little interest in books on such subjects. For this reason, the best intellectual input from Kenya has remained unpublished, and even the most notable Kenyan artists have no publications on them. Contributions from East Africa are missing in the increasingly globalised intellectual discourse and art scene. There is a shortage of texts on what would be called ‘contact zones’; zones, in which global and local artists, critics and audiences meet, dialogue and (re)produce new experiences and meanings of the art world and social reality.
The book series Contact Zones NRB pays tribute to the developments that have shaped the art scene globally and intellectual discourse over the last decades, especially of postcolonial life in the countries of the region and their relationship to the rest of the world. Emerging from local specific perspective the series is largely dedicated to the protagonists of the East African artistic, activist and intellectual scenes. The spectrum ranges from art projects and cultural practice to knowledge production and political interventions.
Contact Zones NRB is published by the Goethe-Institut Nairobi in conjunction with Native Intelligence, an organization founded by Tom Odhiambo (literary/cultural/media scholar) and Parselelo Kantai (journalist and activist). Contact Zones NRB publishes texts that are not likely to be taken up by other local and international publishers.
More information: www.contact-zonbes-nrb.com
Entry filed under: books, events. Tags: goethe institut, Goethe institut at 50 in kenya, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, Kevin Mwachiro, the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Gay Kenya Trust.