It Was All But Taratiddle About Chakava’s Birthday

Dear readers,
I have used the word ‘taradiddle’ to refer to the two articles, that were deeply ostensible in tone, written in the kenya’s Saturday Nation in respect of the 70th birthday of Henry Chakava.Henry Chakava is among poineer publishers to come from Eastern africa.The two articles about him were written by professors Laban Erapu of Bishop Stuart University in Uganda and Chris Wanjala of the University of Nairobi.Erapu’s article was published on 19th march and Wanjala’s on 26th march.They were very scholarly and written in traditional English, but their content a taradiddle;Empty statements deliberately refusing to contemplate the facts in the style of Dobjinsky and Bobjinsky in Gogol’s Governments Inspector and Shakespeare’s nurse in Romeo and Juliet.

I mean both the writers in praise of Chakava’s history of publishing excellence refused to appreciate corporate realities that go with modern book world.They refused to see the five plus decades of corporate and literary undoings at the East African Educational publishers, this they did either out of sheer tommycock,poppycock, whooperishness or a careful paradiddle to the self-idolatry that go with sentimentality in the aged personality.

Chakava was was not to be praised all through,he was also to be shown some corporate deficiences that have been dished to consumers of the goods and services produced and discharged by the East African Education Publishers in particular as well as the eastern Africa community in general.

Let us start with the failings in the editorial services,using the Great Ponds by Elechi Amadi as an example.The reprint of this book by the East African Educational Publishers contains alot of editorial, orthographical and typograhical mistakes compared to the editions initially published by William Heinneman under the African Writers Series.Those days the editorial services were under the aegis of Chinua Achebe,Andre Deutsch,Keith Sambroke,James Currey and A. Higo.The editorial efforts of these people are to be missed given that the editorial mistakes were not easily encountered in the books published during their time. Contrastingly, the current experience is that the editorial faillings are not only seen in the Great Ponds, they are overtly across some books published by the East African Eduactional Publishers, Like the Grammatically mistaken title of the volume of poems having the Song of Nyarloka by Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye.

Where is digital front of The East African education publishers? It is no where and if it is there then it is negligible.Chakava has persistently remained analogue without reasons.Other publishers are already virtual.Amazon is one of them.

Recycling writers of the mid 1900, should not be an attribute of publishing excellence.Chakava has dominantly zero-grassed on Ngugi,Taban,Wanjala,Bukenya,Bitek,Luvai,Erapu,Rubadiri, Mulwa and others that belong to that group of African writers who began writting aroud 1950.Where are the young writers that Chakava have mentored, or what will Chakava Publish when Ngugi is not there?

I have never heard of the Chakava scholarships or the East African Education Publihsers scholarships in support of students of literature,poor students,Phd scholarships for literature or any other student. I have only heard of Chakava hosting tea and dinner for Ngugi, hosting the jubilee of Weep not Child just in the burgeosie instinct and spirit of dinning on lobsters and sea-food as Erapu gallantly wrote of it in his article only to imply how untouchable is Chakava.

The idea is that Chakava works in knowledge making industry, and his organisations have accumulated alot of cash resources which can be usefully applied on corporate philanthropy to support extension of knowledge to the poor, the needy and the challanged.

Apart from hosting Ngugi, the East African Educaton publishers needs to support literary socialisations.Like the way Fountain Publishers pitched a material support in to the economic contributions that saw the successful expedition of the international Eastern Africa literary and cultural conference at Makerere university in august lat year.

It is the time for Chakava and other publishers in east Africa to call for manuscripts in indigenous langauges the way Jalada Magazine has done,it is time for Chakava to call for maunuscripts by queer writers or on queer themes, it is the time for chakava to call the manuscripts on themes of global warming,big cat and cows poetry,tree planting poetry,clean factories poetry,down syndorme poetry, gender,feminism and and other cosmopolitan as well as post-modern literary themes as a way of using textology and textuality to support human comfort.Otherwise , persitent dwelling on themes of anti-colonialism as often Narrated by Ngugi is not a version of publishing exercise to befit an accolade of proffessional excellence.

Alexander K. Opicho

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Articles by Alexander Opicho