African Book Talk Series - 'Of Pawns and Players' by Kinyanjui Kombani

‘Of Pawns and Players’ by Kinyanjui Kombani was the second book in our African book talk series. With this series, we hope to offer a platform where African writers can engage a global audience, offering not just their work, but exciting perspectives on how personal, political, and cultural experiences drive their storytelling.

January 04, 2021

Our second book in this series was "Of Pawns and Players" by Kinyanjui Kombani, which is the story of Tomas Karamu, a mutura vendor who is trying to make ends meet. His involvement with the daughter of a rich and prominent man traps him in a betting syndicate. Tomas is in a dilemma between what is morally right and what will keep him out of trouble. What will he choose?

In a fine work of contemporary literature, Kinyanjui Kombani highlights the plight of today’s youth in a country rife with corruption, exploitation, and poverty without sounding depressing.

Program Moderator:

Mshaï Mwangola Ph.D.– Oraturist / performance scholar.



Kinyanjui Kombbani – Author.


Webinar Highlights:

Kinyanjui Kombani- If you are writing anything on paper, you need to visualize it in your mind first, this helped when I wrote ‘Of Pawns and Players’ for I had to sit next to a mutura vendor to really understand what is his 360-degree angle looks like, and that informed my writing. (Time frame from minute 13:37- 14:17)

Kinyanjui Kombani- I feel that for us to build a reading culture in Africa or in Kenya, we need to start with the young generation. We talk about the poor reading culture in Kenya but it's because we are focusing on the wrong people. The older generation is already too far gone, but if we start with the people who are now getting there, they don’t have a lot of books speaking about Kenyan issues happening in society. (Time frame from minute 16:22- 17:15)

Kinyanjui Kombani- Some of the issues I write about are not just Kenyan issues, the story might be Kenyan but the same way we associate with Chinua Achebe’s work ‘Things Fall Apart’, this not only takes place in Kenya but it happens in a global scale. (Time frame from minute 22:20- 22:48)

Kinyanjui Kombani- Everybody is a pawn of someone in the book ‘Of Pawns and Players’ and even the boss himself, we are all pawns in life thinking that we are the players. (Time frame from minute 45:08- 45:24)

Kinyanjui Kombani- I have made good relationships with the people in the publishing houses so I know my main publishers, they have a wide African reach but importantly I do have conversations with the manager and editors on how to improve my work, it's all about the people and relations you have with them than even the name of the publishing house because those are the people who are going to drive your publications. (Time frame from minute 50:30- 51:30)