Kinyanjui Kombani at Columbia Global Centre Nairobi African author series

Editor's note:

This article was published by James Murua Literary.

James Murua
January 04, 2021

Kinyanjui Kombani was this month’s guest at the Columbia Global Centre Book series for African authors on December 9, 2020. The event was moderated by Dr Mshai Mwangola.

The New York, USA-based Columbia University has several branches around the world which aim to create opportunities in research, scholarship and teaching around the world. One of these centres is in Nairobi, Kenya and it performs several roles for its mother university. In recent times, we have seen the centre hosting events for writers like Hassan Ghedi Santur and Panashe Chigumadzi.

The centre recently started a new virtual book talk series featuring African authors curated and hosted by Mshai Mwangola. The first writer featured, on November 17, was Peter Kimani who is still riding high with his book The Dance of the Jakaranda. That event had the writer talk to the audience about his New York Times Notable Book of 2017.

In December, the featured writer was Kinyanjui Kombani and his book Of Pawns and Players. Kombani, popularly known as “The Banker who Writes,” is a Kenyan novelist, playwright, and script writer. His novels are The Last Villains of Molo (2004) (our review) and Den of Inequities (2013) (our review). Apart from fiction for adults, he has written books for children and young adults. He has won awards for his writing like the Burt Award for Young Adult Literature and the Text Book Centre Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature.

The writer was the guest at the new series, hosted on Zoom, with the focus being his newest title Of Pawns and Players which came out last year. For the one hour of the session, we learnt about the writer’s process, his motivations, and how he was able to sell out this new book within weeks after its official launch date. He was led by the ever-professional Mshai Mwangola in the engaging discussion.