Gloria Mwaniga Minage is the author of children’s books Jacob and Esau and David and Jonathan.
Her happiest childhood memories are those of reading and spending time in the home library. She has also written short stories and poems, some published in the two volumes by AMKA – Space for women writers.
A secondary school teacher in Baringo, she has been pushing her students to write, and reading for pupils at a neighbouring primary school to promote leisure reading.
Why do you think reading for leisure is important?
Language is acquired, not taught. If a child is reading a lot then it will improve their language. And if they have good language then they will understand more, comprehend more in class and even in social settings. A child will be brighter as it opens up their world
Your two children’s books are based on Bible stories. Any for leisure reading?
I once approached an editor at a publishing house with a book of poems for children. They were meant to be fun to read. However he asked, “What are you trying to teach the children?”
When I said it meant to be a fun read, he said that will not sell in Kenya. I was told to put a moral teaching somewhere or else the parents would not be interested in buying.
Being a teacher, how do you encourage your students to read and write?
I recently showed them a video of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk on “The danger of a single story” as an example of someone who is making a living as a writer. As the drama teacher, the poems and choral verses they are performing in this year’s drama festival we wrote together.
More needs to be done to encourage students to take part in writing competitions or a publisher commissioning stories from students.
What makes you sit down and write that story or poem to share with the world?
So many things inspire me. I read a lot and try to finish a book every three days. Reading other people’s works inspires me, like reading James Joyce’ Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. His strong Catholicism theme reminded me of my days in a Catholic school and this made me write a short story heavy with Catholicism as a theme.
Do you base your writing on personal experiences or the things you observe?
I would say it’s a combination of both because when you are writing one of the characters, even for those who say that are writing fiction, will mostly likely be based on experiences and observations.