Monday, June 8, 2009

Move to make Githongo book more available

By NATION Correspondent

The book baring it all on Anglo Leasing will soon be within your reach.

Protestant churches and the Catholic Church, some civil society groups and local media outlets have decided to make the book — It’s our turn to eat — an account by Kenya’s former anti-graft czar John Githongo more accessible.

The book, authored by Michela Wrong, gives details of looting by politicians in the nascent stages of the Narc government in 2003 to 2005 and the events that led Mr Githongo to resign as Permanent Secretary for Ethics and Governance and go into self-imposed exile in the UK.

Fear of libel

Fear of libel cases has prevented Kenyan booksellers from stocking the book. The new plan is to break the bookseller boycott by distributing over 5,100 copies, for free or at discount prices.

“The plan is to get the book to those Kenyans who cannot afford to travel themselves and don’t have credit cards — to access it,” the author says in an email over the new move.

Churches plan to debate the book in parallel with relevant passages of the Bible.

The Open Society Institute, a governance organisation and some media houses have also agreed to take part in the initiative in coordination with the American aid agency (USAid).

Another local NGO, Pen Kenya, will stage public readings across the country.

A local newspaper will distribute five free copies a day to readers and will use its network of newspaper vendors to sell additional copies.

Already the Daily Nation has serialised the book.

An FM station will be discussing the issues raised in the book on a show and will be giving free copies to listeners.

Proceeds from the initiative will fund purchases of another 3,000 copies, says the author, adding that an anonymous British entrepreneur has thrown in £10,000 (Sh1.2 million) to make this possible.

The project went into action on Monday.

The booksellers’ fears are pegged on previous experiences of two controversial books — British forensic expert Dr Iain West’s Casebook and British author Andrew Morton’s, The Making of an African Statesman.

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