Farrah Bhaijee is the founder of Kahawa Mombasanii, a Mombasa-based blog that follows her journey in handling a full-time job while trying to build a media empire in a town that is making its mark in the creative world.
She is currently working on her Young Adult novels while constantly entertaining her followers through her funny and edgy stories, and her status updates. Farrah also makes YouTube videos that you can find under Kahawa Mombasanii.
She spoke to Nation.co.ke.
Tell me the three books that excited you the most in 2017?
Dangerous Minds by Janet Evankovich, Unbroken Wings written by Lubnah Abdulhalim and Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. Personally trying to implement ‘Yes’ in my life and take risks in things I normally wouldn’t have. I think Shonda’s book was the most inspiring read of 2017.
Which two books do you hold so dear that they can’t possibly be lent out?
Art of War by Sun Tzu. I have a hardcover book that comes with its special case and the book just smells divine. Plus there’s nothing more zen than meditating on a book that could help you take over the world. I’m just saying.
One Day I Will Write About This Place: A Memoir by Binyavanga Wainaina. I mean come on. If you haven’t read it just do yourself a favour.
Your favourite childhood books? Why?
Goosebumps by R.L. Stine was life. I would breathe, eat and sleep with Goosebumps. I loved the unexpected events and adventures the kids would go on while I sat in my oversized clothes on the sofa. They also had the choose-your-fate (is this what it was called? 10-year-old me chewing ball gums thought so) books too where you pick the characters' fate and let’s be honest that was VR before VR knew it was VR.
If you were to dine with three writers dead/alive, who would they be and why?
Shakespeare will be my first option. I want to share the Romeo and Juliet series I used to write on Kahawa Mombasanii and see if he likes it. I mean he probably will because Juliet is the Royco to Romeo’s life. Then I want to make him listen to modern rap songs and have a few challenges.
Second, who do I want on my round table? Hmmm. Roald Dahl. Oh, his books are magical and his characters are people I’d love to have as friends. I’ve grown up watching the movies and reading the books and I’d still sit and read them now. Fun fact, he was also buried with his favourite things when he died. I’d like to know if they were of some use to him in the afterlife.
Third would be Muthoni Garland. I attended SUSS2018 workshop about a month ago and I’d love to be able to annoy her in person over a cup of coffee and hear about her uncensored journey about publishing in Kenya. I also secretly think I could convince her to play games with 'Shakey' (Shakespeare’s new name) and Dahl.
Most unforgettable character from a book?
Bellatrix Lestrange (Harry Porter). With her carefree hairstyle and charming personality I think we’d be good sisters. Imagine the fun I’d have walking around Mombasa with her waving her wand all over the place. Hah!
‘Wingardium Leviosa’ [used in Harry Porter to mean levitate] ourselves through traffic baby! If you haven’t noticed by now I’m the odd nut in the jar.
Which book do you wish you had written and why?
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. That’s a whole new level of writing over there. If I wrote that book I’d honestly have someone hold my kahawa as I drink it. That’s how extra I’ll be.
I found it as one of the hardest reads I ever did but I loved the mystery the book was based on.
If you were sent off to Robben Island for a year, which three books would you take with you?
Do three empty exercise books count? I mean I’d finally get the time and peace of mind to write my own books.
If you have to tickle my pinky toe then I’d say Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide by Douglas Adams and Dust by Yvonne Owuor. Let’s be honest though I would sneak in a cook book seeing as I’m there for a year and I don’t know the food situation.
Do you think book festivals, literary prizes and writing workshops are important to a writer’s growth?
Yes. Yes. A thousand times, yes. Having recently attended a workshop I think we highly undervalue the benefits of these things in our goals. Connect, share, build ideas and learn more about your craft. I think everyone who knows me, knows how much I looooooooveee meeting fellow writers.
I think there needs to be more literary events, publicity and support for Kenyan writers. There is a huge gap between content creators and the publishing world at large here.
Tell me about the last book that made you cry?
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. I love dogs and any book written from a dog’s point of view has me drowning in my own tears. I’ll let you decide if its tears of joy or sadness.
Among your contemporaries, who do you consider the most exciting newcomer in the writing world and why?
Abdulrahman ‘Abu Amirah’ Ndegwa and Lubnah Abdulhalim aren’t newcomers but I do believe they are making major moves in the industry. As individuals and a collective they are bringing up the writing world in Mombasa and Kenya at large. I have never met two people who are so humble and caring and who have such a drive in this industry.
They quite simply inspire me.
What are you currently writing?
I’m most excited about finishing my young adult novel based on a post-apocalyptic Mombasa while my blog Kahawa Mombasanii goes under maintenance until later this year. On my website I will be sharing short light-hearted stories on my journey to becoming an international bestseller (yeah you read that right,) and share funny experiences I go through on a day-to-day basis.
The novel is based in Mombasa in the year 2070. Amina is the first not to graduate according to the serikali’s policy and quickly finds herself on the run from her reaper as she journeys through different colonies around the Coast in search of answers.
BY THE BOOK is a literary series that covers authors, bloggers, actors, academics and poets of note in the African continent. For comments or inquiries, e-mail: [email protected]