Oluoch Madiang is a writer, farmer, poet, teacher, social and behaviour change specialist and photographer.
He has written a number of children’s’ books among them the much-loved In the Land of the Kitchen and Then We Were Fools No More.
Madiang won the poetry category at the 2017 Nyanza Literary Festival Prize for his poem “These Things She Carries”.
He spoke to natiomn.co.ke about his literary fantasies and favourites.
Which one book do you hold so dear that it can’t possibly be lent out?
Read with Us, the English book two reader that dad bought me ages ago when I was in Primary School. The stories in there were to live for – “The Grass Soup”, “Lazy Mary”, “Tom’s Lost Pencil”, “The Carpenters Short Trousers”! I read the stories to this day.
Your childhood favourite book?
Read with Us was my favorite English language book, Ahero Dhowa my favourite Luo book and Hekaya za Abunuwasi for Swahili!
Who is your literary crush? (Not a book character but a real person you admire in the lit world).
I am not only randy and promiscuous in this regard but also multi-oriented and I am not ashamed of it at all.
Further, I have loved and hated individual literary persons at the same time. Faith Oneya just turned me mushy with her “Fresh Paint”, Kingwa Kamencu with her boldness, Fred Mbogo with his vivid seduction, Oliver Minishi for his other-worldly creativity and Oluoch Chianga for his freshness.
What’s your greatest fear?
I don’t know, especially in this our country. Sometimes I fear that I will become a politician and lose my humanity like the lot we have.
Other times I fear that I will win billions in a lottery and not have a clue what to do with that money.
Then I fear that darkness has become our default light, lies our default truth. I fear so much that we are all fast losing shame and being proud of it!
Most embarrassing stage/writing mistake ever?
Once at Nakuru Players Theatre I (Mr Apjohn) was acting with Rose Atieno (Mrs Bompas) and Meshack Warambo (Mr Bompas) in George Benard Shaw’s How He Lied To Her Husband.
In one scene, Warambo and I were to be engaged in near fisticuffs but be separated just before by Atieno.
Unfortunately – or otherwise – Warambo and I acted so well that Atieno became a spectator and forgot to hold Warambo. That is how I received a man’s fist-blow to my nose and bled the whole evening. We stopped the play!
If you were to dine with three writers dead/alive, who would they be and why?
First, I wouldn’t for the life of me dine with dead people! Wololo! But were it to save me from persecution, I would dine with Chinua Achebe and ask to understand why he finished Okonkwo! I would also break bread with Richard Oduor Oduku, Oyunga Pala and Jackson Biko ‘Bikozulu’ and grill them to tears on why they have not published their own books.
Most unforgettable character from a book?
When Shakespeare gave the Jew character Shylock those words that underlined the sameness of us human beings, he tattooed in my memory the shame of how we mistreat each other on account of silly things like colour, religion, tribe, culture ad infinitum.
Shylock words were apt, but to this day I hear his ring when he cautions the oppressor that the oppressed may ‘outdo my teachers’.
Which book do you wish you had written and why?
The Bible. I would change quite a few lines and verses in there just to get even with the colonialists who came with a gun to brutalise us and the bible to lie to us.
Greatest craft sin you have committed?
Some people have accused me of telling children too much truth about lying adults in my stories.
If you were sent off to Robben Island for a year, which three books would you take with you?
I have not a streak of criminality or antagonism so as to b jailed, however, if I were to find myself in that dreaded place, I will not carry me a book. Not even one. Instead, I will use those 365 days to write down and finish the three books that have resided in my mind for ages.
If you weren’t an artist/writer, what would you be?
I already am a teacher and social and behaviour change specialist and a farmer and a photographer and a son and a brother and a friend and a servant and a citizen and many more. If I weren’t all that in the absence of art, I would be a lover!
Any other interesting thing you’ve always wanted to tell readers?
That I look forward always for the day they will be writers and authors. That if they buy my books they’ll make me rich and only then will I be able to contribute in their fundraisers na kadhalika. It is fun, dear readers, to buy my books!
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]