Poet who treads where adults dread

Sunday October 18 2015

Baraka Mwangaza Kagira-Kargbo author of Poems, a children's poetry book. PHOTO | MWORIA MUCHINA

Baraka Mwangaza Kagira-Kargbo author of Poems, a children's poetry book. PHOTO | MWORIA MUCHINA 

While many children have written and published books, few have ventured into the genre of poetry. Many young authors write short stories and novellas but poetry has largely been unexploited — even by adult writers.

But not so for 11-year-old Baraka Mwangaza Kagira-Kargbo, who has released a new book of poems for children. The 32-page book is ideal for readers aged six to 14 years. The Class Five pupil at St Mary’s School in Westlands is an encouragement to his schoolmates and friends for his skills in writing poems. They often ask him to write poems on various issues and themes, which he does. This excites his friends.

“Poetry is a form of writing where you express feelings and ideas in a distinctive style and rhythm. I enjoy writing poetry because it helps me play with words,” says Baraka.

Baraka’s interest in writing started a couple of years ago when his family lived in China. By then he used to read storybooks and then write down what he had learnt.

POSITIVE RESPONSE

He then compiled his first narrative titled, Paris talks children’s book, after reading Abdul Baha’s book, Paris Talk in 2011.

“My book was not for sale. But it was an eye-opener since it increased my desire to be an  author some day,” says the young pupil who is compiling poems for his second book of poetry.

Second book

He started scribbling down lines in an exercise book, which had words that could rhyme. His parents and family encouraged him to compile some of the poems for publishing.

However, with the high cost of publishing, Baraka had to wait for some time.

Initially, his parents helped him to print 1,000 copies. He has so far sold several copies at various private primary schools.

The poems are self-published and his mother helped him to edit them.

“Although it’s challenging being a poet in Kenya, I have had positive responses from certain school teachers and poetry lovers, who have placed orders for my book because they love reading poems,” says Baraka.

The book is retailing at Sh200. Some of the captivating poems have titles such as Earthly life, Tummy kicks, When I was a baby, Trust, Nairobi rains, The swimming pool and Best teachers.

At school, Baraka likes mathematics, english, and science. Although he would like to be an actor in future, he says he will always find time to read and write poems. His favourite sport is football.

CREATING WITH LANGUAGE

Apart from his achievements in writing a book of poetry, Baraka has won various honours in swimming, soccer and athletics.

“It’s good for children to participate in sports. One can also make a career out of it. Also, sports helps children keep healthy and fit,” he says, adding that he is also in his school’s orchestra.

“One thing that helps one become creative with language is reading a lot. At the moment I am reading a book titled, Treasure Hunters by James Pertason.

As he promotes his book among his peers, he has been encouraging them to embrace poetry since it’s not only entertaining but can also help one develop a critical mind.

Baraka hopes to take part in poetry competitions and creative events to help grow his writing skills.

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