Name: Gabriel Dinda
Education: Economics and Finance, CPA
Institution: Kenyatta University
CEO, Writers Guild Kenya
His zeal for literature is obvious. Gabriel is a true devotee of the pen. And rightly so; he was a pen master during his college days, writing for several publications at his alma mater, Kenyatta University.
His journey to where he is now, (he started writing in 2014) has not been an easy one, especially since there are those who sneered at his dream. Often, the rigours of writing tend to make isolationists out of people; writers who prefer to take the trek alone, yet Gabriel could not withstand the ennui of being a lone wayfarer.
Through his fervent love for written work, he was bound to cross paths with his peers: other student admirers of literature. These, he reminisces, were tussling with the same litany of setbacks he was stacked against, including lack of mentors and people with whom to share his ideas and proof-read his works, yet they saw in him a beacon of hope and counsel on how to navigate the literary canal. In them, he saw partners in the odyssey of writing.
Through these constant interactions, he conceived the idea of founding an avenue for literature enthusiasts to share ideas. He says: “With several people on board, I thought, why not establish a reliable platform for writers to express themselves?”
In 2014, Writers Guild was registered as a writing club in Kenyatta University. Gabriel says: “Our goal was to promote and develop the culture of writing among students.”
However, it did not occur to them then that Writers Guild would grow into a movement. Members capitalised on their enormous presence on social media to spread the word, and through this, they got a big shove out of it. “You can never underestimate the power of people with a vision,” Gabriel avers.
Writers from Kakamega, Eldoret and Mombasa joined the bandwagon. Soon, the wagon was breaking at the seams, and the group was now grappling with an altogether different challenge: managing the numbers. “Kenya is a rich bedrock of mind-blasting literary potential awaiting extraction,” Gabriel observes.
Writers Guild Kenya was registered in March 2015 as an incubation centre. The organisation trains young writers in a programme involving intense weekly writing courses, rigorous writing tests, and evaluation. The incubation lasts for three months.
As their activities grew from leaps into bounds, there was a compelling need for seamless coordination of programmes. Writers Guild Kenya therefore set up base in ICEA Building, located at Nairobi’s CBD.
It is intriguing how an economist would swim so deftly in the current of literature, but even Gabriel admits that to him, this is an enigma. “When the tidal wave of literature blew over my life, I had to oblige.”
He has since gelled in the new trade and career, which employs three other people.
Through their initiative, Ekklessia, they meet writers and publishers at the Kenya National Museum’s Ford Hall, every Friday afternoon, to share ideas on how to turn the literary tide in the country.
In partnership with their affiliate writers, they organise book expeditions in the community, conduct book reviews, donate books and stage poetry and music performances.
So far, they have trained 22 writers from across the country. To feather their cap, they have published a poetry anthology, Through the Journey of Hope. One of their writers, Boniface Sagini, will launch his title, Thrills and Chills, today at the Ford Hall, Kenya National Museum. If success as a writer confers upon one the pleasure of royalty, then Gabriel’s writing propensities have been his plank to eminence, mingling with prolific authors, an honour which to imagine only a few years ago, would have been a fabulous flight of fancy.
On Kenya’s scorecard on the continental literary map, Gabriel laments: “Here, when you tell someone that you are reading a certain book, you sound primitive.”
Gabriel is however upbeat about change. “There’s hope. So much hope,” he says.
WGK has a vivid strategic plan whose principal goal is to empower, support and guide writers through the traditionally tortuous journey of writing, publishing and marketing their works. “We envisage an environment where authors are able to live off their literary endeavours.”
After nurturing writers, WGK connects them with entities with different writing needs. Fourteen of their writers have been able to get employment this way.
You have won awards…
In 2014 I was recognised as The Most Promising Entrepreneur by African Liberty Organization for Development (ALOD). I’ve been named among Top 25 under 25 Entrepreneurs in Kenya by African Garage and KCA University.
What do you hope to do in 2017?
We hope to scale up our engagements with writers and stakeholders. In this regard, we hope to partner with various relevant organisations.
You hope to host Nigeria’s Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie…
We’re in communication with her team. We hope she’ll visit Kenya under our banner. We’ll communicate about this matter on our social media platforms.
Say something to budding writers reading this…
Imagine doing what you genuinely love, and being paid for it! Will it be work anymore? That is the result of nurturing your writing passion. To all budding writers, nurture your passion.