Today’s guest on the blog is Jane Bwye, a longtime friend and fellow writer. Welcome back to the blog, Jane.
Lela, it’s good to be visiting you again. While browsing through your Writing Wednesday blogs, I discovered our interview way back in 2014. It was the very first one in your series. You mentioned that I might be following it up with an article. Well – here it is – three years later, on the eve of the launch of another book!
GRASS SHOOTS, the sequel to Breath of Africa, will be launched on Amazon on 30th March, 2017!
Caption: Elephants in Shaba Game Reserve
“More rocks had appeared on the near shore, captured by the sun. She glanced at the original clump, and back again. They had multiplied, and were covering the sand bar. They were moving… ‘You’ve seen the elephants?’”
This tender inter-racial love triangle concludes the saga of Caroline’s and Charles’s inter-racial families. Their children climb an erupting volcano, explore archaeological sites along the coast, and go on safari in Kenya’s exotic game reserves. The book pivots round the devastation in a highland village caused by the violence after the elections of 2007. It touches upon present-day problems with foreign aid, beset by politics and corruption. It explores the possibility of alternative ways to help, which include input from the people on the ground – the ordinary villagers – and a burgeoning Kenyan middle class.
That’s sounds like a great book, Jane … one that really touches on the issues faced in Africa today.
The words I wrote in our previous interview have evolved into the main theme which is one of hope, and charity.
Faith and hope are strong among the poorest of its people, who exhibit a simplicity, happiness and gratitude for the smallest of mercies. Volunteers from churches overseas have had life-changing experiences when visiting to help communities in Africa, and I suspect the spiritual benefit received by those offering charity can be greater than that of the recipients. Africa can teach the rest of the world a thing or two about faith, forgiveness and the philosophy of life. I guess that is why I believe so firmly that there is a future in Africa – even though it may not be the same hope as understood by the rest of the world.
Although I have no personally had the opportunity to do missions in Africa, I have friends who are involved in mission efforts in Tanzania and I think you’re probably right about the spiritual benefit accruing as much ot the missionaries as to the recipients. It’s my experience that Christians who live in difficult circumstances are much more reliant on God’s grace as exercised through faith than we are in the 1st world.
The name of my fictitious charity, which is founded in the United Kingdom, is Grass Shoots; and a significant part of the action takes place in the make-believe highland village of Amayoni, which – in Swahili – means birds.
Tropical forest grew in great entanglements around her and its immensity engulfed her. It was denser than she could ever have imagined, with myriad shades of green and mystical shapes and forms, vibrant with life. Bursts of song filled her ears, yet she could see no birds in the thick foliage, which rocked and swished as the wind gusted through.
Suddenly a branch bent over with a crack, and something large and blue flopped partially into view. Her senses were filled with the glorious sight of a large bird, a flash of yellow on its beak, its blue-green feathers melding into the background. It stayed, majestic, still, for a breath-taking second, then crouched forward and hopped in smooth bounds up the branch.
“That’s a great blue,” a voice said at her shoulder.
“A great blue?”
“Turaco. You’re lucky. They’re a rare sight in this forest. The name of the village you’re going to visit tomorrow is Amayoni, which means birds.”
They were standing on a closely-cropped lawn gazing over the carefully cultured flowerbeds at a dense wall of trees. A stream raced between them and the forest, its bank smooth and inviting. On the other side, a disarray of broken sticks and branches trailed in the water. A tumble of trunks growing at various angles dissolved into the mass of trees, blocking off the evening sun.
She stooped to dip her finger in the torrent. It was icy cold. She straightened her back and pulled her cardigan round her shoulders before following the manager into the Kakamega Forest Lodge.
There is an enhanced Glossary of terms at the back of this book.
This sounds like another great book, an excellent follow-up to Breath of Africa.
Thank you for having me again, Lela. I will be happy to return the favour any time.
Jane lived in Kenya for over half a century, where she brought up her large family. An intermittent freelance journalist and business owner, she has written a cookbook, Museum Mixtures (1989) in aid of the National Museums of Kenya, and a History of her church in Eastbourne (2013).
Her first novel, Breath of Africa (2013) was nominated for the Guardian First Book Award. It draws on her experiences growing up in the country she still calls her home. Grass Shoots, the sequel, completes a family saga through to modern day Kenya. The novella, I Lift Up My Eyes, (2015) is set in Sussex.
A world traveller, Jane has bought a bird book in every country she visited. Now living in the UK, she is a business mentor and dressage judge, while indulging her love for choral singing, tennis, and playing bridge.