This speech was delivered by Mr. Asim Shah, who was the Chief Guest at the Launch of Ida Kemunto’s debut romance novel, ‘Sins of My Father’ on 9th February 2019 at The Kenya National Library. Mr. Shah held Ida’s hands and introduced her to Writers Guild Kenya.
The last time I spoke to a large audience was when I was an MC at a friend’s wedding, so it’s been a while. Don’t worry, the wedding went so well I could write a book about it.
My fellow humans, those who have loved, those who have fallen out of love, those who have been loved, those who are lost for love, those who have experienced romance, those who have lived the romantic fairy tale, those that are still yearning for their fairy tale, those who have experienced abundance of light, or those who believe they are destined for abundant darkness, those who have tasted the sweetness of freedom and the bitterness of heartbreak, those who have felt weak from the callousness of those we felt were close to us… welcome to the world and welcome to today.
We are linked with Ida in our various ways and we are very much connected with her fictional romance that she is allowing us to become a part of today. If you aren’t any of those fellow humans that I talked about raise your hands… Ida, look around this audience, I want you to see how many people are going to resonate with this literary art that you are giving to the world today.
I was humbled when Ida asked me to speak today because it’s very rare that we give each other the opportunity and space to do and be who we are. And so while Ida, you believe that getting to this point in your writing career was partly because of me, you’ve given me an opportunity to do something I’ve been wondering how to make happen – the desire to speak publicly and make an impact by revealing things that can often be so very personal and come from a place so far within that even I don’t know the depths of. A few days ago we spoke about the fear of all this happening, perhaps the fear of us finding out who you really are? I’m going to stand here and reveal a little bit of who I truly am because I want you and all your friends and family to do the same. Revealing who we truly are is OK because that is where the magic happens! Expressing who we truly are is a path to an abundance of love and freedom. And isn’t the abundance of love and freedom the thing we chase after most in our lives?
My truth is that I love Creating safe spaces for others to reveal themselves. It is a beautiful thing to see someone or something blossom from that safe space. I know this from experience…
51 weeks ago, weirdly enough on the evening of 14th February 2018, I don’t remember why on Valentine’s day but Ida shared Chapter One of “Sins of my Father” as it was then. I don’t read many books and I certainly don’t read romance fiction so this was going to be interesting for me! I cannot forget how reading this chapter felt like I was watching it happen at the same time; I’m pretty sure I asked Ida to share more with me… which of course never happened.
There were two things in those 2,000 words of chapter one that churned deep inside me because I immediately connected with the characters: as humans, we inherently crave the feeling of freedom and the feeling of love or romance (yes, even men crave the feeling of romance!). We react when both are given or taken away, it’s the perennial chase. Freedom and Romance make us look and feel amazing. They invoke an exhilarating emotional response that we believe is incomparable until we dig deeper: both take away our sensitivity to fear, both seemingly have no bounds, they are abundant, both we want to last forever, both feel like they belong to each other! I dissolved into a spin of thoughts from what I was reading… are we chasing one or the other, freedom or romance, independently, never concurrently, not realizing that they may ultimately be giving us the same feeling?
The writing was so emotionally raw, it gave me multiple angles to the story, so many ways to connect to the characters and I knew in my own questions that this was Ida exploring her truth, her abundance of creativity, testing the bounds of freedom.
The dream of every author I think, is in having their writing published. So why this was being kept hidden from the world only Ida knows!
Fast forward 50 weeks from when the email said “I don’t mind any suggestion or constructive criticism to my writing” to “please come to my book launch”.
I’m so proud to be here and to see what was has blossomed into what is.
Ida, thank you for revealing the true you because in that process I continue to find the true me. Don’t underestimate what your true self can do and the abundance it brings for you and those around you… oh and freedom is not an illusion!