03 Oct Meet Elizabeth Wichenje: The Newest Author in Town
By Jane Janet Akinyi
Meet Elizabeth Wichenje, a passionate lover of languages, a lovely and bubbly being, an amazing mother and wife. Elizabeth is the head of the Information and Library Department at the German Cultural Centre, Goethe-Institut Nairobi. When she’s not working, she loves singing, currently learning to play the violin.
Elizabeth’s love for writing started at an early age, while in primary school. She used to write great compositions that would be to be read to other pupils. When she joined high school, Elizabeth discovered her love for the German language and began being actively involved in anything that involved the language. She participated in a German essay writing competition sponsored by the German Embassy and was one of the two winners that year to get an all-expenses-paid trip to Germany for a month.
Having studied German and Library Science at the university, one thing that Elizabeth knows for sure is that language and writing will never leave her life. Her masters’ research was based on the role of foreign language literature in the learning and teaching of German language in Kenyan secondary schools. She contemplated writing a simple reader to accompany her research but this was too ambitious at the time. After she completed her masters, she taught German language in different institutions including Strathmore University, Kenyatta University, Moi University, Goethe-Institut and Rusinga School.
Elizabeth tells me she has written a number of pieces but has so far only published her first set of twin books: Two books telling the playful story of Matuta and her friends. Both books are trilingual: Meine Freunde – My Friends – Rafiki Zangu, which is German-English-Swahili and Mes Amis which is French-English-Swahili. This set primarily targets beginners in the respective languages, irrespective of their age. Granted, most will be teens and pre-teens. These books can also be used by native speakers of these languages who wish to learn Swahili.
She says that having a common language to fall back on reduces distraction while reading one avoids constantly checking the dictionary for meaning of words, that way the flow of reading isn’t interrupted. Her goal is, besides enjoyment, that her readers also have a learning aid. For example, her book has different themes such as family, animals and pastimes. The books are written so simply that they are easily usable by a teacher as a classroom aid for supplementary reading.
To get her book(s), you can contact her publisher Writer’s Guild Kenya or even contact her via her email email@example.com. She loves her job as much as she loves her writing. She says these two complement each other, “one feeds the other” as she would put it.
To many’s surprise, Elizabeth doesn’t believe Kenya has a poor reading culture; instead she challenges the proponents of this hypothesis to do their research and be pleasantly surprised.
Her advice for anyone who wants to publish his or her work: Always have something ready. You never know when a call for applications may come.
And if you wish to start writing: WRITE!!
The books cost Ksh. 230 each