Mwandishi Bootcamp: Where Writers Grow

By Zainab Muthoni

On the seventh day of April, members and non-members of the Writers Guild Kenya attended the monthly Mwandishi Boot Camp at John Kaheni Residence, Kirigiti, Kiambu County. This is a once a month activity organized by Writers Guild Kenya, to take writers out of Nairobi, into a conducive place for meditation and intensive writing training. The Boot camp is organized jointly with John Kaheni Residence-Youth Centre.

A rich story gave this Residence its name. The story of John Kaheni, a young boy who had bravely fought heart disease till his demise a few years ago. He left a name in an environment that was not only serene in its lush green grass, exceptional in its wealth of giving hope to a generation of young people, beautiful in sketches of art painted on its walls, but it also played host to an unforgettable Boot Camp experience that day in partnership with the Writers Guild Kenya.

The activity-filled day began with random face to face interactions meant to familiarize the individuals with each other. Eventually, the activity made friends, individuals who walked in as strangers. To start off the indoor sessions was an eye-opening spoken word piece that touched on the role of education in defining success, it would culminate into this quote ‘I will not let an exam result decide my fate’. Paulette Odhiambo, the Communications Manager at the Writers Centre would put emphasis on one of its remarkable lines that ‘If you don’t build your dreams, someone will hire you to help them build theirs’

The ever jolly CEO of Writers Guild Kenya, Gabriel Dinda, introduced the first guest, Daisy Rono, Marketing Manager, Oxford University Press(EA).

Daisy, an expert in marketing, articulately delivered on the topic of ethical ways of marketing. She posed various examples of ethical dilemmas that brought up healthy discussions in the room, clearly challenging everyone on incorporating wisdom in judgement. Standing indisputable in knowledge of helpful marketing tools, Daisy shared vastly not only as an experienced marketer but also as an alumna of Harvard University. The knowledge she shared was very informative, making the experience an un-regrettable one. Clearly denoting the importance of personal branding in marketing, this quote escaped her lips severally “Be today, who you want to be in the future”. It challenged the average writer to make use of free online tools to brand oneself as outstanding.

Steve Obuogo, Education Services Manager of Association of Chartered Certified Accountants(ACCA), delivered a life-transforming speech on the topic “Towards a Better Human”. He pointed several things that if done continually, would make humans better. Some of these things included being fierce in love, trust and honesty, being a just patriot, strengthening the will of both the mind and the soul…among many more things that would steer humanity to being better together. Loudly spoken in his speech was a tone that called humans to seek happiness and contentment and to have the ability to differentiate the two. And as time would allow, this quote got into the ears of the attendees ‘If you are doing the right thing and are consistent with the input, then the output will be consistent’

The session would be wrapped up by nuggets of wise words, blunt and barely sugar coated pieces of advice from Kelvin Kuria, Country Manager, Unilever(Rwanda). Nudging the writer to spend time first working on the product before selling it. This would be defined by striving to be extra; being the only Fanta bottle in a room of Tusker bottles. Eventually as it were, marketing a lame product would be as catastrophic, hence in as much as writers think of selling the product, they should check on the stature of the product first.

A great opportunity indeed for mentorship and networking.

Borrowing from Steve Obuogo’s Speech, here is my wish for you ‘May your clothes be comfortable, your coffee strong and your Mondays shorter….oh and I will add this, may you never miss such amazing opportunities’ See you on 1st May, 2018 for the May session of Mwandishi Boot Camp


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