In the heart of Nairobi is a building you’ve probably passed by a number of times but never entered. Tucked into a cosy corner in Banda Street stands the oldest library in Nairobi and
second oldest in Kenya.
So ancient is this building that not only is it crowned a historical landmark, (The thing was opened in 1931 if you can imagine) but it also happens to be the only building in Kenya protected by its own Act of Parliament.
Now this may not be interesting to some but as a law major myself I find this tidbit of information fascinating.
It shouldn’t be surprising that this act, titled The McMillan Memorial Library Act Cap 217 of 1938, provided that the library was for the exclusive use of Europeans.
However, as luck (and liberation)would have it, the library was bequeathed to the Nairobi City Council and was opened to the general public in 1962.
Don’t worry, that’s the end of our history class for the day.
Now that we have that out of the way, onto the good stuff. Imagine it’s 1938.
The library has just been completed and it’s the grand opening.
Everyone who’s anyone (by that Imean the white elitist who once ran this town) are coming out to play, dressed to the nines.
We’re talking glitz and glamour.
Now imagine, out of the blue, a sea of black folk dressed to the nines in Afro-fusion galore.
The gall! The drama! This was the idea behind one of book bunks stellar events titled ‘A night at the Library.’
Hosted as part of their annual fundraiser gala, this event was a re-imagining of the first grand opening of the library with a twist.
This time, the African Kings and Queens crashed the party and took back what was ours. Power to the people!
These annual galas are just one of the ways that the organisation seeks to create awareness and raise funding for the amazing work they are doing for the community.
– The NBO Litfest –
Speaking of community, enter the NBO lit fest. This event is a fever dream for any art enthusiast out there.
For a period of four days this week (August 24th -August 27th 2023) Book Bunk will be hosting their second edition of NBO Lit fest.
There will be Music, stories, books, master classes, movie screenings, you name it, they’ve got it. This one of a kind festival will see great artists like Kennedy Ombima (King Kaka), Policarp Otieno (Fancyfingers), H_art The Band, Julius Owino(Juliani), Wanjiru Gitu(Fena Gitu), to name a few.
For the book buffs,authors such as Damilare Kuku (Author of Nearly all men in Lagos are mad) and Yvonne Adhiambo (Author of the Dragonfly Sea) will also be there.
The great thing about this show is that they also kept the kids in mind with programmes such as movie screenings and story telling sessions with Wangari the storyteller. Basically, there is something for everyone.
With their first festival hosted in the heat of the pandemic, their virtual session was a great success marking the 90th anniversary of the Mcmillan Memorial Library.
This year, the theme is Mtaa Narratives which is a call to explore cultural memories and stories that ground us right here in our home ground (Stories za Mtaa).
Book Bunk invites you to “experience African art, stories and culture in a dynamic platform that aims to amplify voices, inspire creativity and ignite discussions that challenge conventions and inspire change.” (Quote from Book Bunk). And the best part? It’s absolutely Free!
The festival this year will be held at the McMillan Library, The Kaloleni Library and the Eastlands Library.