Once in a while I do break the rules and write about people who aren’t necessarily Kenyans/Germany, nor in Germany/Kenya and this is one of those times. One of our contributors sat with her and wrote this piece.
Two years ago, Mary Okeke, a Nigerian nurse who currently lives in Barcelona, Spain, started a blog called “Mary Okeke Reviews”, where she reviews African Literature. Her motivation to start the blog was a gradual process, which started when she realised her English was deteriorating because she wasn’t using it to communicate. She enrolled in an English course and knew that in order not to forget, she had to keep practicing her English language skills. This motivated her to start writing a blog. She chose to write exclusively about African Literature because she loves reading African literature and she did not find blogs or websites that provided information about African Literature.
She terms writing reviews about African books, as a lifestyle. Her lifestyle is about what she likes and not exclusively about the writers. The blog is solely her opinion. She reads more than 40 books a year, which she purchases second hand from different online shops.
The aim of her blog is to make African Literature accessible to everyone: both Africans and the rest of the world. Okeke says it is important that Africans should also read their own stories. This is because for most people of African origin the way we learnt how to read books in a literature class made most of the students loose interest in reading books after high school.
Her style of reviewing books is so that she kindles a reader’s interest in books and to make reading fun. She uses simple language and an easy style as if she were talking about buying shoes. She says, that the response to her blog has been positive with people around the world visiting it.
Future plans for her blog:
She hopes to turn her review blog into an online library of information by classifying books so that people who are interested in African Literature can easily find and access them when they visit her blog.
Okeke says, she would like to assist upcoming African writers promote their work through her reviews. She hopes that with this blog she will open up Africa for people who are interested in seeing another picture of Africa.
Asked whether she intends to be a writer, she says not at the moment but possibly in the future. However, her aim is to read as many books as possible. She says that her blog has changed her by reaffirming her African identity. Her favourite writers are Buchi Emechata, Chimamanda Adichie, Chinua Achebe and Chuma Nwokolo among others.
Check out her site: Mary Okeke Reviews.