Recently, I held an interesting conversation with a literature student from Laikipia University where Remains of Dead Hope is one of the set texts. Here is a transcript of our conversation.
HIM: I am a student at Laikipia University doing English and Literature. I have been reading your text, Remains of Death Hope, which I am suppose to analyze it. Can I please request for you help? I will fully appreciate.
ME: Yes please, anything.
HIM: Thanks for your reply
Firstly, I have searched for your biography and found none. If you don’t mind, tell me about Shilaho Wa Muteshi, the author. Generally all about yourself.
ME: Thank you for your interest. Kindly refer to http://shilaho.com and let me know if there is any additional information you need. There is an about me section on my blog as well, blog.shilaho.com.
HIM: What made you write the novel, Remains of Dead Hope? What was the motivation of behind it, having in mind that you never experienced much of the Moi’s regime?
Okay let me check.
ME: Hahaha, that’s an interesting question. I was born at precisely the same time when Moism was replacing Kenyattaism. I am therefore a Moi person and believe me, the experience of living in the eighties, through the nineties, left an indelible mark on my mind.
HIM: I get you. Still it is the regime which is ruling to date.
ME: An extension of the Moi era, sadly
HIM: You killed Shuma, crippled Alice and never gave the fate of Rele… Does it mean some place somewhere you have the continuation of the text?
But sadly, I can’t blame the rulers, I will blame the people. They are giving out this extension badly; they are living today forgetting of tomorrow.
ME: If you read carefully towards the end, you will realize that Alice regains her mobility. The message being sent by Rele’s reluctance to take over power is that many a times, those young bullish intellectuals who have the solutions to our problems are not ready in themselves to take over power.
And again, I didn’t kill Shuma, it’s just that once the story starts, it controls itself and authors have little or no power to decide the fate of some characters.
HIM: I had thought you should have given him a future, the new independent Diamboland despite him being an amputee. But I get your point. I will check on Alice case
ME: There is always that temptation to intervene, but remember every story takes on a life of its own.
HIM: Yeah. If Kenyans could develop that great desire of a reading culture, then I think the Remains of Dead Hope can heal our self inflicted wounds.
ME: Thank you for that wonderful feedback. Reading is basically not in us. Its not an African thing, its alien.
HIM: Welcome sir. You should direct a movie of that book. Kenyans love watching, it will be of help
I will ask you more as I continue with reading and analyzing it. Thanks for your time.