Hassan Kassim is a Mombasa-based Creative non-fiction writer; longlisted in 2020 for the Toyin Falola Prize, a participant in the Penpen residency program by African Writers Development Trust in conjuction with Culture at Work Africa and the European Union, some of his work appearing in the anthologies resulting from the two. He was a 2020 panelist for the Writers Mingle by Writers Space Africa.He is also Strategic Planning Manager for Global Youth Projects. A champion for the changing African narrative through the need for creating and telling better stories. Affiliated to organisations like Swahilipot Hub and Darul Salaam. He is a YALI alumni and holds his Bachelor’s degree in Maritime Management. Hassan sat down with Nyasili Atetwe on 25th February 2020 to catch up on this writing.
Nyasili: Welcome Hassan Kassim.
KASSIM: Thank you Nyasili, it is good to be here.
Nyasili: I am actually excited and privileged to have you on this space.
KASSIM: I am actually nervous, but the pleasure is actually all mine.
Nyasili: (laughs). You don’t really have to be. Hope you had a good day today.
KASSIM: I did. And I hope it is the same from your side.
Nyasili: Yeah I also had a fine day over here. Now, it is not everyday on this space that I get to talk to a creative non-fiction writer. What is creative non-fiction writing?
KASSIM: I would say creative non-fiction writing is creative writing but inclining towards the truth. Unlike fiction where you can invent and have your narrative take a let’s say, surrealist turn with creative non-fiction, the inventiveness is in the language when at the core, you are telling things as they are.
Nyasili: I would argue that once I create the non-fiction ceases to exist, because with the language I may be distorting or hiding the truth.
KASSIM: Well, there is that element of distortion that you cannot escape but I usually like to say, with creative non-fiction, you distort in a way that does not change the core truth in any way. Especially when writing about other people.
KASSIM: When you move to mediums like film, we talk of combining several characters into one to bring about more effect and that is the sort of distortion you are allowed in this medium I think. Though I am no authority.
Nyasili: Okay. You have been doing creative non-fiction writing.
KASSIM: Just last year, not that long.
Nyasili: Wow. Quite intriguing because in such a short span you have produced quite some work in that genre.
KASSIM: I might attribute that to luck. Though I started late, I have been lucky