On November 6th 2020, Nyasili Atetwe talked to Moses Abukutsa on Stuff Writing
NYASILI: Welcome Moses Abukutsa
ABUKUTSA: Thank you for having me do this interview
NYASILI: I am excited to have you too.
ABUKUTSA: My pleasure
NYASILI: Hope your day was good.
ABUKUTSA: I had a great day.
NYASILI: Fine. Fine. That’s great. You are one of the silent members of the group, though your contribution on everything is topnotch. Can you unpack for us this Moses Abukutsa?
ABUKUTSA: (laughing)I’m afraid I’m silent on all groups(Whatsapp)I am in. But Moses Abukutsa studied English Literature. He plays tennis and armature chess. He reads a book a fortnight. Moses writes poetry and fiction. He started writing way back in high school.
NYASILI: Great. Where did you study literature?
ABUKUTSA: I studied at Masinde Muliro University
NYASILI: How does your day look like?
ABUKUTSA: Okay my day starts with prayer because I’m a believer in Christ. Then I prepare for work my teaching lessons. Afterwards I do read and make sure I write something everyday.
NYASILI: You teach?
ABUKUTSA: I do teach. In fact, I’ve been teaching for a while now.
NYASILI: Okay. You teach literature I presume? Which school is this?
ABUKUTSA: Yeah I teach Literature and English Language. I teach at Lwanya Girls’ in Busia.
NYASILI: I presume studying literature at uni and teaching it at high school gives you a head start as a writer
ABUKUTSA: Not really, I think it something that gives you exposure. The greatest headstart for a writer is having a relentless interest to write which has propped me up.
NYASILI: Okay. What kind of writer do you call yourself? A poet, playwright?
ABUKUTSA: I write fiction and poetry. I have not considered a preference but fiction gives me elaborate room to experiment.
NYASILI: And you are widely published as per your profile I see!
ABUKUTSA: Thanks for the complement. I have had the privilege and it has taken time.
NYASILI: Congratulations on that. How do you come up with your writing ideas?
ABUKUTSA: I fetch my ideas from meditation, past experiences, present experiences and the search for a voice in the world.
NYASILI: Must you write? Why do you write?
ABUKUTSA: I have this belief that I was born to write, to excite my mind with writing and in the process have a voice in a generation, not that I have any lofty dreams, but I must write to a generation because if I do not I will kill something in me and life is sacred.
NYASILI: Important point there. What would you consider as being a success in writing?
ABUKUTSA: Success in writing in my opinion is to have yourself and people find meaning in your writing.
ABUKUTSA: They could find themselves in the writing or people around them or situations they can relate to and therefore end up expanding their view about life, perhaps find a new perspective on something to expand their knowledge. In short successful writing is that which builds and expands knowledge and people knowing who they are.
NYASILI: Alright. As a prose writer whose writing do you look up to
ABUKUTSA: I’m a classics guy and so I appreciate the writing of two Russian greats the most: Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. But sometimes the influence of Achebe competes with that of these two Russians.
NYASILI: Any kenyan writer whose works moves you?
ABUKUTSA: I think I appreciate Makena Onjerika.
NYASILI: Okay. What about her works strikes you?
ABUKUTSA: Her prose is like mellifluous honey flowing down the throat and it is poetic, close to what I do. I have a liking for language structure in writing at the expense of other aspects, I must own up.
NYASILI: Well well; i love her writing too.
ABUKUTSA: It is great prose.
NYASILI: Indisputably so. There are so many ills in our society today. This year alone, in this corona age, about 180k teenage pregnancies were reported in the media. The corruption levels both at high and low levels is just insane. Tribalism is the silent epidemic troubling this nation, which incidentally erupts with every election cycle. What is the role of a writer in all these?
ABUKUTSA: These ills are all a result, I think, of a society that is unequal and materialistic. If a writer can illuminate the effects of these inequality and materials such that they inspire a national dialogue that involves all levels of power. Then the writer is doing what, in my opinion, much they can do. Otherwise, with all other odds against the writer’s reach of influence, that is as much as they can do and feel their contribution’s worth.
NYASILI: Writers like Ngugi and Micere, were focused on colonialism or neo-colonialism. What subject should our generation of writers should be preoccupied with?
ABUKUTSA: I believe writers should focus on the corroding effect of materialism on the soul of the individual. These obsession with material things is one of the main reasons for human conflict. Materialism has created selfishness and unrealistic expectations on many people.
NYASILI: Okay. In his book, Art of Character – David Corbert says, “every writer reproduces a bit of themselves in their writing’. Does this apply to you?
ABUKUTSA: (laughs) I plead the fifth. Anyway, I can say if you know my life you will find a piece of me in some of my characters especially the protagonists.
NYASILI: At what point when you are working on a piece do you reach and conclude now this is good to go – let me submit it.
ABUKUTSA: Usually, the moment I read and re-read and the story starts playing in my head such that I can recall it from the starting sentence to the end.
NYASILI: This comes after how many drafts
ABUKUTSA: I have never taken count but usually I write a story for a month and not less. So it could approximately be after about 30 drafts.
NYASILI: 30 drafts!!! That’s awesome.
NYASILI: For how long have you been on the space?
ABUKUTSA: I’ve been around for a year now. Maybe and a few months.
NYASILI: How do you think we could spice up things around here at WSA-K?
ABUKUTSA: I have this idea of an AGM and a membership fee for all members.
NYASILI: Expound about the AGM please…
ABUKUTSA: My idea is that members can annually meet to bond and exchange ideas in a selected day of the Year.
NYASILI: That would be cool. I think we can make it happen.
ABUKUTSA: Sure we can.
NYASILI: Where do we find your work?
ABUKUTSA: I have works on; Kikwetu online, Praxis online, African writer online, Afritondo, Khusoko.com., Storymoja, Kalahari review.
NYASILI: Your parting shot.
ABUKUTSA: My parting shot is that we are a great people, we have a future,Kenyan writing is one of the best on the continent and our contribution to literature is worth it. I love everyone here and God bless the work of your hands, literally.
NYASILI: Thank you for Abukutsa for your time. I wish you well in your endevors, particularly your writing
ABUKUTSA: The pleasure has been all mine.
Compiled by the contributing editor, Paul Wambua