Rejuvenation through revisiting issues of representation


“It is very important to us that we have African authors represented here,” said Wachuka (one of Book Bunk's co-founders), who wants to rejuvenate the collection rather than removing references to white colonialism.

“Book Bunk want to keep that history because it is important — the building wouldn’t be here if it was not for McMillan — but also mix it with our history,” added Koinange (Book Bunk's second co-founder), surrounded by piles of books gathering dust in an archive room.


“The goal is to increase the circulation of stories in the city,” said Koinange. “Libraries are where stories live.”


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Created date

June 18, 2019

Critical Commentary

AO: These quotes by Book Bunk co-founders, published in a Daily Nation news article from August 11, 2018 highlight their approach towards issues of representation in the McMillan library collection. The article notes and I also observed firsthand during a tour of the space in February 2019 that the building mostly contains books from the beginning of the 20th century--well before Kenya’s independence in 1963--with few works by Kenyan authors. However rather than completely overthrow all materials, the co-founders state their interest in "rejuvenating" rather than "removing." The quotes re-posted here emphasize the importance of memory and the role of (re)-evaluating library and archive materials in terms of who they are serving. How to catalogue and add meta-data and add new material for the specific user group(s) that you hope will discover and use the materials you sit on? The co-founders' emphasis on the retention of history -- even if it might be inconvenient or uneasy for some -- is particularly noticable set against a country context where the recent past has been characterized in (critical) public discourse as one of "forget and move on."