“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.”
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."