Great minds think alike or how to pinch a good title?
Nancy Mudenyo Hunt and I were not sure whether to be upset or flattered when we saw the title of Kenan Malik’s book. Not so Black and White the novel I co-authored with Nancy, who is the founder of the Nasio Trust was inspired by her life & was published in 2020 . Kenan had not heard of our novel so I’d like to tell you more about it. The courageous Rev Dr Charlotte Bannister Parker says,
‘Not so Black and White’ looks at the cross-cultural life of an inspiring young woman Precious, caught between two worlds of the UK and Kenya. The authors manage to weave these worlds together in a proactive way that challenges the reader to take a fresh look at critical issues that are of huge importance in our world today. From gang violence and racial tension in London to arranged marriages, girl child education, and tribal expectations in Kenya. An uplifting and captivating read.
We won’t mind if Kenan’s book creates some publicity for our inspirational novel which tackles relevant and important issues in an accessible and enjoyable way. I’m biased but am not alone…see below. I have to grapple with the complicated situation in the liberal West of people like me not being ‘allowed’ to write in the voice of a Chinese or Indian woman. In the case of Not so Black and White there are two authors and,as Nancy Mundenyo Hunt is Kenyan, that ‘appropriation’ accusation won’t work. We had hoped it would become a good fundraiser for Nasio projects. All the profits go to building the first community library in west Kenya and it’s an insightful read for young adults, as endorsed by librarian Dominique Henderson.
‘ This book is a true page turner. As a librarian I recommend that Not so Black and White should be on the reading list of everyone over the age of 14! It is a beautifully written eye opener – a brilliant example of how real life should be written in fiction. What I love about it is that it doesn’t down play difficulties but it shows that you don’t have to be shackled by your past. You can hope to change your own life and change the world for the better. ‘
It is currently on Amazon Not So Black & White . It was published for the purpose of fundraising for the work of the charity the Nasio Trust. My publisher Claret Press gave time free of charge to edit it but the copyright belongs to the Nasio Trust so that proceeds from funds raised can go towards the building of the first community library in the Mumias District of west Kenya. If you agree can you tell your friends, book groups or review it on Amazon or Good Reads ?
If you have read my memoir, you will understand that this working class girl from Luton would not have had the life I’ve enjoyed without access to Luton Central Library. I know that access to books and knowledge will open up the world to the children of west Kenya.
THE OXFORD TIMES: The book to read after the Black Lives Matter Protests
LOVEREADING: Timely, pacey and personal
KORKY PAUL : (African born illustrator )
This is a powerful love story between a not so black lady, Precious, and
a not so white gentleman, Adrian, played out against a sharply described
backdrop of racists bigotry, changing society and outdated, cruel traditions.
An engaging read, in a style simple, direct, and unadorned, (Sylvia is a newspaper journalist) but this does not detract from the deeper message of this story, most appropriately titled
Not so Black and White…
DAI RICHARD (documentary film-maker)
Precious Mukosi swaps rural Kenya for cosmopolitan London, only to find her new home as tribal as the one she left behind. Not So Black and White is a personal journey and a love story and a fable of modern living. Precious becomes embroiled in family feuds, gang wars, a courtroom drama and much more. Themes of racial, sexual and class prejudice are finely woven through the story – to great effect. An intricate tale simply told, it’s a great read for teenagers and young adults.
PROFESSOR JOY HENDRY
I’ve just finished reading this book on my ebook machine and it is wonderful. I am recommending it to all my five book groups!!
REV’DDR. CANON CHARLOTTE BANNISTER-PARKER (Oxford University Church)
Not so Black and White’ is a fascinating book which looks at the cross-cultural life of an inspiring young woman caught between two worlds of the UK and Kenya. The authors manage to weave these worlds together in a proactive way that challenges the reader to take a fresh look at critical issues that are of huge importance in our world today. From gang violence and racial tension in London to arranged marriages, girl child education, and tribal expectations in Kenya. An uplifting and captivating read.
The origins of Not So Black and White go back to 2014 when Nancy Mundenyo Hunt and I first met. For sixteen years I was the chair of an organisation in my village called KOA. Every year since 1969 the village had raised money for an overseas project we selected by vote. One of the three charities suggested for 2014 was submitted by the Nasio Trust. I loved the project but was not sure that it would secure enough votes to win because it took some understanding. The proposal was to raise £20,000 to build not a hospital ward or a pre-school as we had for other charities but to construct tanks in which to grow an algae called Spirulina. The packed hall understood our motto was helping people to help themselves. The spirulina would not only provide a healthier diet for the 440 orphans fed at the educational day centre Nasio had built but would also produce quantities for sale commercially to help the project sustain itself.
The project was selected and Nancy and I met on many occasions during that year of fundraising events. At the end of the year KOA had raised £27,015. The project was delivered quickly and efficiently creating local employment too. I realised we were working with an inspirational woman and I asked Nancy to join a select group of castaways whom I had sent to my mythical island of Oxtopia. For ten years Oxford Castaways was a monthly magazine feature published by The Oxford Times. In the interview I asked Nancy when and where she was born. Like Precious in Not so Black and White , she immediately told me where that was but she also said,
“As a girl I was not valued — and that is probably why my father failed to register my birth. Some years later, my sister Betty decided that I needed a birth certificate and she registered me. She conjured up the date of January 10, 1970, although nobody knew for certain when I was born. So I have the choice of being either five years older or five years younger! I was named Ishmael after my grandfather, but Betty felt that I should have a girl’s name and, on the birth certificate, I am Nancy Ishmael Ndula.”
Two years later Nancy confessed that interview was the first time she had talked about her childhood to anyone. Out of that realisation developed the concept of the two main characters in Not so Black and White. An inspirational charity founder who has transformed young people’s lives in England and in west Kenya and a journalist.