Is this the genius teacher every Kenyan deserves?
"Research is sexy."
A mononymous star like Adele or Beyonce. But perhaps that could be an opinion coloured by hero-worship. According to Potentash, he is also known as Morris K. In which case, the numerous awards and nominations ought to give weight to the belief.
Owaahh is a chronicle. It is the place you visit when you want clarification on Kenya’s history that was blatantly overlooked in your history textbooks. Or perhaps it was remixed to suit a narrative that the ruling class considered “subversive”. It is also the home of some of Kenya’s greatest stories.
The historian from few-know-where is notorious for his anonymity.
When asked about it by Pulselive.co.ke, he succinctly replied, “I like the shadows. Plus I want my stories to stand by themselves, but also I just like the shadows. Anonymity suits me.”
Owaahh in the beginning
Admirable to have your persona take a backseat to your work. It may be a burden to some but for Owaahh, his stories come first. This level of craft had to have been developed from a young age.
Owaahh explains, “My old man was a teacher of English and History, so I had a lot of books hanging around the house. He was my first history buff, and the breadth of knowledge contained in his books ignited my deep interest in history.”
Beyond the access to history from his father, the writer admits to a tenacious curiosity. Admitting to a fascination with the operatic sagas of the Old Testament in the Bible and the “apocalyptic fiction in Revelation”.
Does then, Bible + History Teacher for a father = Owaahh? Not quite. He ended up studying Forensics in school due to the romanticism of criminal investigations by shows such as CSI.
But in a way, he still applies what he learnt, "I ended up doing the same thing, only differently. Research is sexy! Research, connecting the dots, is an absolute thrill."
A bit of a genius even, he has been active for eight years writing about travel, sex, murder, culture, business and current affairs. He is also known for his sharp tweets, conceding that he does get some form of enjoyment from insulting people who deserve it on twitter.
The impact Owaahh (the website) has had on the historical narrative in Kenya is part of an ongoing campaign by a privileged few who have access to these archives which mere mortals like us, can only beg scraps from.
Along with accounts like History KE, the political, social and economic landscape is being slowly reshaped in accordance to what actually happened in the past rather than what our teachers watered down, shoved down our throats and graded us based on how well we can remember what they said.
Too Early For Birds
This has led to a series of plays called Too Early For Birds that are being ran by Ngartia the Storyteller and Abu Sense. Referred to as a storytelling show, it focuses on, “Kenya’s forgotten, untold, overlooked, sections of history. Although we do tell stories that have not yet appeared on the blog and expand greatly on the ones that have been published.”
Following the success of their numerous showings, it’s easy to deduce that the Kenyan audience is hungry for the actual truth about their ancestors. What is being kept from them. What is being manipulated to suit an unseen power.
Inasmuch as Owaahh (the website) is there for public consumption, he also lurks on Twitter like a villain from a spy novel ready to drop bombshells upon an unsuspecting public. One of the most explosive ones being about former President Moi’s Devil Worship Commission of 1994 to start a witch hunt on Freemasons. And another one about the Miguna’s deportation being a climactic culmination of the ongoing infighting within the Orange Democratic Movement.
He has also written articles that have stopped Kenyans in their tracks. With the most praised one being about the late Nicholas Biwott.
Nicholas Biwott is not a good man caused so much furore that Owaahh had to take a sabbatical from social media.
He has even admitted to some level of fear every time he shares a story, “All of them make me quake a bit. Only a fool wouldn't feel that when doing some of the things I do. But I am here to tell stories, and that's what I will do.”
The Owaahh podcast
It is perhaps this single minded devotion to truth that has people clamouring for Owaahh’s next move. Demands range from podcasts to books. But he was shy about the next step saying, “We could do a web series, and a podcast, and animation. There are so many things we could do. Plus there's been that immense pressure to write a book, so that's in the plans too.”
Is it at all possible to be such a leading light in research- joining a virtual hall of fame along with the author’s favourites of Zarina Patel, Wahome Mutahi, Yusuf Dawood, John Kamau- and have no vices? Perhaps. Since he only admitted to a disturbing propensity for bananas and rum.
Owaahh has been described by peers as “one of the greatest writers of this generation” and “stubborn in a nice way”. He is admired by all and venerated by most. Having no favoured historical period, his treatment of Kenyan stories with equality, reverence and the fact that he is a damn fine storyteller makes it very clear that he is the history teacher every Kenyan deserves. When asked on whether he would actually become a history teacher, he said, "Maybe not as a profession but creating suitable content for different generations in school."
JOIN OUR PULSE COMMUNITY!
Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or: