Thursday, April 18, 2024
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My quest for knowledge in marginalized North Eastern Kenya

By Abdinoor Derow

As a nomad child raised in the rugged, unforgiving terrain of North Eastern province, I was never afforded the same opportunities as other children in the country, let alone those in the bustling metropolis of Nairobi.

As a young boy growing up in a breathtaking hamlet that is domiciled  in the midst of stunningly beautiful mountains that straddle the Ethiopian-Kenyan border, I learned the art of multi-tasking from an early age. Every morning, before the sun had even risen, I would set out to attend school, eager to soak up knowledge like a sponge. But my day didn’t end there. As soon as classes were over, I would hurry back home to pick up my other responsibility: grazing our goats. With a watchful eye, I would lead our beloved animals through the rugged terrain, expertly navigating rocky paths and steep inclines, all while keeping a careful eye on them to ensure they didn’t wander too far.

Nuruddin Farah with Derow

From my earliest days in primary school, I used to write  compositions that left my teachers in awe. They would compete amongst themselves to have the honor of marking my papers, and my compositions were often read aloud in the parade grounds for all to enjoy.

But it was while tending to our goats in the rugged Ethiopian-Kenyan boundary that I truly fell in love with writing. I would find myself scribbling stories on the barks of trees or etching them onto the sandy semi-arid lands. It was as if the barren landscape itself was beckoning me to tell its story, to give it a voice that it had long been denied.

As I grew older and advanced to high school, my thirst for writing and storytelling only intensified. I devoured books of all kinds, from fiction to non-fiction, often reading works that were far beyond my understanding. I remember once getting lost in the pages of Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart,” so much so that I would skip math lessons just to continue reading. My math teacher would scold me for my inattentiveness and call me an “embecile,” but I didn’t care. I was lost in the world of literature, and nothing else mattered.

In high school, I became the school president of Sabunley Secondary.     My passion for writing got proliferated. I would spend hours filling notebooks with stories and poems, losing myself in worlds of my own creation. On top of that,the leadership platform opened doors to intellectuals, mentors, and great personalities. It was during one of these meetings that I met Prof Adan Makina, who recognized my gift for storytelling and encouraged me to pursue it further. “Young man,” he said, “you have a rare and beautiful talent. Your words have the power to change lives.”

Inspired by his words, I wrote my first book, “Pruning the Youngster,” which focused on raising children in the light of Islam. Thanks to the support of Dr. Audi Publishing, my book was published, and I launched it at KiCC, surrounded by politicians, scholars, businessmen, and fellow writers. The success of the launch helped me pay for my university education, where I am now pursuing a Bachelor of Education in English and Literature.

Abdinoor Derow

Kenyatta University has been a haven for my love of writing, providing me with access to a wealth of literary materials, learned professors, and a nurturing environment. With their guidance and support, I have refined my craft, creating stories that inspire, inform, and entertain readers. As I continue on this journey, I am excited to see where my love for writing will take me next, and am forever grateful for the opportunities it has afforded me

Writing is like breathing for me. It’s an activity that I turn to when I need to express myself, to make sense of the world, and to connect with others. When I put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, I feel a sense of flow and rhythm that is hard to describe. It’s as if the words and ideas are already inside of me, waiting to be released into the world. And when I do release them, it’s like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

I am thrilled to share that I have recently completed a new book that delves into the lives and experiences of the youth. As a writer, I am passionate about exploring the realities that young people face in today’s world, and this book is a culmination of that passion. Through my writing, I aim to shed light on the challenges that the youth must navigate, and to celebrate their resilience, creativity, and spirit.

The book explores a range of topics that are relevant to young people, from mental health to social media to toxic Western ideologies ; toxic feminisms, Liberalism,  scientism, and Secularism. Through these topics, I hope to offer insights and perspectives that can help young readers to feel seen, heard, and understood. At the same time, I aim to challenge stereotypes and misconceptions about the youth, and to showcase their diversity and complexity.

Abdinoor Derow


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