Wanuri Kahiu is a film director, producer, and author. She has received several awards and nominations for the films which she directed, including the awards for Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Picture at the Africa Movie Academy Awards in 2009 for her dramatic feature film From a Whisper. Wanuri Kahiu is also the co-founder of AFROBUBBLEGUM, a media collective dedicated to supporting African art. Born in Nairobi, Wanuri is part of the new generation of African storytellers. Her stories and films have received international acclaim. Her films screened in numerous film festivals around the world. To date, Wanuri Kahiu has written and directed six films and is working on her second feature-length film. Please enjoy my interview with the inspirational Wanuri Kahiu.
When someone asks you ‘what do you do for a living?’ – How do you respond?
I’m a Filmmaker and Afrobubblegum-ist.
I’m reading Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark.
When you think about your childhood, what book comes to mind?
The first book that comes to mind is Blubber by Judy Blume.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A nun and a doctor.
What do you think your school aged self would think of the present day you?
She would be glad I outgrew my nun phase. She’d be surprised about how happy I am.
If you could wrap up a single book and gift it to yourself as you left education – which book would it be and why?
Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach – it is a beautiful start to any life of reading.
Does your reading have routine? Is there a particular time or place that you like to read?
At night after work or in transit between places.
Which book has had the biggest impact on your career so far? How did it impact it?
The Wooden Camel by Wanuri Kahiu – my first book. Took away the initial fear of writing and publishing.
Do you have any books that you strongly associate with someone important in your life?
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor. The writer is a good friend and it was when the world began to see her, but she had been seen and loved and acknowledged by the people who know and love her and her work well before then.
What book have you recommended the most to friends and family?
The book I’ve recommended most is Two Thousand Seasons by Ayi Kwei Armah.
Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?
I prefer fiction.
Do you think reading is important?
It is vital.
What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 6 months?
The best book I’ve read in the last six months was Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou.
Do you prefer real books or digital books?
I like both.
Name a book that you feel everyone would benefit from reading and explain why.
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry. The plight of difference, belonging and the love of family are themes best explained by Lorraine Hansberry. She explains the reason we need community and the battle for acceptance within and without our walls.
What is the book that you feel has had the single biggest impact on your life? What impact did it have?
Two Thousand Seasons by Ayi Kwei Armah. It taught me about community, collective consciousness, love and service.
Are there any books you haven’t mentioned that you feel would make your reading list?
I’d also include Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
What books or subject matter do you plan on reading in the next year?
Books about joy – how to share, create and encourage joy and what difference it makes. As well as AI.
If you were to write an autobiography – what would it be called?
If I were a shapeshifter.