Magunga Williams is a 27 year old jobless half-toothed goon from Alego Siaya (Karuoth Clan), who made the mistake of quitting a seemingly promising legal career to become a writer. Four years later, he sometimes sits on his couch and wonders where the years went and how he managed to survive them. Sometimes he hawks books. Sometimes he takes pictures. In other words, he is in the business of stories.

  1. You are known for your creative writing blog How and why did you start blogging?

I started blogging during the long holidays after my first year of campus. I used to write on a platform called My Opera, which by now has already shut down. That was in 2011, I believe. I had no idea what a blog was until I saw a classmate of mine on My Opera and asked him to show me how to log in. He used to post about cars and I was like, “Can I also open mine and write stories?”

Just before they shut down, My Opera sent us a notification, and that is when I moved to wordpress and then to my own domain.

That’s when I started blogging. But please do not ask me when I started writing, because I also don’t know.

  1. You are a full-time blogger. How did you come to this decision and what has the experience been like? You also curate other writers writing on your blog – what is that collaboration like and why did you choose to go in that direction? What can your readers expect in the next 2 years?

Small correction. I am a full time writer. But yes, most of my content is published on my blog. But I also write/have written for a number of publications here and there. I think there is a difference, yes?

I have a dream to grow the website to a larger scale. And that will need that I make it about more than just myself. That is why I have guest writers. I am rather specific about who I let in, though. That is why I stopped allowing random submissions. Sometimes I solicit and on most occassions when I do, I like to pay them for it.

Hopefully in two years, the Magunga will be your first stop for your creative writing dose in the East African region.

  1. You a run a successful online bookstore, Magunga Bookstore, what was the genesis of this business? What have been some of the challenges and highlights of running it?

It is really just politics, when you think about it. There was a glut in books from all over the wold and just a handful from Africa. So my partners (Abigail Arunga and David Mabiria) and I decided to start an online bookstore for African reads. Since Nairobi real estate is of the devil, we could not afford a physical shop, that is why we are exclusively online.

Being online only is problematic for some people. E-commerce has not really picked up in Kenya as much as people like to believe. Good work from Africa is often hard to source, especially the ones from down South and up North.

I mean, The New Yoker feature has to be one of the most exciting moments in our time. However, when I think further about it, the highlight of my day is meeting people offline and they say they are our happy customers. Even just a text message or a tweet or a 5 star review on our Facebook Page. It is every single one of those moments that makes all of this worthwhile.

  1. What is something that our readers may be surprised to learn about you?

Look, about two years ago a waitress at a restaurant in town heard my friends call me by name, then she turned and asked, “Are you Magunga?”

“Yes I am.”

Then she said “Hhhhmm. OK.” in a tone that sounded disapproving, yet well meaning.

“Wait, what does that mean?”

“I don’t know…Your’e just so……underwhelming in person.”

You can imagine what that does to a man, eh? Underwhelming is not exactly anything a man would like to be described as by anyone. What she meant was that I do not look like my writing. For the longest time, I did not care about how I look and sound until such incidences occurred.

People read me and then form this persona in their heads. Some think I am older (like 35), others imagine me with a full beard and gruff voice and extrememly tall, imposing musclar frame.

I am not any of those things in person, sadly. I am underwhelming.

  1. Name 3 women you are inspired by and why?

(a) Mother Karua. On some days I call her mom. I mean, the fortitude and stubbornness in this woman should be bottled and sold to every Kenyan so that we survive this Jubilee Government.

(b) Chimamanda Adichie. Listen, I know this sounds super corny, but it is true. There are a lot of things I did not know before I started interacting with her work; both fiction and non fiction. I do not always agree with her sentiments, but what I like is how she challenges norms and stands her ground.

(c) Jaber. If you know, you know. If you do not, then Google her.

  1. What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Do not believe the hype. You’re only as good as your last story – Oyunga Pala (circa 2013)

  1. What do happiness and success look like to you?

Me in a house full of the smiling faces of my family, a lot of money, and a filled up passport.

  1. What is your favourite thing about being a blogger in Nairobi?

All the free things!

So, I do three things. I tell stories, sell books and take pictures. Every one has an account of its own. Do not ask me why, it is what it is.









Facebook Profile: Magunga JaKaruoth

Facebook Pages:
The Magunga
The Magunga Bookstore


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