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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

new WIP — with overseas and interactive features

Hello, Mary Bowman-Kruhm here. I am about to fly to Kenya and am delighted Marc is giving me an opportunity to share what I discover there with you. Because of the present volatile political situation, I’m a little nervous. But, as a former high school teacher and special education administrator, I’m familiar with the unexpected! Along the way, I’ve also written over 30 books for toddlers to young adults.

Researching a biography of the Leakey family of anthropological fame took me to Kenya in 2004 and I immediately fell in love with the country. Three years ago my husband and I decided to financially help a bright young man, Jackson Minteeng Liaram, continue his education. Jackson is a Maasai warrior, who, in their brilliant red and blue tunics, spear in hand, often visually represent the other 99% of Kenya’s population. After receiving a poignant snail mail letter thanking us for our help I felt I had to write his story.

On this trip I’ll spend several days interviewing Jackson, now a nature specialist at a camp in the Maasai Mara, a vast wildlife reserve where humans are guests. Jackson respects traditional Maasai values but also quests for information about the larger world. Last spring after a day herding cattle, Jackson sent me an e-mail from new laptop computer, “’Now I’m with you in the Internet. Two worlds!’” Jackson has agreed to answer your questions about either of his worlds. Post a question as a comment and it will be forwarded to him.

As for me, I plan to spend several weeks mucking around in a palette overflowing with ideas:

·        Concern that many American young people are comfortable in an electronic world but not a natural world and can’t, like Jackson, seamlessly move between both.

·        Wonder at how Jackson has leaped several millennia from a pastoral world with no electricity, no running water, and a monetary system based on cattle into a Westernized 21st century.

·        Questions how Kenya’s history sent a country considered stable with a growing economy into a trajectory of chaos and violence.

·        Reflection on the Maasai culture, with its emphasis on living in harmony with nature and leaving a small environmental footprint.

Your comments definitely welcomed!

Comments

  1. Jeannine Atkins says:

    Hi, Mary, You are a brave woman. Of course you are “a little nervous.” I hope all goes well for you.

    As for Jackson, I’d like to know what he eats. And a
    are the cattle he herds considered part of the wildlife on the reservation? What becomes of them?

    I would love to hear explitly how Jackson would compare his life to his father’s life.

    Good luck to all of you!

  2. Linda Trice says:

    I’m so glad Mary is writing a book (with Jackson’s help) about the real Kenya. My picture book, KENYA’S WORD is about a girl named Kenya. So many readers were diappointged that it wasn’t about the country, Kenya. Now I’ll have Mary’s book to steer them to.

  3. Linda Trice says:

    I’m so glad Mary is writing a book (with Jackson’s help) about the real Kenya. My picture book, KENYA’S WORD is about a girl named Kenya. So many readers were diappointged that it wasn’t about the country, Kenya. Now I’ll have Mary’s book to steer them to.