91-year-old gets birthday treat from children with surprise relaunch of book 49 years later

91-year-old gets birthday treat from children with surprise relaunch of book 49 years later

For her 91st birthday, Rebeka Njau's two children organised a special treat for their mother.

They flew from abroad and organised a relaunch of a book she wrote 49 years ago.

According to Hana Njau-Okolo, who lives in Atlanta, Georgia, there has been renewed interest in Ripples in the Pool, a book that was first published in 1975.

"An editor reached out to me enquiring whether they could acquire rights to publish the book," says Hana. "Luckily, my mother has her documents in order and the new edition finally came out this year."

Though it has been out of mass circulation for a number of years, Ripples in the Pool is a recommended text in many universities around the world.

"The book was studied in the Black and Puerto Rican Department, when I was in university, in the US, a thing that earned me lots of friends," adds Hana.

When the book finally came out, Hana and her elder brother, Morille Njau, who lives in the UK, decided to make the unveiling a special treat for their mother. 

Hana, who is an events organiser in the US, reached out to the Literature Department of the University of Nairobi, who were too willing to take up the event that took place at the Multimedia library of the Alliance Française.

To underscore how seriously they took the assignment, the department, led by its chair, Prof Miriam Musonye, had the traveling theatre of the university to enact certain parts of the book.

"My mother was besides herself with joy; she was so excited, she could not stop talking about the launch days after," says Hana.

Ripples in the Pool covers the period immediately after Kenya's independence and how Africans were coping with the new dispensation, having emerged out of the harsh colonialism period, where most of them, had their lands dispossessed.

It is in this reality that Selina, one of the major protagonists in the book, emerges. As a single woman working as a nurse in Nairobi, Selina seeks the good life. To augment her earnings, she moonlights as a fashion model as well as a 'man pleaser'.

Rebeka is a woman of many firsts. She was the founding principal of Moi Girls, Nairobi, a national school.

“I am thrilled to bits to have been able to attend our Mother’s book launch. She continues to be such a great role model for me throughout my life,” says Rebeka’s son Morille. “I hope that I can achieve even half of what she has achieved at 91 years of age.”

Rebeka had been among the pioneering students of Alliance Girls High School. 

Rebeka worked as a communications coordinator for the National Council of Churches of Kenya.

Even at 91, Rebeka Njau is not about to retire her famous pen. Hana revealed that she is currently working on her newest book.


Wananchi reporting Rebeka Njau

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