A film by Chris King & Maia Lekow Production phase: Development
In March 2018, Wanjiru “Shiro” Koinange (writer) and Angela Wacuka (publisher) quit their day-jobs to form the Book Bunk trust, and began lobbying the Nairobi County Government to improve its dilapidated libraries.
Over the next 5 years, their mission is to reinvigorate these decaying relics of the past, into modern, technological hubs of learning and creativity.
While both Shiro & Wachuka each possess an impressive list of professional achievements within Nairobi’s exploding DIY creative economy, their choice to collaborate with local government is a path that few young Nairobians often tread.
Built during a time of colonial segregation, the McMillian library was intended for white use only. It wasn’t until independence in 1963 that Africans were permitted access to the library and its collection. Since then, the complex task of decolonizing the space has yet to be undertaken, and the collection left to decay, dismissed as someone else’s history.
Since signing a deal with Nairobi County, Book Bunk have taken over management of three of Nairobi’s libraries, formed a board, and entered into the research and fundraising phase. While the architectural overhaul of the weathered, junk-filled libraries requires a huge team and financial investment, it is the psychological rebuilding of these spaces that will require the most energy. Thankfully they have a team of homegrown artists, tech-developers, designers, filmmakers, architects and writers, who are brimming to disrupt the status quo, and inject new energy into the intellectual formation of Kenyan society.