Logline Two ambitious Kenyan women are on a mission to revitalize Nairobi’s libraries. But before realizing their dream, they must navigate the precarious and patriarchal politics of local government, and the problematic colonial history from which these libraries were built.
Synopsis In March 2018, Wanjiru “Shiro” Koinange (writer) and Angela Wachuka (publisher) quit their day-jobs to form Book Bunk 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 an often dysfunctional local government is a path that few young Nairobians dare to 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 partnership agreement 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 contribute their skills and knowledge to disrupt the status quo, and inject new energy into the intellectual formation of Kenyan society.