Kimenye’s ‘Moses’ still impacts

Saturday September 29 2012

 

By Beatrice Lamwaka

As a reader if you needed stories to connect with, there was Barbara Kimenye and Moses. The Moses series about a mischievous child at a boarding school for troublesome boys was a huge hit for many teenagers.

Kimenye’s books are widely used as readers in East African schools: her best-known books are adventure stories include Moses, Moses and the Kidnappers, Moses in Trouble, and Moses in a Mess. Kimenye, who died aged 82, was one of East Africa’s most popular and bestselling children’s authors. At the time of her death on August 12, Kimenye had over 50 titles of children’s books to her name.

Barbara Clarke Holdsworth was born on December 19, 1929 in West Yorkshire, United Kingdom. She considered herself Ugandan by birth; she was quoted saying that details about her early life “have no bearing” to her career as a writer. In London, she met and married Bill Kimenye, son of a chief from Bukoba in what was then Tanganyika. They moved to his home town on Lake Victoria in the mid-1950s.

After the marriage broke up, she moved with her two children to Kampala, where she had many friends. Kabaka Edward Muteesa II, invited her to work as a private secretary in the Buganda government. She lived near to the palace compound. She developed a talent for storytelling, writing down the tales she told to children. She moved to Nairobi, Kenya, in 1965 to work on the Daily Nation, and later the East African Standard.

In 1986, she returned to Uganda and she spent three years in Kampala before deciding to relocate to Kenya where she spent the next 10 years writing at least one book a year. In 1998 Kimenye finally settled back in London where she was involved in community affairs till her death. She is survived by a son and granddaughter.

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