Teen novel with obscene language not approved, KICD says after uproar on social media


Teen novel with obscene language not approved, KICD says after uproar on social media

Storymoja, a Kenyan publishing company that endorsed a controversial South African novel ‘Blood Ties’ as suitable for teenage readers has defended themselves following backlash online.

A statement from their Managing Editor on Wednesday said the title was listed in their catalogue for high school readers and above.

“While this particular title was not submitted to or approved by KICD, most of our books have been validated and recommended across various age groups….but read out of context might be misconstrued,” the statement from Monity Odera reads.

This comes even as the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development KICD warns that: “Not all books in the market are approved. That is why teachers and parents are expected to rely on the Orange book to buy right books. We have previously responded to worrying content whose origin was books from foreign countries. This book is not approved.”

Storymoja however maintained that they recommended Blood Ties because it tackles social ills such as substance, child and sexual abuse; bullying; peer pressure and the effects on children.

The Kenyan publisher insists that ‘Blood Ties’ further guides readers on steps to take should they find themselves in a similar situation.

The teen novel by South African author Zimkhitha Mlanzeli on Wednesday elicited sharp reactions from Kenyans online.

Pictures of one of the pages sent Kenyans into a frenzy. Part of it reads: “Masi turned and looked at the blade. Whitey was mad, everybody knew that. He would kill them both right there in the dark corner and nobody would ever find them.”

Another section depicts the book’s characters using obscene words.

“We regret the alarm and anxiety caused by a section of the text that was used in a particular scene involving a violent robbery incident,” Storymoja said adding that they are currently reviewing it.

A spot check on the Storymoja website on Thursday morning revealed that ‘Blood Ties’ is still available for sale even as some Kenyan bookshops pulled the book from their shelves.

Text Book Centre (TBC), that has several branches across Nairobi, on Wednesday said they have asked Storymoja to recall the controversial book.

“Text Book Centre believes in upholding high moral standards and raising generations of responsible citizens who are not only educated but also ethical..We shall not be stocking the above book,” the bookshop said in a statement.

Cover2Cover, the South African company that published ‘Blood Ties’ in Cape Town five years ago, says their books are aimed at persuading young people that reading can be a pleasure.

“Cover2Cover is proud to have discovered Zimkhitha Mlanzeli’s literary talent through its partnership with FunDza,” the company said in a post last year.

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Story By Benjamin Muriuki
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