Kenyan student gets published in the US

At age 23, Levi Cheruo Cheptora is a published author. He has penned a novel and an anthology of poems regardless of tedious juggling with formulas as a Pure Mathematics student at the University of Nairobi.

Cheptora’s titles, The Bitter Pills, a novel, and poetry anthology, Songs from My Soul, are in bookshops in America and can be read Online.

He points out that his tough upbringing in Machewa village at the foothills of Mt Elgon, Bungoma County, inspired his writings after his parents divorced.

“I must admit that the tough upbringing by divorced parents, lack of both fatherly and motherly love; and the love of a helpless grandmother who brought us up single-handedly, must have sowed a seed of writing, whose fruits are ripening today,’’ he says.

But, this aside, the violence that rocked Mt Elgon some years back, and the insecurity in the area also played a role in influencing content of his literary works.

The Bitter Pills is on the Sabaot Land Defence Force (SLDF) and touches on the ensuing mayhem.  He boldly takes the bull by the horns and speaks his mind on a matter that would remain a wart in the history of the region and Kenya.  In the book, he gives a first account of what happened during the bloodletting period of 2006-2008, where he fearlessly mentions suspects, including political leaders.

“I was lucky to be at home during that time.  I was waiting to join university. I saw everything.  I have narrated it all in the book as a first witness,” says Cheptora.

Because of the content of the book, rubbing shoulders with ‘who is who’ in the country over the Mt Kenya killings, local publishers snubbed his works, which were later published by the America’s Dorrace Publishing Company. His publishers pay a glowing tribute to the Third Year student at Chiromo Campus, describing him as “a true young Kenyan whose compelling love for justice and fairness for all has necessitated the writing of his work”.

His 274-page Songs from My Soul is a collection of narrative poems about life, love and politics as inspired partly by his background. He cleverly shares the icy tales of fate, which he has encountered in life.

“I started asking myself a thousand and one questions about human nature: What makes them tick? What gives them the inspiration to love not, to hate yes, and to helplessly succumb to the raging wrath of jealousy? This rhetoric did become the pillars of my writings,” he adds.

For this mathematics student, to have such a creative work, he had to struggle with his inner desires, the inevitable pressure from friends and relatives; and the naked truth that the present life state demands flexibility and creativity. Apart from the two published titles, the soft-spoken writer has finished writing another book that he says could be more controversial. The Greatest Thieves in Kenya, with a Kiswahili version Yajapo Yapokee in the offing. And another novella, A Letter to Mr President is also soon reaching the market.

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