Meet Nairobi’s most ambitious culture curators. The Tokyo-born Wachuka’s background is in publishing some of Africa’s leading literary voices, while Koinange is a writer, arts programmer, and podcaster. Together, they co-founded Book Bunk, an organization that restores and repurposes some of Nairobi’s oldest libraries and installs new ones in public spaces.
Their spot: “The McMilan Memorial Library is our newest labor of love,” says Wachuka. “It was opened in 1931 and has somehow remained trapped in the past. We’re transforming this space into a modern library and a public arts center.”
Lunch spot: “Roasted Truth at the co-working space Ikigai. The grilled cheese, salad and soup combo is the perfect lunch, and they also make the best coffee in town,” says Koinange. “The goat pepper soup at Valley Arcade’s Mama Ashanti is a staple, “ says Wachuka.
Going live: “The Elephant on Kanjata Road for concerts. I will also go anywhere the Too Early for Birds crew are putting on shows. They bring history alive in breathtaking ways, exploring everything from newspaper headlines to Kenyan idioms,” says Wachuka.
Fashion fix: “Angelsmile House of Design—Wambui Kibue creates such masterpieces. Check out Kiondos, which are handwoven baskets made from sisal and wool, my favorite Kenyan-made accessory,” says Koinange.
Kenyan pride: “Right now, Rafiki, a groundbreaking film by Wanuri Kahiu,” says Koinange. “Our athletes bring me tremendous pride. They excel against so many odds,” adds Wachuka.
State of affairs: “There’s something shifting about the way that Nairobians are imagining their city and I am thrilled to be among the people who are concerned about the utility of public spaces,” says Koinange. “On the flip side, our creative economy is under the threat of unreasonable and uninformed censorship. This is worrying.”
If they were mayor: “We’d would institute a regeneration plan focused on the city’s arts and culture as not only channels for public consumption, but key drivers of an economy whose demographics are mostly young and who more than ever consider the arts as a viable career path,”says Wachuka.