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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 September, 2003, 22:35 GMT 23:35 UK
'Pornographic' book sparks Kenyan row
Chinua Achebe
Chinua Achebe denies his book 'A man of the People' is pornographic
A book by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe has caused outrage in Kenya, where a parents' group has described it as pornographic.

A Roman Catholic group, the Kenya Parents Caucus, has demanded that Mr Achebe's book, A Man of the People, and two other texts in Kiswahili be removed from the school syllabus.

The group particularly objects to two sections of the book - including one in which a wealthy man boasts about his sexual prowess and displays a condom after taking a young girl to bed.

The Kenya Parents Caucus is urging the ministry of education to remove the texts from its syllabus.

Mr Achebe has rejected the accusation of pornography and said the Catholic Church had previously awarded him a medal for his writing.

Eyes wide shut?

Mr Achebe has drawn support from the publishers and academics, who say the sex scenes are central to the book and argue the purpose of literature is to mirror life rather than set moral codes.

"Should we close our eyes and pretend that these things do not happen?" asks the Managing Director of East African Publishers, Barrack Muluka.

"The book warns the children that this is likely to happen to happen to them.... we are blowing the whistle in broad daylight," he says.

University lecturer Barnabas Githiora describes the Church's stance as hypocritical, saying children were more corrupted by the free flow of information from the Internet.

An influential Kenyan newspaper columnist says that the call to ban the book could be linked to a new wave of political influence that the Catholic Church seems to be enjoying.

Writing in the Sunday Nation, Gitau Warigi notes that President Kibaki is a member... so too is Education Minister George Saitoti and a powerful coterie of cabinet ministers.

He says it is absurd for anybody to imagine Chinua Achebe being a writer with a dirty mind, adding that the Church's moral police could utilise their energies better crusading against the lewd publications that litter the newsstands and which any teenager with a few pennies to spare can snap up.




SEE ALSO:
Kenya to censor porn
06 Aug 03  |  Africa
Country profile: Kenya
23 Aug 03  |  Country profiles


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