- An Ekegusii dictionary and two more books were launched.
- One of the books examines gender rights with respect to land access and ownership in the post-colonial era in Kisii.
- The authors address concerns like the production of knowledge—how knowledge is produced in this part of the world as opposed to other parts of the world.
On Wednesday, May 31, 2023, academicians converged at Kisii University to launch great scholarly achievements that have been attained after many years of research and data processing.
Guests from the county government of Kisii, the office of the Women Representative Kisii County, scholars from the university and other local community members were all in attendance.
Dr. Evans Okemwa, Head of Research Kisii University, underscored the impact of research by universities and scholars to society.
Opening the occasion, he noted, “It takes good research to organize ideas into books; the launch would guide you on how and where to publish your work.”
An EkeGusii dictionary and two more books were being launched. They are published by Nsemia Inc. Publishers, a scholarly works publishing company.
Enchengeria, the Ekegusii dictionary, is authored by great authors and custodians of the EkeGusii indigenous language, led by Prof. John Akama, Dr. Evans Mecha, Dr. Peter Otieno, and Peter Getenga.
Prof. Akama is the outgoing Vice Chancellor of Kisii University and a scholar who has authored several other books and research resources.
“Enchengeria is an EkeGusii dictionary that has taken authors over ten years to write. They have systematically engaged the owners and custodians of the Gusii culture,” he said during the launch.
Prof. Akama also added that the earlier Ekegusii dictionaries were oversimplified, unlike this new one.
“From 2009 to 2023, we have been on a journey that required time and commitment. I appreciate the co-authors of Enchengeria for sacrificing alot to reach this milestone,” explains Dr. Evans Mecha, a linguist and Senior Lecturer at Kisii University.
His role in Enchengeria was in the English translations and determining the format of the entire presentation.
“This dictionary will be instrumental in research at the phonetic level. A dictionary should be instituted and run by the university press as other foreign institutions do,” the dictionary comments.
Dr. Otieno, a co-author, noted that the dictionary caters for all readers’ language needs in terms of pronunciation and spelling and that it is written in three languages—Ekegusii, Kiswahili and English.
Another co-author, Mzee Getenga, pointed out that “… in 2007, we had to cruise through the entire Gusii land to capture the Ekegusii diction through interactions with the custodians.
This dictionary has been written to revive the dying Ekegusii culture.”
According to UNESCO, Ekegusii is one of the indigenous languages that face extinction in the next three decades.
The other book was titled Scholarly Research: Writing and Publishing into Journals & Books, authored by Prof. John Akama, Dr. Peter Mose, Dr. Everlyne Mose, and Prof. Margaret Barasa, was another book being launched.
This book discusses what scholarly research entails, exploring writing for scholarly publications such as journals and books.
“We interrogate production of knowledge, through systematic dissemination, to come up with quality work,” Dr. Mose said.
Co-author Prof. Akama added that through research, scholars should try to solve problems in the region, like climate change, poverty, and environmental challenges.
He also said that Kenyan universities are not doing well in research and innovation and that they should.
“What distinguishes a university from other academic institutions is the kind of research it engages itself in,” he said, urging lecturers and other university scholars to dive into research.
The don pointed out that scholars should strive to leave a legacy of promoting an academic culture.
“I appreciate academicians who have done this seminal books that will add knowledge to our society, and as a university we should embrace this academic culture,” Prof. Akama added.
Margaret Barasa is an Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics at the Department of Languages, Linguistics and Literature, Kisii University.
In an interview with Scholar Media Africa concerning the book, she said that it is set to go a long way in helping not only researchers but also students and lecturers in their research endeavours.
The third book that was launched during the great event was A Historical and Cultural Analysis of Women Land Rights in Kisii County, Kenya, 1895-1970.
This book is authored by Dr. Mallion Onyambu, Prof. Nicolas Makana and Dr. Prisca Tanui.
Dr. Onyambu says that it had been a dream for many years to publish this book.
According to her, the book examines gender rights in regard to land access and ownership in Kisii in the pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial periods and women’s response to the same.
She hopes that the book expands people’s knowledge of the same.
Prof. Makana adds that the book covers land issues such as land registration in male names, title deeds, and monetizing of land.
It also focuses on what the government did in regard to land during the post-colonial era.
In the books
During the launch, different scholars also delved into the contents of the literary works, unraveling the hidden truths for the audience to grasp their essence and timeliness.
The discussants took time to briefly highlight what the readers will find in the text done by the authors of the three books.
Discussing the Scholarly Research book, Dr. George Nyandoro, Director of Post-graduate Studies at Kisii University, pointed out some of the concerns addressed by the authors.
“This book addresses issues that other researchers have not addressed. The authors have addressed five concerns: the production of knowledge—how knowledge is produced in this part of the world as opposed to other parts of the world, how it is archived, retrieved and circulated,” he said.
The second concern is the credibility of the knowledge; the credible procedures that knowledge has to go through so that it contributes and speaks to society.
The third concern was on where you publish the knowledge—the credibility of the systems.
“The other concerns the authors focused on were the “frameworks and the writing processes, preparation of a manuscript, publishing, peer review and who qualified to do the review,” he noted.
Research responds to diverse questions.
Dr. Evans Nyamwaka discussed A Historical and Cultural Analysis of Women Land Rights In Kisii County, Kenya, 1895-1970.
“In particular, the book analyzes the relationship between indigenous land tenure systems and gendered relations and the effects of colonial land policies on gendered relations.
Secondly, it examines gender rights with respect to land access and ownership in the post-colonial era in Kisii.
The book also focuses on the women’s response over time to land access, ownership, control, and usage,” Dr. Nyamwaka explained.
Discussing Enchengeria, Mzee Stanely said that through the dictionary, Ekegusii has now been woken up and saved from extinction.
He also agrees that the approaches used by the dictionary’s authors are user-friendly in that they even give examples for easy understanding.
The launch was planned by the School of Arts and Social Sciences (SASS), headed by Dr. Peter Gutwa, Dean.
Being where the majority of the authors lecture, the SASS leadership vowed to continue on the same path and that they aim for even greater heights.
Dr. Gutwa thanked all the participants for attending the event.
“It requires planning to be successful,” he added. They aim to be the best faculty within the institution.
SASS has collaborated with the county government of Kisii and the office of the Women Representative in several developmental-oriented fields like psycho-social support, joint advocacy, research and other relevant fields.
Kisii County Secretary, James Ntabo, representing Governor Simba Arati, appreciated the good work of the academicians in preserving culture and also Kisii University for giving back to the society in various forms.
He said that at the county level, land ownership and registration are still a challenge and urged people to protect Ekegusii from dying.
Mwanyagetinge Heritage Council, a council featuring some of the custodians of the Gusi Culture, congratulated the authors for the good work they have done toward contributing to the Ekegusii Heritage.
They have opened up a museum to preserve the Ekegusii culture.
Some of the Gusii artists who attended the event were happy about the significant milestone in the Gusii community.
To the people
Dr. Bwocha Nyangemi, the master of ceremony, reminded the audience that, “Ekegusii is as superior as any other language. We should be proud when using our heritage language.”
Dr. Matunda Nyanchama of Nsemia Inc. Publishers advised the audience that knowledge published never dies.
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Posing a challenge that Africa, with 12% of the world population, produces 1% of world literature and that Africans should pull up their socks and work even harder, he urged the audience to also develop a reading culture.
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