“If I write any frequently, it is because you pals inspire me to do so,” Kenyan poet Redscar McOdindo once said. “If I like sharing, it is because you pals deserve all that is mine and much more. I’ll try and keep it up (if it is any good) and better still, share more frequently (if that is any possible).”
His thoughts spoke of a poet fond of adulation, nagged by self-doubt and under pressure to impress. He was responding to a comment from a Facebook friend “amazed” by his latest poetic note, Please Come Home, Daddy, about a runaway father deemed a member of violent sect Mungiki without trial.
That was in January 2011. Two weeks later, the piece won Redscar the $20 Fern Poetry Prize.
Fast-forward to August 2016 and Redscar, now 28 going on 29, was in the big league of poetry, shortlisted in one Kenyan and two continental prizes after a blitz of entries. He was up for the Writivism Festival’s $500 Okot p’Bitek Poetry in Translation award, the Babishai Poetry Festival’s $700 accolade and, in his home country, the $1,000 Nyanza Literary Festival (Nalif) poetry prize. He stood to earn $2,200 in two days if the judges ruled in his favour.