‘New’ Set Texts for 2017 (Update)

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The Ministry of Education and KICD may be set to introduce a list of ‘new’ set texts for 2017. The list contains both current titles and some new ones in both English and Kiswahili. Some texts such as The River and the Source, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Betrayal in the City and Kidagaa Kimemwozea have been retained.

In English, Form 3 students in 2017 will study Margaret Ogola’s The River and the Source together with Bertolt Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle. The two set texts were introduced in 2013 as compulsory set texts, and were first examined in the 2014 KCSE examinations.

The extension of the lifespans of these two texts beyond the normal four-year cycle means that KICD and the Ministry of Education have broken tradition that limited a compulsory set text to only four years. This, also, means that the 2018 KCSE candidates will be examined using these texts.

Sources at KICD told myliteraturelesson.com that there was a stalemate on whether to replace the current compulsory novel with A Grain of Wheat by Nguni was Thing’s or In Search of Gold by Joseph Kubanda. There was also debate on whether to replace the current compulsory play with Nikolai Gogol’s The Government Inspector.

It is not clear why KICD and the Ministry of Education chose to extend the lifespans of the current compulsory set texts but competing interests and squabbling seem to have affected the process. It should also be noted that the Kenyan government has, in the recent past, discarded the ‘wholesale’ change of set texts in a bid to make secondary education affordable.

However, some changes are expected to be been made on the optional set books. This will see the exit of Witi Ihimaera’s The Whale Rider and the short story anthology, When the Sun Goes Down and Other Stories from Africa and Beyond. The new books are set to be: The Pearl by John Steinbeck (novel) and The Ten Shillings and Other Stories (anthology of short stories) by Moran (E.A) Publishers.

Meanwhile, the Kiswahili set books for 2017 are also expected to be released. The novel, Kidagaa Kimemwozea will get an extended lifespan while there will be new titles in drama and the short stories. Said A. Mohammed’s Mashetani Wamerudi is likely to be the new play whereas, Maskini Milionea na Hadithi Nyingine by OUP (Ed. By Ken Walibora) is set to replace the current anthology of short stories – Damu Nyeusi na Hadithi Nyingine.


The Ministry of Education has, however, not confirmed whether these changes will indeed take place in the coming year. In a letter dated 7th November, 2016, the KICD Director confirmed that an audit on the evaluation exercise was ongoing.

What do you think about the new titles? Did KICD do a good job in selecting these new set texts? Let me hear your views in the comments.


After weeks of lobbying, by publishers, the KICD finally settled on the list of new set books for 2017. This came amidst confusion and accusations of corruption from a disgruntled group of publishers who felt short-changed in the whole selection process.

The selection panel, finally, settled on retaining The River and the Source and The Caucasian Chalk Circle as compulsory set texts in English. Betrayal in the City has also been retained as an optional text (drama) while there were surprising changes to the other optional texts.

Memories We Lost and Other Stories (Moran E.A. Publishers) was preferred over The Ten Shillings and Other Stories by the same publisher. This anthology replaces the current title, When the Sun Goes Down and Other Stories from Africa and Beyond. Witi Ihimaera’s The Whale Rider has been replaced by John Steinbeck’s The Pearl.

In Kiswahili there was a dramatic departure whereby the much talked about play – Mashetani Wamerudi – was tossed aside in favour of Pauline Kyovi’s Kigogo. Maskini Milionea na Hadithi Nyingine by OUP (Ed. By Ken Walibora) was also shunned in in preference for Tumbo Lisiloshiba na Hadithi Nyingine by Ken Walibora and Said A. Mohamed (Longhorn Publishers). The Kiswahili compulsory set text for 2017 still remains Kidagaa Kimemwozea by Ken Walibora.

The full list of new set book titles and their duration is shown below:




Publisher Duration Status
1. The River and the Source (1994 Edition) by Margaret Ogola Focus Publishers 2013-2017 Current novel
2. The Caucasian Chalk Circle (2007 Edition) by Bertolt Brecht Penguin (Spotlight Publishers (E.A) Limited.) 2013-2017 Current novel




Publisher Duration Status
1. Betrayal in the City (2010 Edition) by Francis Imbuga East African Educational Publishers 2013-2017 Current optional play
2. Memories We Lost and Other Stories (Approved by KICD 2016 Edition) Moran E.A. Publishers 2017-2021 New anthology of short stories
3. The Pearl (Approved by KICD 2016 Edition) by John Steinbeck Bookmark Africa 2017-2021 New optional novel




Publisher Duration Status
1. Kidagaa Kimemwozea (2012 Edition) by Ken Walibora Spotlight Publishers (E.A) Limited. 2013-2017 Current novel (Riwaya)
2. Kigogo by Pauline Kyovi (Kimeidhinishwa na KICD Toleo la 2016) Storymoja Publishers 2017-2021 New play (Tamthilia)
3. Tumbo Lisiloshiba na Hadithi Nyingine by Ken Walibora and Said A. Mohamed (Kimeidhinishwa na KICD Toleo la 2016) Longhorn Publishers 2017-2021 New anthology of short stories (Hadithi Fupi)

Best Romantic Novels Every Teenager Should be Reading

In My Literature Lesson today, I want to look at some of the best romantic novels for teenagers out there. The December holiday is here with us, no school does not mean no reading. Right? Let’s face it; if you have teenagers, the debate over what they should be reading is almost a lost cause. They read what they want (and probably what you don’t want) over the internet anyway. However, the battle is not fully lost if you change your strategy.

We all love romantic stories; teenagers are no exception. The trick here is to ‘point them to the right direction’. A good way to do this is buy them a good romantic novel once in a while in the hope that they will develop the habit of reading for themselves.

For starters, I have compiled a list of the best romantic novels recommended for teenagers in Kenya and around the world. They are not arranged in any particular order though – they are all master classes in my opinion.

  • “Crown Duel” by Sherwood Smith:

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Changing Times in ‘The River and the Source’

My literature lesson today looks at ‘change’ and its influence on the plot and the characters in the novel. To begin with, we need to bear in mind that ‘change’ refers to a situation that becomes different from the previous. Change begins, in this society, when Akoko’s father breaks tradition by asking for thirty head of cattle as Akoko’s bride price. This is two and a half times the normal dowry.

79cf7b2779a96d7e7dcdb55400d5ac67You can get the full plot summary of the text here

Change is also seen when Chief Owuor Kembo refuses to take another wife as was tradition for a chief. He is contented with a monogamous marriage which is against the society’s expectations.

Obura, who is the Chief’s heir, goes against tradition by disobeying his parents’ wishes and running away to fight in the white man’s war in Tanganyika.

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Meet, 77 year-old novelist, Anita Desai

desai, anita
Anita Desai

My Literature Lesson, today, focuses on an amazing lady who has been writing for almost seven decades. For readers of the anthology “When the Sun Goes Down and Other Stories from Africa and Beyond”, the name Anita Desai might be familiar – and it should be – since she is the author of “Diamond Dust” one of the sixteen short stories in this collection. For those who haven’t read the story, here’s a summary of the story. 

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Loss and Suffering as presented in ‘The River and the Source’

In My Literature Lesson, today, I want to focus on a very dominant thematic concern in Ogola’s novel, The River and the Source – Loss and Suffering.

First, Loss and suffering co-exist alongside each other in The River and the Source. Major characters such as Akoko, Nyabera, Owuor Kembo, Elizabeth Awiti, Vera, Becky, Aoro and Wandia all experience happy moments as well as sad times.

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The Caucasian Chalk Circle: Preaching Communism to a Capitalistic Audience

My Literature Lesson.com

I want to start MY Literature Lesson, today with a confession. I must admit that one of the most confusing parts in teaching ‘The Caucasian Chalk Circle’ comes from the onset – the prologue. Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing ‘difficult’ in the mere comprehension of the part (at least I’d like to think not) but the philosophy behind Brecht’s conclusions is what worries me – as a Capitalist.

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Is ‘Twilight Trek’ today’s Exodus?


My Literature Lesson, today, is about one of my my favourite readings from the anthology, “When the Sun Goes Down and Other Stories from Africa and Beyond”. “Twilight Trek” by Nigerian novelist, Sefi Atta, is indeed, a work of art. In this story, Sefi highlights the challenges that Africans face as they attempt to run away from their mother countries in search of a better life in Europe.

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Ever read Margaret Ogola’s best seller?

I will start My Literature Lesson with a look at one of Kenya’s most iconic female writers of our time. The late Margaret Ogola was certainly one of the most prolific writers in East Africa. Her book ‘The River and the Source’ is a household title in many Kenyan homes and schools. The text was first introduced in Kenyan secondary schools in 1998 and recently made a comeback in 2013. In the 2014 KCSE examinations, the book was tested in English paper 2 as an extract from a previously seen text.

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