"Muthoni’s book could as well be the new age Pied Piper told about in the medieval German legend, playing the irresistible tune, only that this time people are not drawn out and led to destruction, but to an African fairy tale universe with relatable life lessons."
Meet our Positively African Book Club author of the month
Muthoni Kirumba lobs an interesting fairy tale from her imagination, letting it roll to our feet like a grenade dispatched by a highly-trained mercenary. It explodes with an original idea. The aftermath is a memory lingering long after you put the book, The Crystal Ball Fell, down.
A writer of three books (and counting), she is our author of the month of February. Muthoni describes herself as a young lady passionate about entrepreneurship, and training entrepreneurs. Travelling brings her joy. She also admits to loving and being open to challenges– as challenges take us to the next level.
The Positively African Book Club will be discussing her second book, The Crystal Ball Fell, this February.
Muthoni has also authored The Quotist; a book with inspirational quotes and anecdotes about life; and The Start-Up Workbook (Co-authored with Eva Kungu); a guide that teaches entrepreneurs foundation principles on starting and running a startup.
A fairy tale with a casual, conversational tone
Muthoni presents the fairy tale in a casual, conversational tone. She occasionally uses Kenyan street speak, making the story relatable. Reading it feels like you are seated with a friend at a coffee shop; they are telling you a story about their neighbour and juicy events that happened in their neighbourhood—all you want is for them to keep going.
The wit and humour that went into this book will teach you interesting facts about places while ensuring you tip your head backward with healthy laughter. Muthoni attributes the humour in her book to her love for good laughter.
“I like laughing, and therefore wanted to make somebody laugh while reading my book,” she said. The author also makes her mark as a creative writer, using poetic lines in her fictional story and even a self-created African simile, ‘as clean as Rwanda’.
The plot follows angel Merrigold, who is interning in heaven at the Thank You department. A not-so-busy department, for God’s children on earth are never keen on giving thanks. Merrigold’s zing at her job impresses God, who transfers her to the Missions department.
Before she is dispatched to earth to help human beings as their guardian angel, Merrigold drops her celestial name and picks a new one to suit her stay on Earth. She becomes Narianna– a Maasai name with a coastal twist; meaning “the chosen one”. Her experiences on Earth take the reader through stories of lives choking with thematic issues such as emotional abuse, betrayal, and family feuds.
Aesthetics of the book
The African-themed cover design is creative; one glance at it and you can tell that a lot of attention and creativity went into the illustration. A guardian angel (Narianna) features, in her full celestial glory, wings outstretched, and with a glowing crystal ball chain around her neck. She is keeping vigil over human beings: a young man on earth who is in a white shirt open at the collar, arms around two beautiful girls throwing alluring gazes, one of them casually holding a bottle of liquor.
In addition to the eye-catching cover, the book layout and paper quality are reader-friendly. The author goes a step further to include a free bookmark in the book; she says she is a lover of gifts. As a business lady in the gifting industry, packaging is important to her.
A true-life experience creatively fitted into the plot
Most authors of fictional works have come under accusations of drawing inspiration from real-life experiences. To this accusation, Muthoni pleads guilty. She narrates an ugly experience where the vicious sting of betrayal did not spare her.
“The betrayal story in my book [The Crystal Ball Fell] draws from my true-life experience. A close friend I was in business with betrayed me. She stole my money.”
Betrayal hurts and burns deep into our lives, etching a long memory. Such was the fuel that Muthoni burned to drive part of the plot in her fairy tale fiction. She however moved on from the pain. If it’s something at all, now, it’s just a bad experience visible from her rearview. A bad experience she learned to reframe into a learning experience.
“Even though we are no longer friends, I forgave her and moved on. When you forgive, you come to realize that it is more for yourself. You sweep up the broken pieces, mop the mess you were left in, and move on.”
Why a superhero; an angel?
Muthoni’s Christian background which taught her about angels in heaven teamed up with her love for superhero movies, to stoke the idea for The Crystal Ball Fell. Her game plan was to remind readers that we have so many superheroes around us in the form of our loved ones, and mentors.
“I’m trying to tell people that there are so many superheroes around us– our guardian angels. And if we take on a more investigative lens and look deeper within, we’ll realize that our biggest superhero is actually ourselves!”
“My superhero is my dad. He raised me and supported me through my best and my worst, and trained me in business.”
Muthoni concedes that her love for entrepreneurship is inexorable. Apart from running her own businesses, she also trains other entrepreneurs. She is the co-founder of The Entrepreneurial Movement Africa (TEMO Africa), and together with her business partner, Eva Kungu, they train entrepreneurs and equip them with the tools to start a business.
She is also in the gifting industry, running Zola Afrique Gift Shop, physically located in Nairobi CBD, Koinange Street.
“Entrepreneurship is my life,” she explains. “Africa has a gem in entrepreneurship and my purpose is to expose and wipe this gem until it glows.”
She discovered (a need), designed (a solution), then delivered (a programme empowering self-publishing authors)
One of Muthoni’s striking characters is selflessness. She readily shares her knowledge and experiences to help others grow. The Quotist, her first book, came in the throes of darkness and pain. She was going through a tough phase and felt the need to document her experience, as a lifeline to extract her out of the darkness.
“I had a lot of experiences to put down as quotes and anecdotes but never knew how to write the book. Writing a book is a delicate process that needs structure, it’s not just about putting words together. I attended a writers’ class and used the knowledge and inspiration gathered to sit and write my first book.”
An entrepreneur at heart, Muthoni discovered a gap for people like her who wanted to write but did not know how to go about it. She decided to offer solutions by designing and delivering an author's programme she calls the self-publishing author toolkit, on how to write a book. She has since helped and is still helping grow the next generation of authors.
“Self-publishing is a unique journey in itself and requires skill and precision so as to produce a book worthy to match the market standards.”
Responding to whether readers should expect more books from her desk, Muthoni said, “Yes, I will release more non-fiction and fiction books. I love writing fiction because imaginative stories can be used to drive points home. My MBA background and entrepreneurship training skills place me in a better place to use non-fiction to offer contemporary business knowledge. All my books are stories. Even when teaching business, I use stories to give examples.”
The Positively African Book Club will be discussing The Crystal Ball Fell and learning more about Muthoni Kirumba and her journey, on the 23rd of February, 2022, at The Chat Room, Kilimani.
Copies of this fairy tale book are available for purchase at The Writers Guild Bookstore, our partners. They are located at Hazina Towers, Nairobi, Ground Floor, Suite 2A. For inquiries or deliveries, reach them via 0748055879. You can also get a copy at Muthoni’s gift shop, Zola Afrique, at Kenya House along Koinange Street, Nairobi.
Copies will also be available for sale and signing at the book club. To book your slot, contact: 0743-235997 or 0748-055879
You Will Also Love: Ouma Don Collins Tackles Africanity and Humanity in His Book, Morning Shall Come