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Dishon Kweya

By the time I set out to begin my freshman year at the University of Nairobi, I had firmly made up my mind to study History and Literature. But soon it became apparent that if I wanted to remain eligible for the government scholarship and retain my place at the only university in Kenya, then I had no option but to revise my priorities in order to be accommodated within the very rigid subject cluster structure at the university that time. History became the casualty of the hard decisions I had to take. However, I retained some links with History, attending seminars in the History Department whenever I could find time. After receiving my MA in Literature at the University of Nairobi, I sustained this interest well into my university teaching career. The opportunity to reconnect with History in some way came when I was thinking about the topic of my PhD research. To take care of my interest in History, as well as other interests that I had developed while teaching African, Caribbean and African American literatures at Egerton University in Kenya, I decided to focus on oral history and ethnic identity. It was while trying to understand the strategies of reading the archive of oral memory and processes of composition and performance of narratives of origin by diverse oral historians from one community that I got interested in the nature and composition of the archive itself – as well as the anxieties generated by particular procedures of imagining it. As I completed my PhD research at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2011, I was conscious of lingering questions around what happens when silenced narratives of irresolvable issues which are layered over in the archive of oral memory resurface in liminal moments of postcolonial transition.