Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Stories from Things

The book has 10 Simple Steps. Each Step is written like a hands-on guide with examples of ordinary things that people live with. The examples range from ordinary things selected from your living room to the sports bag to the kitchen drawer and dressing table to your heirlooms.Things kept in storage that you are yet reluctant to part with. Things that tell your stories are your memoir.

The journey to writing the memoir begins by becoming aware of the Material World that people build around them over the years. Memories reside in objects. The 10 Steps of the journey are about how to recall your past by selecting and listing the items, displaying and creating conversations around the objects, then researching to fill in information gaps before beginning to write.


  1. Frankie SuttonOctober 22, 2011

    I really enjoyed your book and plan to use your suggestions to put together a history of my father, who served in WWII.

    Frankie Sutton

  2. Hello Frankie:
    Your comment opens an invitation to others who have ‘things’ from their parents who served in wars and would like to write about their dads and moms. I am also thinking of the adult children of soldiers of the Vietnam War and the younger children of the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Stories from the letters sent home, photographs, badges, belts and mementoes that the soldiers may have collected in foreign lands would make interesting stories.

    I feel the children of the soldier parents have much to tell and educate us. They hold the emotions in their parents’ stories from things. Need to read and learn how the wars affected their families and lives in a personal way.

  3. Hello Mr. Somjee. I found you while doing some online research on the Kipande system in Kenya. I love the direction your work has taken since writing the Kipande paper. I am interested in getting a copy of that paper which I can find nowhere- Can you help me? Best Wishes, Lisa Alhende

  4. Hello Lisa:

    My research paper on the Kipande was published by the Institute of African Studies, University of Nairobi, Kenya. Try requesting the chief librarian at the University of Nairobi for a copy.

    The paper on historical material culture shows how an artifact can become an integral part of history of a nation.

    Good luck.

  5. The Museum of Innocence, a novel by Orhan Pamuk,a Nobel-laureate,is a great book to read about objects and infatuation with objects.



  6. I would recommend Sarah Jennings' article 'Elder care: Remembering the memories you’re making' in The Washington Times (Sept 26th 2012). Here are two paragarphs from the article and the web reference: (1)"Photo Albums: No matter what we do though, some things are going to slide from our immediate memory. Sometimes we need prompts in order to remember certain people and events. Sometimes we don’t really forget, but photos can bring memories or aspects of occasions back to the forefront of our minds." (2) "Journals: When we write down information, it is recorded in our minds differently than when we speak or go over it in our heads. Keeping a journal, whether a physical one or a digital version, is a great way to have records of happenings in your life. You can easily double check facts, or re-read entries so you can reminisce. Photos and Journals have the bonus of being a history of your life for other people to look back and remember your life."