At only twelve years old, Babior Newton knew he wanted to write. He followed his passion and wrote on different subjects including playbooks and biographies. His latest biography, The Rise of a Hustler featuring Deputy President William Ruto has been enjoying good publicity, making impressive sales and causing a stir on the political scene.
WoK caught up with the young author to get a glimpse of his life as a million making author and his plans for the future.
Who is Babior Newton and what do you do?
Yes, my name is Babior Newton. I am an author and a businessman.
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When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I first noticed my passion for writing when I was a young boy, about twelve years old.
What genre of writing do you focus on and why?
I focus on writing biographies, because I feel it is a niche that is yet to be fully exploited in Kenyan writing. For a long time we only had two well known locally written biographies, Facing Mt. Kenya and Not Yet Uhuru. That is why I settled on writing biographies.
How many books have you written?
I have written seven books, but I have only published two so far. The two published ones are biographies of former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, titled the Raila Conspiracy, and The Rise of a Hustler featuring DP William Ruto.
Where you do you get information or ideas for your books?
I do research from books and I also interview the people I intend to write about.
Do you usually have to inform your subject about writing a book on them before publishing?
It depends. There are two types of biographies, autobiographies, where the subject is personally involved in the writing of the book, and an authorized biography where the writer sources information from different sources in order to write the book.
So it depends with the type of book I am writing.
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What is your take on Kenyans’ reading culture?
I usually disagree with people who say that Kenyans have a bad reading culture. A majority of Kenyans are learned, therefore they can read and write. Everyone has a preferred topic of interest, and so there is a market for local writers.
To this context, my book on Raila Odinga was sold out and I am almost reaching the four thousand sales mark on The Rise of a Hustler biography on Deputy President William Ruto.
Tell us about the book The Rise of a Hustler
The Rise of a Hustler is a book about William Ruto. It narrates Ruto’s life since his childhood to his current position in politics. He is quite an inspirational figure who has risen from almost nothing to become the person he is today.
When I came to Nairobi in 2009 from the village, interaction between the elite and those from poor households was very minimal. There was a bad stereotype associated with people from neighbourhoods in Nairobi’s Eastlands; Kayole, Mathare, Kariobangi and the like.
William Ruto has given a lot of people leverage to speak their minds freely. Many people have been inspired by his story to drive the narrative that people can come from nothing to something.
What lessons do you hope your readers will learn from the book?
Through this book I want the reader to be inspired. I want them to feel that life is not stagnant, that there exists the possibility to make life better. I actually point out very clearly in the book that hustling is not for the poor or for the rich, as the Deputy President says. Hustling is about everyone playing their part and doing their job to benefit themselves and the country.
The timing of this book was particularly interesting, noting that the general elections are less than 2 months away. Was that intentional?
No, it was not intentional at all. It just happened that this is when the book was ready for publishing and launching.
Do you think the book will affect how people view DP William Ruto?
Yes I do. I say this because this is the first attempt to recruit a rather normal Kenyan to occupy the helm of government as President. I hope the book is going to have a positive impact because I believe William Ruto has a very smart plan for the country.
You speak very highly of him. Are you a supporter of William Ruto?
Yes! I support the Deputy President wholly and fully. This is something I am not afraid or ashamed to say publicly.
After you wrote about the former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, The Raila Conspiracy, you mentioned threats to your life. Please tell us how that experience was for you.
During that time, there was some feeling that was horrifying for me. This is something that is currently with the authorities, so I will opt to not say much about it for now.
You mentioned that you have 5 books yet to be released to the public. Can you tell us who they are about and what we can expect?
Kenyans can definitely expect more biographies from me, including one about Manu Chandaria and HE Wycliffe Oparanya. I want to write about 10 biographies before retiring.
What is your advice for budding writers?
First of all, I have always been against the notion that you can only be successful if you are employed. There is a very big difference in habits between the poor and the rich. When the youth understand that they need to work smart and not hard, they will be in a better situation to make things better for themselves.
Writing pays. For example, when I write 1 biography, I am paid 10 million shillings. Young people must understand that they need to work on productivity, not just working for the sake of.
One of my favorite hip-hop artists, the late Nipsey Hussle always taught about equity, revenue sharing, having to work smart and coming from the hood to build a brand. I have followed his teachings help me navigate business and life in general.
What is next for you?
I am currently coming up with a company called Biographies Inc. I also have plans to empower young hustlers through a credit lending SME with prospects of opening a Bank.
My future is about inspiring people to get beyond what they think they can do and becoming the best of what they can be. We need to understand that we do not need leverage, as we already have it. As Jay Z says, if I can survive here, I can survive anywhere.
What is your advice for the younger generation?
I remember when I was younger, my father, to whom my latest book The Rise of a Hustler is dedicated to, really wanted me to be a Lawyer. I however asked my father to let me be who I am, who I wanted to be. Many years later, I have been able to surpass my own expectations and prove to my father that I didn’t have to be a Lawyer to be successful.
My advice to young people is to follow their passion and think outside the box. My father was sceptical at the beginning of my career, but he is now satisfied as he has seen the fruits of my writing career. I have been able to build him a palatial home through my writing, something I am very proud of.
What is your message to Kenyans as we head to the general elections?
I would advise the youth to know that politicians are politicians. William Ruto and Raila Odinga will most likely work together even after the elections, regardless of who wins. There is no need to fight over politics, because these politicians will end up working together.
I would also like to remind them to vote for William Ruto as the next President of Kenya. (Laughs)
In not so good news, we have seen a video circulating on social media of youth burning your new book on William Ruto. What is your comment on that?
That incident is very unfortunate, but what I can say is you can burn the book, but you cannot burn the message.
Where can readers find your books?
My books are available in bookshops countrywide and on Amazon. The book Rise of a Hustler costs between Ksh. 1,999 and Ksh. 2,999.