Read Weep Not, Child by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o Online


The great Kenyan writer's powerful first novel Two brothers, Njoroge and Kamau, stand on a garbage heap and look into their futures: Njoroge is to attend school, while Kamau will train to be a carpenter. But this is Kenya, and the times are against them: In the forests, the Mau Mau is waging war against the white government, and the two brothers and their family need to deThe great Kenyan writer's powerful first novel Two brothers, Njoroge and Kamau, stand on a garbage heap and look into their futures: Njoroge is to attend school, while Kamau will train to be a carpenter. But this is Kenya, and the times are against them: In the forests, the Mau Mau is waging war against the white government, and the two brothers and their family need to decide where their loyalties lie. For the practical Kamau, the choice is simple, but for Njoroge the scholar, the dream of progress through learning is a hard one to give up.First published in 1964, Weep Not, Child is a moving novel about the effects of the infamous Mau Mau uprising on the lives of ordinary men and women, and on one family in particular....

Title : Weep Not, Child
Author :
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ISBN : 9780143106692
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 176 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Weep Not, Child Reviews

  • Zanna
    2019-02-18 19:54

    Described in many reviews as 'a simple story', this book only appears so, I think, because it's written in an economical, limpid style reminiscent of folk tales or anecdote. The narrative follows Njoroge as he grows from a small child to a young adult, locked in his time like a balloon in the wind, and we most often see things from his perspective, but sensitive critique of his naïve and sometimes ignorant viewpoint, and those of others, is implicit throughout. When Njoroge finds 'Lucia' a nice name, unlike, say, 'Mwihaki', I began to suspect the influence of white supremacy. This was confirmed a few pages later in the reflections of Njoroge's mother, Nyokabi:It was to her the greatest reward she would get from her motherhood if she one day found her son writing letters, doing arithmetic and speaking English. She tried to imagine what the Howlands woman must have felt to have a daughter and a son in school. She wanted to be the same. Or be like Juliana. Juliana... must surely have felt proud to have a daughter who was a teacher and a son who would probably be flying to foreign parts soon. That was something. That was real life. It did not matter if anyone died poor provided he or she could one day say 'Look, I've a son as good and as well-educated as any you can find in the land.'I can imagine Buchi Emecheta reading this passage and responding by writing The Joys of Motherhood. Njoroge loves school, but there is an ominous sign: he asks Nyokabi to tell him a story, because when he had to tell one in class, 'all eyes were fixed on me - I lost the story'. The idea that one might lose something in the process of education is hinted at by Njoroge's self-comparison with his brother Kamau, who has trained as a carpenter and become strong and skilled. Njoroge becomes more and more convinced of the benefits of education and his whole family makes sacrifices to support him in continuing despite bad turns of fortune. However, the only effect education seems to have on Njoroge is that he becomes more deeply invested in Christianity and its pie-in-the-sky-by-and-by optimism. The content of this education cannot be very substantial. The only lessons shared with the reader are the first, exciting lesson in which the engaging teacher Isaka shows the beginner class the alphabet, and an early English class where the class get into a muddle conjugating the phrase 'I am standing up'. This confusion about who is standing up in the language of the coloniser could be a hint. Who benefits from learning this language? Njoroge believes that knowledge of English is the measure of a person's education and that 'our country needs us' (ie educated people), but when his best friend Mwihaki asks him what for, he has no answer for her; he has no idea what concrete benefit will come from his education.This problematisation of language creates a tension, because the book is written in English, clearly rendering Gikuyu dialogue into that language. The tension pulled me back from the text, sometimes into the self-questioning mode that I have when reading in translation.In contrast to Njoroge with his naïve optimism and lack of a concrete plan, Kamau works hard at his craft and brings in money to support the family. Kamau has a stock explanation for selfish and exploitative behaviour; privileged people want to keep their advantages. While the narrative seems to generally affirm this, it is nuanced particularly within the black community. Character development is usually brief (as in folk- or fairy- tale) but the careful positioning of each person gives room for imaginative extrapolation. My general impression of the book is an openness that invites elaboration and reply. For example, the racist portrayal of the Indian people, deliberately shallow and ignorant as that of an outsider looking through a lens clouded by white supremacy, invites reply from the Kenyan Indian community; M.G. Vassanji takes up this invitation in The In-Between World of Vikram Lall and I explore their dialogue a little in my review of that book. The child Njoroge accepts a sweet from a friendly Indian boy, and is rebuked by his mother. This is clearly a missed opportunity, limiting his experience and perspective.The violence of the struggle negatively impacts the whole family; they cannot avoid becoming involved. First the African people call a general strike, but this is put down violently and the man who owns the land Njoroge's family lives on is made a Chief. This means he is on one hand a stooge of the increasingly abusive and violent Serikali (colonial government) and on the other, further empowered to serve his own interests. A curfew is imposed, people are taken to the woods and killed so that the police can declare 'victories' over the Mau Mau, and the white authorities torture those accused of dissent. Mau Mau threats of violence terrify the community, but all of the physical violence comes from the Serikali.Central to the book is the historical and cultural framework from which the Mau Mau struggle emerges. This is introduced right at the beginning with the gossip between men at the barber's, contextualising the community's shared standpoint. Later Njoroge's father, Ngotho, a peaceable man, tells a creation story, which causes his son, Boro, Njoroge's much older half-brother, to get angry with Ngotho and his generation for losing their ancestral, god-given land to the white colonists. Boro was conscripted to fight for the British in WWII alongside his beloved half-brother Mwangi who was killed. Throughout the book, Ngũgĩ links Boro's motives and feelings to his experience in the war. Ngotho himself was drafted in WWI, but African conscripts were not armed then, but took part as porters and so on, so his experience was different. Ngotho believes the prophecy that foretold the coming of the whites and their departure will be completed; he waits for the white man to leave. The younger generation is disillusioned and critical of this attitude, leading to uprising. Ngotho's story reflects a cosmogony joining people to land believed by the Gikuyu people. In the present context of racialisation, this cosmogony is interpreted as racial, with negative consequences. Thus, racial essentialism is critiqued even as it fuses with traditional knowledge. Much worse though is the coloniser's theft: Ngũgĩ contrasts Ngotho's feelings about the land with that of his white employer. Mr Howlands loves the shamba, but his attitude is clearly colonist: “he alone was responsible for taming this unoccupied wildness”. Ngotho 'felt responsible for whatever happened to this land. He owed it to the dead, the living and the unborn of his line, to keep guard over this shamba'Later, Mr Howlands says 'This is my land' and the author comments 'he said it as a man says “this is my woman”'. I read this as another invitation to extend critique of the proprietary attitude towards the body of the land to the same attitude to the bodies of women. Decolonisation must be feminist! (view spoiler)[The ending, in which Njoroge is rescued from suicide by his two mothers, seems to bear this out. (hide spoiler)] Having read Wizard of the Crow I am happy to say that this feminist strand in Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o's thinking became more explicit and developed in his later work.Not a just a simple story; a deep, complex, troubling, provocative and influential work.

  • Irene
    2019-03-08 02:58

    I read this book as a child growing up in Liberia, West Africa. I remember loving the language and the rich culture that very similar to my own. I look forward to reading it again as an adult and growing a deeper appreciation for it.

  • Solistas
    2019-03-18 00:03

    Το ντεμπούτο του μεγάλου Αφρικανού συγγραφέα προσφέρεται για αρκετές κ διαφορετικές ματιές. Κατά μια έννοια θα μπορούσε ο αναγνώστης να το δει ως μια εκδοχή του Ρωμαίου κ της Ιουλιέτας κ να έχει δίκιο. Το βιβλίο το διαπερνά η σχέση του νεαρού αφηγητή με την κόρη του πιο πλούσιου μαύρου της περιοχής, ενός προδότη του τόπου του. Λόγω της εφηβείας των ηρώων κ των φυλετικών διακρίσεων που χαρακτηρίζουν τις ιδέες του βιβλίου, θα μπορούσε επίσης κανείς να το διαβάσει ως μια άλλη εκδοχή του Όταν Σκοτώνουν τα Κοτσύφια. Τα βιβλία άλλωστε του Thiong'o φέρουν για τον τόπο του την ίδια βαρύτητα που είχε για τους Αμερικανούς το μέχρι πρότινος μοναδικό βιβλίο που είχε εκδώσει η Lee. Τέλος, το πολιτικό σκέλος-σχόλιο του συγγραφέα (ο κόπος των ιθαγενών κι η εξίσωσή τους με τα ζώα της φάρμας κτλ.) θα θυμίσουν αρκετά τα Σταφύλια της Οργής του Στάινμπεκ. Όλα τα παραπάνω είναι σωστά.Το βιβλίο το έπιασα μόλις είδα ότι στο εκδοτικό πρόγραμμα του Καστανιώτη για το 2017 υπάρχει η μετάφραση του Petals of Blood, του βιβλίου δηλαδή που οδήγησε το συγγραφέα σε φυλακή υψίστης ασφαλείας για ένα χρόνο. Το ξεκίνησα στο αεροπλάνο για Λονδίνο σε ένα PDF της κακιάς ώρας (αν κολλήσεις να διαβάσεις κάτι το διαβάζεις κ σε χαρτοπετσέτες) κ αρχικά στραμπούληξα τη γλώσσα μου με τα ονόματα των ηρώων (Ngotho, Njoroge, Mwihaki κτλ.) κ έβγαλα τα μάτια μου στην οθόνη του reader. Αλλά για καλή μου τύχη πέτυχα σε ένα καλάθι αυτή την όμορφη έκδοση της Penguin με το ηλιοβασίλεμα κ την κατατοπιστικότατη εισαγωγή του Ben Okri, καθώς κ το πρώτο μέρος της τριλογίας-αυτοβιογραφίας του συγγραφέα κ τα πήρα τρέχοντας κ τα δυο (8 λίρες μαζι!!!).Το βιβλίο έχει έντονα αυτοβιογραφικά στοιχεία όπως φαίνεται κ απ'τις πρώτες σελίδες της αυτοβιογραφίας του που έχω διαβάσει κ εστιάζει στην περίοδο που οι κάτοικοι αυτού του κομματιού της Ανατολικής Αφρικής εξεγείρονται απέναντι στους αποικιοκράτες Άγγλους κ τους μετρημένους στα δάχτυλα γαιοκτήμονες-συμπατριώτες του. Το ιστορικό πλαίσιο δίνεται επαρκώς απ'τον Thiong'o κ αν ο εκάστοτε αναγνώστης βγει απ'το πρόγραμμα του κ ψάξει την ιστορία για μια πιο σφαιρική αντίληψη είναι θεμιτό. Πάνω απ'όλα, το βιβλίο γοητεύει με τον απίθανο ρυθμό του κ σε γραπώνει στο δεύτερο μισό που κορυφώνεται η ιστορία. Από κει πέρα διατηρείται σε βασικές προβληματικές, πιστές στην ηλικία του πρωταγωνιστή (η δύναμη της οικογένειας, της εκπαίδευσης κ της νιότης, πως το πολιτικό μπορεί να έχει χειροπιαστές επιπλοκές στην καθημερινότητα του καθενός, η σημασία της συμμετοχής κ της αντίστασης κοκ) κ συνολικά είναι ένα βιβλίο ιδανικό για νεώτερους αναγνώστες που ψάχνουν σφαιρικές λογοτεχνικές κ ιστορικές γνώσεις.Έχω διαβάσει πριν άπειρα χρόνια το Matigari με το οποίο είχα ενθουσιαστεί τότε κ ίσως να το ξαναδιαβάσω. Είναι σίγουρο ότι ο υποψήφιος Νομπελίστας (είναι μάλλον δεδομένο ότι όταν η Σουηδική Ακαδημία αποφασίσει να δώσει το επόμενο βραβείο σε Αφρικανό συγγραφέα αυτό θα πάει στον Thiong'o) θα απασχολήσει τους αναγνώστες της μεταφρασμένης λογοτεχνίας κ πολύ καλά θα κάνει. Προσωπικά, το αναγνωστικό πρόγραμμα μου για το 2017 θα ήθελα να έχει κ άλλους αφρικανούς κ ασιάτες συγγραφείς. Να δούμε αν θα τα καταφέρω.

  • Jamie
    2019-03-03 21:13

    A well developed African story of hope and disappointment set in Kenya during the Mau Mau uprising. Ngugi weaves fiction and nonfiction well to provide both depth of characters and storyline. What I admire most is the sense of realism injected into the story, never a perfect character, rarely an ideal scenario coming to fruition, no perfect ending.

  • Mahima
    2019-03-13 02:56

    3.5 stars.Read without placing it in relevant contexts, this book will seem nothing special. The writing reminds me of R. K. Narayan, which if I refuse to think beyond that would put me off. But there's a reason why the writing of Ngugi's first English novel and R. K. Narayan's work in English is so simple and direct. There's a reason why their stories aren't all that special. They bring to life the first generation of what was to evolve into proper postcolonial literature. There's power in that. Maybe it's the lit student in me talking, but you gotta value that power. You just do.

  • Francesco
    2019-03-14 00:05

    Una storia cruda e triste del rapporto conflittuale tra l'uomo bianco e la popolazione locale del Kenya. Il protagonista è un bambino che vuole istruirsi e "riscattare" pacificamente la propria identità culturale - ma in realtà nemmeno quello, lui vuole solo istruirsi. Chi vuole riscattare la popolazione Kenyota è il padre, e il fratello che aderisce a un gruppo di guerriglieri.Finirà male per entrambi.

  • Libros Prohibidos
    2019-03-14 01:04

    Os seré sincera: no conocía esta historia. Las palabras «Mau Mau» despertaban un recuerdo tímido en mi cabeza, de algo quizás aprendido por encima en el colegio, pero la cosa no iba más allá. Y tras la lectura y comprensión de todos los sucesos, una no puede evitar una enorme tristeza, tanto por no conocer la historia con anterioridad como por el hecho de que se trata un relato de privaciones y vejaciones constantes, contado por un experimentado narrador con una voz impecable y un gusto exquisito para escribir. Wa Thiong’o escribe de una forma muy directa, sin sutilezas, pero exprimiendo al máximo el monólogo interno y la sencillez de las intervenciones de los personajes para que el relato adquiera un estilo muy cercano pero cortante, familiar pero rompedor. Crítica completa:

  • Ahonsi
    2019-03-07 01:11

    This book was a jumbled mess that had a lot of potential. The writer's style was too simple, and the direction of the story was horrible. That's as much critique as I can muster. It was a waste of reading time.

  • Dora Okeyo
    2019-03-08 02:06

    Like most people faced with challenges-this book is all about them and how much dreams are blurred by brutality and how the only people who you think have lost it all still gain the strength to hope for another day.

  • Eric
    2019-03-01 19:54

    This is a very good and short novel that addresses the stress and anguish of late colonialism in Kenya. This text is rich on many levels as it deals with hope, despair, injustice, redemption, etc. I'm going to teach this in both African history and World History.

  • Jill
    2019-03-06 01:54

    Bleak. Very bleak.

  • Isabel
    2019-02-28 23:07

    A slim book set in Central Kenya during the struggle for independence. I thought it exquisite and devastating. Highly recommend.

  • Lindsey
    2019-02-26 23:14

    *spoiler alert!Ngugi gives us an intimate account of how real people and families were effected by the Mau Mau Rebellion in Kenya in the 1950's and how the same interests of preserving land rights got cast as vastly different and racialized interests, resulting in the deaths of many. Following Njoroge through his coming of age,we see him first as a young boy who believes that through education and learning, he can save his country, then as a devout Christian who sees himself as God's chosen one to deliver his people from the evils of the war, and finally as a disillusioned young man who can't even hold on to the woman he loves and attempts suicide on the last pages of the novel. Ngugi's ability to interweave the stories of Mr. Howlands, a white expatriate originally from Great Britain, but who claims Kenya as his home, Jacobo, a black land owner who "sells out" and supports the white cause in the conflict, and Ngotho, a traditional Gikuyu man who believes the prophecy of his people long ago that blacks will reclaim ownership of the land that was stripped from them when white European settlers arrived. Ngugi complicates the story by focusing on two generations involved in the battle over land rights. Njoroge's brazen brothers Kumau, Kori, and Boro, are hostile, reckless supporters of the Mau Mau, while younger and more innocent Njoroge remains steadfast in his ideas that education is the answer. While his brothers support strikes and Boro becomes a plotted murderer, Njoroge remains in school, excelling in his class. Mwihaki, the gentle daughter of Jacobo, becomes the unfailing companion of Njoroge from a young age, but because of the differences in their families' beliefs and the ultimate deaths of both of their fathers, they cannot be together in the end. Ngugi fills the rest of the novel with other archetypal revolutionary figures such as the barber and Teacher Isaka who both get assassinated because of their fundamental belief that the Gikuyu people should claim right to their land, as their ancestors did. At the same time; however, we get an intimate portrayal of Mr. Howlands and how he passionately sees Kenya as his home, the land rightfully his. Surely, he believes "the blacks" to be "savages" and intends to pit them against each other to better his cause, but he is human just like they are, desiring to hold his fragile family together as it fractures like Ngotho's family. The background of World Wars I and II in the novel help to establish the historical context of the Mau Mau Rebellion. There existed an entire generation of Kenyan veterans who were not given proper compensation for their role in helping the British fend off the Germans and other world powers, thus fueling their desire to take back their rights. The first half of this novel is less palatable to me than the second; perhaps because Ngugi is setting up the context and the players. The second half of the novel traces the mental and ideological downfall of his major players and is much more affecting to read. I did feel a hint of Achebe's Things Fall Apart at the end when Njoroge tries to commit suicide by hanging himself from a tree, but Ngugi's new contribution to this ending is that Njoroge was never of the generation who valued tradition and the ancestral spirits, pointing to the fact that colonialism inflicts potentially brutal consequences on younger generations as well. The fact that Njoroge does not go through with the act could either point to a hope that he will go on to serve as a savior to his people or a scathing critique that the newer generation is not as courageous and masculine as its father's. I was searching for more female voices in here, and though Ngugi gives Ngotho's wives Njeri and Nyokabi some space in which to speak about the tragedies of the war, and Mwahiki occupies a lot of lines in the novel, this is what is really lacking for me as a reader. Certainly there were female revolutionaries who supported the rebellion, but we don't see any of them here.

  • Dan
    2019-03-12 20:55

    this was my third novel by ngugi, and possibly my least favorite? don't get me wrong, it's a worthwhile read, but i vastly prefer his later a grain of wheat (amazing!). weep not, child seems like a sketch by comparison. that said, ngugi's light story-telling touch works as well as ever-- he renders his characters with a willful naivete that would almost remind me of kurt vonnegut, were it not so free of snark (and full of wonder). the characters-- though likeable-- are a bit one-dimensional, and i was disappointed at the glimpse of white, colonial kenya (which was one of the big strengths of a grain of wheat). the novel begins to come alive towards the end, but the plot points hurry along too quickly. had there been another 50 pages of extrapolation-- and a bit more psychological inquiry-- this could have been a real masterpiece. as is, it's a nicely-paced book that asks a lot of interesting questions and lays the foundation for what continues to be an interesting career.

  • Gregory
    2019-03-14 02:07

    It may be in part due to my inability to absorb the particular setting of African colonialism, but it seems to me that the whole thing about African literature falls short of what it claims to be. It always reminds me somewhat of Hemingway hypes. You hope for the heap of what seems to be treasure passed down from old time, only to find some overrated, overused junks. It certainly has some value in cultural aspects and flaunts unique perspectives that need to be told. Like many of Wa Thiong'o's books, this novel also throws many questions about Kenyan Independence and the Mau-Mau, especially in psychological angle. For that matter I think that's something worth reading.

    2019-02-23 01:54

    I am not a fan of Classics but the synopsis caught my interest. It was good in the beginning but then the character soon became dismiss able as the pages turned. My main problem with this book was the lack of characterization and how silly it came across. There was absolutely no direction or anything that motivated me to continue reading. This book only emphasized why I do not read many Classics, cause most of the time I am disappointed with the execution.Oh well it was "okay" but I doubt I would be reading novels by this author.

  • Michael
    2019-02-27 19:58

    I am not a fan of Classics but the synopsis caught my interest. It was good in the beginning but then the character soon became dismiss able as the pages turned. My main problem with this book was the lack of characterization and how silly it came across. There was absolutely no direction or anything that motivated me to continue reading. This book only emphasized why I do not read many Classics, cause most of the time I am disappointed with the execution.Oh well it was "okay" but I doubt I would be reading novels by this author.

  • Peter
    2019-03-14 02:00

    This is written in a pared-down though poetic style that makes it feel mythic, though the story is very much set in a particular place and time (Kenya, the Mau Mau uprising). It's in some ways a simple story--Romeo and Juliet maybe, as Ben Okri writes in the intro--but in other ways rather complex in its renderings of various divisions in Kenyan society of this period. Even the white characters who wind up on the side of repression and torture are granted their humanity--which in this novel means sadness, disappointment, and loneliness.

  • Johan Thilander
    2019-03-20 01:17

    Behöver läsa mer av Ngũgĩ innan jag kan säga något om honom - denna var så tydligt en debutroman. Fina punkter och stunder men med många skavanker, särskilt vad gäller karakterisering.Skildringen av förtryck fick mig att tänka på en av Farrokhzads formuleringar: Det enda språk du kan fördöma förgripelsen på är förgriparens språk / och förgriparens språk är ett språk som uppfanns för att rättfärdiga förgripelsen.

  • Zach
    2019-03-10 00:07

    The writing style is simple, and Thiong'o is a good storyteller. That said, it seemed disconnected at times and huge gaps occur that you have to fill in yourself. I was hoping to get a bit more information about Kenyan culture from this, but it didn't seem to be what I was hoping for.

  • Vilis
    2019-03-04 02:57

    Nestāv ne tuvu "A Grain of Wheat" manās acīs: pārāk švaki ieskicēts, pārāk paļaujas uz melodrāmu un arī tēli šeit ir daudz plakātiskāki.

  • Wangui
    2019-03-14 02:18

    Clearly a first book- after reading Ngũgĩ's childhood memoirs this book clearly had a lot borrowed from his own experiences growing up.

  • Clark
    2019-03-09 20:09

    One of my favorite parts about reading African fiction is getting introduced to pieces of history that I know nothing about. No disappointment on this front as the novel is set against the backdrop of the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya, which I previously knew nothing about. Very interesting to get a taste of this conflict and a sense of what was at stake.The brevity of the work keeps it (to some extent) from reaching the depth that I would love to see, but it's well executed overall. One of the most interesting facets of the novel is something that I often think about: assimilation dynamics when two cultures come into contact. When we think about cultures mixing in our own worlds, there are two elements at play. First, there is the inevitable loss of cultural identity that comes in successive generations. Second, how do power imbalances affect each culture involved? Eventually, if one culture is dominant over the other, cultural identity is bound to be lost in each generation of the less dominant culture. Individuals are forced to either assimilate (providing safety by blending in) or risk identification as an aberrant element within society (carrying its own pitfalls).In this novella, the main character Njoroge is getting a western education with the express purpose of bringing pride to his family and helping to elevate their station in the community. However, though he aspires to lead his nation to freedom one day as a result of his education, he actually winds up draining resources from his family and becoming neutered in his ability to effect social change to benefit his family. His education makes him more docile and focuses heavily on teaching Christianity. Meanwhile, his brothers form a sharp contrast to Njoroge, functioning as more militant and ultimately more effective agents of social change in the community, though with significant detriment to their personal fortune and safety. Njoroge winds up intellectually and spiritually depleted, but alive. Interestingly, Thiong'o suggests that assimilation cuts both ways. The son of a major white character encounters Njoroge late in their education and states that he doesn't feel at home in Europe, despite his cultural heritage. Ultimately, it suggests that the sacrifice of two cultures results in a new distinct third culture with elements of both ancestral cultures. It is in this third culture that new lines of power can be established and greater understanding can be achieved, but it does require sacrifice of the ancestral cultures, often at great cost.

  • Lindsey Cruz
    2019-03-03 22:53

    I had to read this book for my African history class and it only started getting interesting about midway into the story. I was confused for a while, because so many names are presented, with little to no context of these characters.Nevertheless, though this story's plot moved very slowly, it was still interesting to see what would happen to the characters, especially Njoroge, because you're brought along on his life's journey from the start. I thought it was well-written and provided great context of African life during the Mau Mau Revolution. It definitely opened my mind to the notion that there was also racial tension between Indians and Africans, and that racism has come a long and complicated way from colonization. It was also pleasant to relate to Njoroge's internal struggles; dreamers who are less privileged, but feel deep inside that they'll change the world one day always gets to me... because that is me. My favourite quote resides on page 41 -- He saw himself destined for something big, and this made his heart glow.

  • LuAnn
    2019-02-25 03:11

    In reading comments by other reviewers, I wonder if they don't realize this is the author's first book and if they expect it to read like a book written by a Western author. Protagonist Ngjoroge's dreams, perspective and relationships--especially with Mwihaki--and the effects off the Mau Mau Uprising on various characters feel realistic to me, as does the conclusion. It's interesting to read The River Between before this title as this one takes place about 50 years later and references the same prophesy. This story is less philosophical and the writing less lyrical than The River Between, but there is depth to the story and a visceral immediacy to characters' thoughts and reactions. Researching the Mau Mau Uprising gives readers a more thorough understanding of the political and cultural climate and events of the book and the two books by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o have increased my understanding of the cultural and economic ravages of colonialism.

  • Jessica Lethin
    2019-02-26 22:04

    On the surface this is a coming-of-age story, set in a world that slowly grows more chaotic as colonial rule is coming to an end. On a deeper level we see the restraints of society forcing us into the roles we are expected to fill, regardless of our efforts. Most clearly we see this in the main character Njoroge, who does everything "right" with the goal of saving first his family, then his country from poverty and injustice, only to be forced into the role society has given him. We see this too with his brothers, but also with richer farmer's daughter Mwihaki or with Stephen, the son of the rich white farm owner. Neither can escape their faith, and all are bound to their limited interpretation of right and wrong in a time when everything is changing around them and no one is safe.

  • Marthe
    2019-03-20 01:12

    While I had some issues with the representation of women in this novel, it was definitely a touching and emotional tale of a young man growing up amid sociopolitical turmoil in 1950's Kenya. The focus on education shows just how powerful knowledge can be, and how it can simultaneously be a way to achieve equality, and a means of social and cultural oppression. The ending was not exactly satisfying, but I suppose that can be seen as a reflection of the (at the time) unfulfilled struggle for independence and freedom.

  • Esteban Parra
    2019-03-06 21:18

    Un libro que muestra la forma de vida de muchos africanos durante la época del Mau Mau, los conflictos entre los de su propia raza, aquellos que sostenían con los blancos, y los que debían sobrellevar con ellos mismos. Una narración sencilla en donde los anhelos, la familia y el desarrollo social y personal son los protagonistas. Es triste ver como los sueños se marchitan y la vida va matando tus ilusiones.Lectura muy recomendada.

  • Rob Withers
    2019-02-20 01:58

    Wish I had read this long before. But it is a powerful parable at a time that white people in the U.S. seem to think that they are a persecuted minority. Amazing to see how people can remain blind to privilege.......I've seen it as a textbook in many college classes, and IMHO it should be required reading.

  • Brad
    2019-03-07 00:02

    Set in Kenya during the Mau Mau Uprising, this book tells the story of the war and colonialism's effect on a young man, his family and his people. Very glad I was assigned to read this in college or I may never have picked it up.