Books of Kenya        0  1135 reads


Title:  Wizard of the Crow
Original title: Mũrogi wa Kagogo
Author(s): Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o
Paperback: 768 pages
Publisher: Pantheon
Publication date: August 8th 2006 (first published January 1st 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 037542248X
ISBN-13: 9780375422485
Literary awards: Tähtifantasia Award (2008)

Book summary
The fictional Republic of Aburiria chronicled in this sprawling, dazzling satirical fable is an exaggeration of sordid African despotism. At the top, a grandiose Ruler with "the power to declare any month in the year the seventh month" and his sycophantic cabinet plan to climb to heaven with a modern-day Tower of Babel funded by the Global Bank; beneath them, a cabal of venal officials and opportunistic businessmen jockey for a piece of the pie; at the bottom are the unemployed masses who wait in endless lines behind every help-wanted sign. Kamiti, an archetypal New Man with two university degrees and no job prospects, sets up shop as a wizard; with the help of Nyawira, member of both an underground dissident movement and a feminist dance troupe, he dispenses therapeutic sorcery to a citizenry that finds witchcraft less absurd than everyday life. Kenyan novelist Thiong'o (Petals of Blood) mounts a nuanced but caustic political and social satire of the corruption of African society, with a touch of magical realism—or, perhaps, realistic magic, as the wizard's tricks hinge on holding a not-so-enchanted mirror to his clients' hidden self-delusions. The result is a sometimes lurid, sometimes lyrical reflection on Africa's dysfunctions—and possibilities.

Book Description
From the exiled Kenyan novelist, playwright, poet, and literary critic--a magisterial comic novel that is certain to take its place as a landmark of postcolonial African literature.

In exile now for more than twenty years, Ngugl wa Thiong’o has become one of the most widely read African writers of our time, the power and scope of his work garnering him international attention and praise. His aim in Wizard of the Crow is, in his own words,nothing less than “to sum up Africa of the twentieth century in the context of two thousand years of world history.”

Commencing in “our times” and set in the “Free Republic of Aburlria,” the novel dramatizes with corrosive humor and keenness of observation a battle for control of the souls of the Aburlrian people. Among the contenders: His High Mighty Excellency; the eponymous Wizard, an avatar of folklore and wisdom; the corrupt Christian Ministry; and the nefarious Global Bank. Fashioning the stories of the powerful and the ordinary into a dazzling mosaic, Wizard of the Crow reveals humanity in all its endlessly surprising complexity.

Informed by richly enigmatic traditional African storytelling, Wizard of the Crow is a masterpiece, the crowning achievement in Ngugl wa Thiong’o’s career thus far.



It's Our Turn to Eat: The Story of a Kenyan Whistle-Blower
Author(s): Michela Wrong
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Harper 
Publication date: June 16th 2009
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061346586
ISBN-13: 9780061346583

Book summary
In January 2003, Kenya--seen as the most stable country in Africa--was hailed as a model of democracy after the peaceful election of its new president, Mwai Kibaki. By appointing respected longtime reformer John Githongo as anticorruption czar, the new Kikuyu government signaled its determination to end the corrupt practices that had tainted the previous regime. Yet only two years later, Githongo himself was on the run, having discovered that the new administration was ruthlessly pillaging public funds.

"Under former President Moi, his Kalenjin tribesmen ate. Now it's our turn to eat," politicians and civil servants close to the president told Githongo. As a member of the government and the president's own Kikuyu tribe, Githongo was expected to cooperate. But he refused to be bound by ethnic loyalty. Githongo had secretly compiled evidence of official malfeasance and, at great personal risk, made the painful choice to go public. The result was Kenya's version of Watergate.

Michela Wrong's account of how a pillar of the establishment turned whistle-blower, becoming simultaneously one of the most hated and admired men in Kenya, grips like a political thriller. At the same time, by exploring the factors that continue to blight Africa--ethnic favoritism, government corruption, and the smug complacency of Western donor nations--It's Our Turn to Eat probes the very roots of the continent's predicament. It is a story that no one concerned with our global future can afford to miss.



Facing the Lion: Growing Up Maasai on the African Savanna
Author(s):  Joseph Lemasolai Lekuton, Herman Viola 
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: National Geographic Children's Books
Publication date: October 11th 2005 (first published January 1st 2003)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0792272978
ISBN-13: 9780792272977

Book summary
Joseph Lemasolai Lekuton gives American kids a firsthand look at growing up in Kenya as a member of a tribe of nomads whose livelihood centers on the raising and grazing of cattle. Readers share Lekuton's first encounter with a lion, the epitome of bravery in the warrior tradition. They follow his mischievous antics as a young Maasai cattle herder, coming-of-age initiation, boarding school escapades, soccer success, and journey to America for college. Lekuton's riveting text combines exotic details of nomadic life with the universal experience and emotions of a growing boy.



Title: T
he Mottled Lizard
Author(s): Elspeth Huxley
Paperback: 334 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication date: March 25th 1986 (first published 1962)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 014005958X
ISBN-13: 9780140059588

Book summary
This sequel to THE FLAME TREES OF THIKA continues the story of Elspeth Huxley's childhood in Kenya. British settlers, called to serve in WW I, return to their neglected farms and ranches.

For Tilly and Robin it is back to the struggle. For their daughter, now 11, it is back to the ponies, lessons at home, wild pets (this time a cheetah named Rupert), and hunting trips with Njombo, the Kikuyu headman.

But more is happening. The child narrator is growing into a woman. We lose the wide-eyed child narrator of Thika, but gain in her place a thoughtful and prescient observer of the rapidly changing continent.



Out in the Midday Sun
Author(s): Elspeth Huxley
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication date: April 5th 1988 (first published 1985)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0140092560
ISBN-13: 9780140092561

Book Description
With the same charm that made THE FLAME TREES OF THIKA so memorable, Elspeth Huxley evokes the Africa of her adult life, in particular the legendary personalities of Kenya between the wars, the men and women who gave the country its character and helped shape its destiny.

"A memorable portrait of Kenya in change. Only a writer with her skill, her deep-rooted love of the country, and her intimate knowledge of its people could bring out so clearly both the romance and the realities of African life." (B-O-T Editorial Review Board)



The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change
Author(s): Roger Thurow
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: PublicAffairs 
Publication date: May 29th 2012 (first published 1985)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 9781610390675

Book summary
At 4:00 am, Leonida Wanyama lit a lantern in her house made of sticks and mud. She was up long before the sun to begin her farm work, as usual. But this would be no ordinary day, this second Friday of the new year. This was the day Leonida and a group of smallholder farmers in western Kenya would begin their exodus, as she said, “from misery to Canaan,” the land of milk and honey.
Africa’s smallholder farmers, most of whom are women, know misery. They toil in a time warp, living and working essentially as their forebears did a century ago. With tired seeds, meager soil nutrition, primitive storage facilities, wretched roads, and no capital or credit, they harvest less than one-quarter the yields of Western farmers. The romantic ideal of African farmers––rural villagers in touch with nature, tending bucolic fields––is in reality a horror scene of malnourished children, backbreaking manual work, and profound hopelessness. Growing food is their driving preoccupation, and still they don’t have enough to feed their families throughout the year. The wanjala––the annual hunger season that can stretch from one month to as many as eight or nine––abides.

But in January 2011, Leonida and her neighbors came together and took the enormous risk of trying to change their lives. Award-winning author and world hunger activist Roger Thurow spent a year with four of them––Leonida Wanyama, Rasoa Wasike, Francis Mamati, and Zipporah Biketi––to intimately chronicle their efforts. In The Last Hunger Season, he illuminates the profound challenges these farmers and their families face, and follows them through the seasons to see whether, with a little bit of help from a new social enterprise organization called One Acre Fund, they might transcend lives of dire poverty and hunger.

The daily dramas of the farmers’ lives unfold against the backdrop of a looming global challenge: to feed a growing population, world food production must nearly double by 2050. If these farmers succeed, so might we all.



Born Wild: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Passion for Africa
Author(s): Tony Fitzjohn
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Crown
Publication date: March 22nd 2011 (first published September 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307716031
ISBN-13: 9780307716033

Book Description
Tony Fitzjohn, part missionary, part madman, has been called “one of the world’s most endangered creatures.” An internationally renowned field expert on African wildlife, he is best known for the eighteen years he spent helping Born Free’s George Adamson return more than forty leopards and lions—including the celebrated Christian—to the wild in central Kenya.
Born Wild is the memoir of Fitzjohn’s extraordinary life. It shows how a man driven by an impossibly restless spirit can do almost anything, from being a bouncer in a brothel, to surviving a vicious lion attack, to fighting with the Tanzanian government, to being appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire by the Queen.
A notorious hell-raiser given to scrapes with bandits, evil policemen, and wicked politicians, who has been shot at by poachers and chewed up by lions, Fitzjohn is also a wonderful raconteur. Shenanigans aside, he belongs to that rare species of humans who have sought refuge and meaning in a life truly dedicated to the restoration of the animal kingdom. Many times Tony Fitzjohn has put his life on the line for the cause in which he believes. Born Wild is the story of that passion.



Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya
Author(s): Caroline Elkins
Paperback: 496 pages
Publisher: Holt Paperbacks
Publication date: December 27th 2005 (first published 2004)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0805080015
ISBN-13: 9780805080018

Book Description
As part of the Allied forces, thousands of Kenyans fought alongside the British in World War II. But just a few years after the defeat of Hitler, the British colonial government detained nearly the entire population of Kenya's largest ethnic minority, the Kikuyu-some one and a half million people.

The compelling story of the system of prisons and work camps where thousands met their deaths has remained largely untold-the victim of a determined effort by the British to destroy all official records of their attempts to stop the Mau Mau uprising, the Kikuyu people's ultimately successful bid for Kenyan independence.

Caroline Elkins, an assistant professor of history at Harvard University, spent a decade in London, Nairobi, and the Kenyan countryside interviewing hundreds of Kikuyu men and women who survived the British camps, as well as the British and African loyalists who detained them.

The result is an unforgettable account of the unraveling of the British colonial empire in Kenya-a pivotal moment in twentieth- century history with chilling parallels to America's own imperial project.

Imperial Reckoning is the winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction.



Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya
Author(s): Donna Jo Napoli (Goodreads Author), Kadir Nelson (Illustrator)
Paperback: 40 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
Publication date: January 5th 2010 (first published 2004)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416935053
ISBN-13: 9781416935056

Book Description
Through artful prose and beautiful illustrations, Donna Jo Napoli and Kadir Nelson tell the true story of Wangari Muta Maathai, known as “Mama Miti,” who in 1977 founded the Green Belt Movement, an African grassroots organization that has empowered many people to mobilize and combat deforestation, soil erosion, and environmental degradation. Today more than 30 million trees have been planted throughout Mama Miti’s native Kenya, and in 2004 she became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Wangari Muta Maathai has changed Kenya tree by tree—and with each page turned, children will realize their own ability to positively impact the future.



Facing Mount Kenya
Author(s): Jomo Kenyatta, Bronisław Malinowski (Introduction)
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Vintage
Publication date: February 12th 1962 (first published 2004)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0394702107
ISBN-13: 9780394702100

Book Description
'Facing Mount Kenya' is a central document of the highest distinction in anthropological literature, an invaluable key to the structure of African society and the nature of the African mind. 'Facing Mount Kenya' is not only a formal study of life and death, work and play, sex and the family in one of the greatest tribes of contemporary Africa, but a work of considerable literary merit. The very sight and sound of Kikuyu tribal life presented here are at once comprehensive and intimate, and as precise as they are compassionate.



Author(s): Joe Bindloss, Tom Parkinson, Matt Fletcher
Paperback: 496 pages
Publisher: Lonely Planet Publications Pty Ltd
Publication date: April 2003
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1864503033
ISBN-13: 9781864503036

Book Description
- specializing in safaris: an entire chapter dedicated to creating the optimum experience plus 16pp color wildlife guide
- extensive coverage of national parks & reserves
- 60 detailed maps to help travelers stay on & get off the beaten track
- special sections on Kenya's tribal groups & cultures


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