With lyrical flair, Peter Kimani whisks the reader on a journey of the Iron Snake railway as it travels from the coast and cuts through dense forestry. The advent of the railway is the advent of Kenya’s colonisation, which beckons indentured labourers from India to its shores, a country also currently colonised by the British. In its complicated tracks, Kimani masterfully lays one story of Kenya’s history, probing ideas of national identity and belonging, and love lost through the beginnings of the Lunatic Express to the Big Man leading the country towards her independence. Continue reading “Bite-size Review: Dance of the Jakaranda | Peter Kimani”
Published this year Nakisanze Segawa’s The Triangle is a work of historical fiction that will leave you wanting more. Set in the Kingdom of Buganda in the late 1800s the story centres on life at the royal palace. Segawa skilfully makes us privy to the varied and complex relationships played out between the young Kabaka (king) Mwanga II, his wives, his courtiers and the foreigners in his kingdom, European missionaries and Arab merchants. Segawa meticulously researched historical archives in the process of writing this book and it really shows; from Continue reading “Bite-size Review: The Triangle | Nakisanze Segawa”
Known writers of Lusophone Africa tend to be descendants of white Portuguese who settled during the eve of colonialism. Their contributions to Lusophone literature, is only matched by their commitment to the anti-colonial struggles. The father of Angolan literature Pepetela, born in Benguela 1941, fought as a member of MPLA and wrote extensively on Angola’s political history. Mia Couto from Mozambique, the runner up for the Man Booker International Prize this year, is known to have suspended his studies to join the ranks of Frelimo during the liberation struggles, as a journalist for the newspaper “Tribuna” in 1974. His book Sleepwalking Land brilliantly explores the Mozambican consciousness in the aftermath of the civil war (1977).
In the frenzy of cultural and social transformations driven primarily by colonialism, the central characters of Nervous Conditions seek to find or exercise a displaced or lost identity. Yet the path towards self-discovery and acceptance leads to self- destruction. Dangaremba’s work unpicks the complex layers underpinning colonized subjectivity and identity reconstruction. The book offers a critique of colonial patriarchy seen through the lenses of its female characters, who stand as fragments of embattled consciousness. Like a jury to imperial delinquency, it calls the reader to witness the plight of women of different generations immured in the turmoil of double oppression. Continue reading “Bite-size Review: Nervous Conditions | Tsitsi Dangarembga”
An unusual work of fiction by one of Africa’s foremost thinkers. J.E. Casely Hayford, commonly known for his political and cultural treatise on colonialism, cleverly works into his novel the powerful message of African emancipation. Through the experiences of the protagonist Kwamankra, Africa is renewed, by declaring its desire for freedom and reclaiming its customs and traditions. Continue reading “Bite-size Review: Ethiopia Unbound | J.E. Casely Hayford”