Great African Reads discussion

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message 1: by Marieke, Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2373 comments Mod
we have some strong Kenya connections in this group...please feel free to discuss Kenya and Kenyan literature here!


message 2: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 656 comments I'll start out by saying I read "Petals of Blood" many years ago and couldn't really figure it out. I reread it this summer and thought it was great. I think I understood the background better.


message 3: by Priten (new)

Priten (pritengohil) | 1 comments I am Kenyan, and for a long time I have been looking for a good book that contains the history of Kenya and especially Mombasa, my hometown. If anyone knows a good book, please recommend!
Thanks :)

PS: Wrong's 'It's our turn to eat', I think, is a must read for every Kenyan


message 4: by Marieke, Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2373 comments Mod
Priten wrote: "I am Kenyan, and for a long time I have been looking for a good book that contains the history of Kenya and especially Mombasa, my hometown. If anyone knows a good book, please recommend!
Thanks :..."


i am about to visit with my dad and his wife...they lived in nairobi for a few years and since that time have read as much as they could about kenya. i will get some suggestions! also andrea will probably have some ideas.


message 5: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 656 comments If you can get The Lunatic Express: An Entertainment in Imperialism.it's pretty good. But there are newer things out. I"ll look around. (I'm an Iowan but my hometown by marriage is Iten.

If you like historical fiction, you can't beat Marjorie Macgoye.
Marjorie Macgoye


message 6: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 656 comments I'm currently reading a Defeating Mau Mau, Creating Kenya. It's really giving me new insights into how the rifts in Kenyan society created by Mau Mau continue to influence Kenya today. It's written for an academic audience, with full references, but it's not hard reading. I probably would read one of the more general histories of Mau Mau first and then add this, but definitely this is a great read for anyone interested in independence or insurgencies movements in Africa and how they influence the country's later development.


message 7: by David (new)

David Heyer | 68 comments Andrea, Have you read this? Imperial reckoning by
Caroline Elskin. Excellent book about English atrocities during 50s and 60s when they tried to stop Mau Mau

Reveals how, after the Kenyans fought alongside Allied forces in World War II, the British colonial government detained more than one million Kenyan minorities in prisons and work camps where many met their deaths as a result of a British attempt to destroy official records of the attempt to stop the Mau Mau uprising.


message 8: by Marieke, Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2373 comments Mod
My dad really liked that book, David...and there was another one published around the same time that he also read and found very informative. i wish i could remember the name of it.


message 9: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 656 comments Histories of the Hanged: The Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empiremay be the book you are thinking of Marieke. I've read Imperial Reckoning and actually the author of the book I'm reading now has some interesting comments on it. I'm not sure it's accurate to say they detained "minorities" by the way. Black Kenyans were definitely the majority and Kenya has so many ethnic groups that there really isn't a "minority" or "majority." I did think Imperial Reckoning was excellent.


message 10: by Marieke, Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2373 comments Mod
Yes! That is it. I knew I would recognize the title if someone said it. :D


message 11: by Marieke, Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2373 comments Mod
I'll try to remember to ask my dad to remind me what criticisms he had of either book. I'll also ask him if he knows the book you're reading now, Andrea. It would be nice if I could get him to join this group but he does not do the social networking thing. And not because he's a Luddite or anything. He's a former intellectual property lawyer who worked on computer stuff, lol. Now happily retired.


message 12: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 656 comments Maybe that's why. He's retired from all that.


message 13: by David (new)

David Heyer | 68 comments Hi Andrea, I'm off to Kenya for work in two weeks so I stepped up my Kenyan reading the last weeks. I sort of like to keep Elskin for Kenya: reading it while I'm there, I just read the first two chapters and it seemed interesting. Are you saying 'History of the hanged' is a better choice? I'm interested to hear from you why 'your' author thinks it's not so good!
BTW: I also read Mike Mwaura- The Renegade. It's a book from 1972 and I never found reviews on the internet in english. I read it in a Dutch translation. Have you heard of it? The author died young...


message 14: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 656 comments No, I haven't read Mwaura. There were quite a few MauMau memoirs published, but I didn't know any had been published in Dutch? The author of "Defeating MauMau" likes both Elkins and Anderson but doesn't feel they fall a little too much into the idea that the "MauMau" and the "loyalists" were clear dichotomous groups that had clear ideological differences from the beginning. He argues that local politics and the bizarre reactions of the colonial govt. and the local provincial administrators determined a lot of the local reactions and whether people supported Mau Mau or the loyalists. Many of his conclusions are the same as theirs. I do think of the two books, Elkins and Anderson, I preferred Elkins, but it might just be because I read it first. Where will you be in Kenya?


message 15: by David (new)

David Heyer | 68 comments Thanks, I'll come back to you when I've read it.
I'll be in Tigania, a little village near Meru. 300 km north of Nairobi. BTW: Mwaura's 'The Renegade' is a novel and not about the Mau mau uprising.


message 16: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 656 comments Wow, David, that sounds like quite an experience! I'll let you know if I ever run across mention of Mwaura's work.


message 17: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 656 comments I thought this might be a better place than the general spot to shamelessly self-promote that our cookbook is now on goodreads. From the Heartland to the Heart of the Rift: An East African Cookbook. If you'd like a copy, you can order it from our website, simboleiacademy.org. Thanks! Last plug, I promise (at least for the time being:))


message 18: by Marieke, Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2373 comments Mod
Andrea wrote: "I thought this might be a better place than the general spot to shamelessly self-promote that our cookbook is now on goodreads. From the Heartland to the Heart of the Rift: An East African Cookbook..."

Andrea, did i drop the ball in making a thread for you?! i will fix that, i promise. because i'm going to be making food from this book and i'll be excited to chat about it. :D


message 19: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 656 comments Okay, more shameless self promotion, I think:) My husband just got back from Kenya where he was finally able to help the building crew finish pouring the foundation for the main building of our school. I've added a couple of photos to the "photos" section if anybody is interested.


message 20: by J.L. (new)

J.L. | 6 comments Priten wrote: "I am Kenyan, and for a long time I have been looking for a good book that contains the history of Kenya and especially Mombasa, my hometown. If anyone knows a good book, please recommend!
Thanks :..."


Priten - I am a comparatively new member, will a consuming love for Kenya. Have just seen your post. Dont know if you read novels, but I think you may be interested in mine, published this year (2013). Breath of Africa.


message 21: by Margitte (new)

Margitte Andrea wrote: "I thought this might be a better place than the general spot to shamelessly self-promote that our cookbook is now on goodreads. From the Heartland to the Heart of the Rift: An East African Cookbook..."

Has anyone read Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese I loved the detailed description of the Kenyan landscape in the book.


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