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Weep Not, Child

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  2,536 ratings  ·  225 reviews
Weep Not, Child is a moving novel about the effects of the Mau Mau uprising on the lives of ordinary men and women, and on one family in particular. 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, th ...more
Paperback, 136 pages
Published April 28th 1988 by Heinemann Educational Books (first published May 1964)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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Jim Fonseca
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
The story is set in Kenya around the time of the Mau Mau Rebellion (1952-1960) when the nation was still a British colony. The blurbs call this book the author’s masterpiece.

The main character is a bright young Christian boy, the only boy in his village who will pass school exams to go on to high school and then perhaps to college in England. When he gets to the high school level, it is the first time he has interacted with white people - the monks who teach at the school. Meanwhile all his olde
...more
Lori
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
A complicated story told simply through the eyes of a child.
Zanna
Mar 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: g-african-reads
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 ...more
KenyanBibliophile
Jun 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These past few days found me wagging an accusing finger at Penguin for the synopsis/cover of this book + the dismal offering of their African Writers Series. My criticisms still stand but I’ll admit the one good thing going for this edition is the introduction by Ben Okri which is pure gold. It alerted me to what I should be paying attention to without giving anything away which added so much more depth to my reading, understanding and interpretation of this classical work.

𝘞𝘦𝘦𝘱 𝘕𝘰𝘵, 𝘊𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘥 tells
...more
Henry Ozogula
May 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the great Ngugi's first novel, published over 50 years ago! The book showed his immense potential and talent as an imaginative writer. Though the novel is based on the shattering reality of the Mau Mau movement in East Africa. The author creates quite a number convincing characters, not only blacks. Njoroge, a youngster is apparently the main protagonist as his family is affected profoundly by the sombre, even violent events, and much of the action is filtered through him. It might be ha ...more
Close Enough
May 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: english
This book describes generally the life in Kenya during the Mau Mau revolution and the struggle of the black people to get their freedom and dignity from the English colonist. Ngugi Wa Thingo follows Njoroge's familly, hoping for a bright future and regaining their stolen land.The Mau Mau uprising had a damaged impact on all the member of this family.

Throughout the troubled time, Njoroge fought against his bad conditions; making his dreams come true was only the idea that gripped him and made hi
...more
Calzean
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
A short but not-sweet story of Kenya during the Mau Maus and the coming of Jomo Kenyatta.
The locals have been sent by England to two World Wars. They have seen their lands taken over by the whites. Unrest stirs.
The book highlights the divisions between the whites and blacks but more so the divisions amongst the locals, the success of the divide and conquer strategy of the English and the various tragedies as each group struggles for dominance.
A memorable book of this era of pre-independent Ken
...more
Irene
Apr 23, 2012 added it
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.
Quo
Weep Not Child by Ngugi wa Theong'o is an early novel by one of Kenya's more prominent writers, someone who came of age as an author just as the struggle for independence was causing both considerable intellectual ferment and widespread bloodshed during the time of the Mau Mau insurrection, called the Emergency by the white colonial administration and the many British settlers, especially those in the so-called "White Highlands" of Kenya.

I'd read this book while living & teaching in Kenya just a
...more
Jamie
Sep 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Bibi
Sep 08, 2016 rated it liked it
This was mandatory read back (way back) in secondary school but the struggle in Kenya pervades today's disenfranchised "Africa" resulting in the kidnapping of the "Nigerian Chibok girls" to the west; hijacking of ocean liners by Somalian pirates in the east; economic mismanagement by leadership of most African countries and many more tragic situations which have led to citizens being displaced and corrupt government officials being celebrated. I can't help but think of the irony that is Walt Whi
...more
Elise
Mar 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Weep Not, Child is a beautiful book about how colonialism in Kenya tears apart families. It is stark, simple, and lovingly executed. This book can also be read in one sitting, which is another of its attributes, because that allows its full emotional impact to work with intensity on the reader. Ben Okri compared Weep Not, Child to Romeo and Juliet. By the time I finished reading this novella, I agreed with Okri's assessment, in spite of the two works' clear differences. Weep Not, Child is a movi ...more
Michael
Jun 24, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 woul
...more
Mahima
Feb 16, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Monster Longe
May 14, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Lindsey Z
Jan 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
*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
...more
Tamara Agha-Jaffar
Published in 1964, Weep Not, Child by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o tells the story of a young boy growing up during a period of civil unrest between British colonial authorities in Kenya and the indigenous population—a period of escalating tensions and the Mau Mau uprising. The events are seen through the eyes of a child.

As a young boy, Njoroge is full of hope and potential. His ambition is to obtain an education. With family support, he passes the required exams and is the first boy in his village to atte
...more
Marc Gerstein
Dec 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
“Weep Not Child,” Nugugi’s first novel published while he was attending school in England, presents as a very simple work given its brevity and its straightforward verbal style. Actually, there’s a lot here.

It’s set in the British colony of Kenya at the time the Mau Mau uprising is taking root, propelled arguably by the imprisonment of Jomo Kenyatta, the so-called “Black Moses” destined, as depicted in the novel, to deliver the blacks from oppression of the white interlopers who took their ance
...more
John
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, africa-2018
Wow. This novel.
Simply put, it is masterful storytelling.

Thiong'o manages something most novelists only strive toward - perfect pacing, character tone, poetic descriptions, complexity hidden in simplicity. His characters seem only sketched out characterizations, but they take deep living giving breaths when we first meet them and grow (or shrink) as frail, viable human beings. Thiong'o creates a three dimensional chess board, deftly moving his narrative between levels, complicating the apparen
...more
Peter
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 mean ...more
Eric
Sep 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.

I’m teaching it in my Honors World History Class now.
Donald Schopflocher
Mar 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
A simple story, told simply. Yet perpetually surprising. Ending in despair, it has foretold the unhappy half century since the events it narrates. This early novel also foretells the brilliant literature that Kenya's foremost author would come to write.
AC
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This little book is actually a very slow read — it has a long fuse. But in the end, one sees that it is a work of some brilliance. This was the first novel that Ngugi published (though The River Between was written earlier), and it is fully accomplished. It was written before his much later radicalization. It is also moving. Clearly an author that deserves further exploration.
Kes
Jul 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2018, fiction
3.5 stars

This feels like it would be nicer if consumed as an audiobook - as it is, the prose appears simple but feels like someone simply speaking to you.

This novella deals with a child going to school just as Kenya moves towards independence. We're introduced to the main character (Njoroge) as a child and the narrative maintains that child-like sense throughout the novella (until the end). Events happen; Njoroge is a passive bystander to them. Njoroge's brothers appear to be actors, and to some
...more
Tiarnan
Jul 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
beautiful

also a good reminder of what absolute bastards the brits are/were
Luther Gwaza
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Another novel by Ngugi Wa Thiongo. Although this is fiction, it is based on experiences from his own life. One would identify Njoroge as Ngugi's own life and Kamau as his brother -- although their stories are not completely intertwined. Again, this is based on realities of Africans living in the village during the colonial era in Kenya - highlighting the challenges faced by the locals who find themselves dispossessed of their land, having to pay hut taxes to the new foreigners who had taken ever ...more
Tony Wainaina
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
I last read Ngugi when I was in school. Waaaay back. Decades ago. A set book. Grain of Wheat I think it was. But I have no recollection of the story at all. I’ve now set out, driven by free will rather than imposition, to read/re-read all of Ngugi’s works in 2019. A TW does a Ngugi wa Thiong’o retrospective kind of thing.
Weep not Child was powerful for me. Starkly and vividly relatable because it was set at a time my parents were living under identical conditions during the Emergency in Central
...more
Dan
Sep 25, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008
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 ...more
Gregory
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
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 b ...more
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Kenyan teacher, novelist, essayist, and playwright, whose works function as an important link between the pioneers of African writing and the younger generation of postcolonial writers. After imprisonment in 1978, Ngũgĩ abandoned using English as the primary language of his work in favor of Gikuyu, his native tongue. The transition from colonialism to postcoloniality and the crisis of modernity ha ...more

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