Great African Reads discussion

Unbowed
This topic is about Unbowed
41 views
Archived | Regional Books 2018 > July/Aug 2018 | Unbowed: A Memoir by Wangari Maathai NO SPOILERS

Comments Showing 1-13 of 13 (13 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Anetq, Tour Operator & Guide (last edited Nov 04, 2018 11:34AM) (new) - added it

Anetq | 813 comments Mod
This thread is for discussions of our July/Aug 2018 read of Unbowed: A Memoir by Wangari Maathai - with NO SPOILERS (there is a thread with spoilers allowed too) - so feel free to discuss book editions, availability, expectations etc. - when you get into the book, please join us in the spoiler thread!


message 2: by George P. (last edited Jun 03, 2018 07:57PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

George P. | 211 comments I'm the member who nominated this book, so I was happy to see just now that it finished in 2nd place in the poll to become a group-read book. Maathai was the 1st woman in East Africa to receive a Phd (in the 60s), and was awarded the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize. It has about 3000 ratings on goodreads, with an avg of 4.05, surprisingly good for a memoir from an African writer (not named Mandela) I think. Both the city and county libraries here have copies and I hope others can get copies and will join in.

I've just read Down Second Avenue: Growing Up in a South African Ghetto, a memoir by a male black African and am reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X, by a male black American, so it will make an interesting comparison to read a memoir by an African woman; actually, I've read Infidel, a memoir of a Somali woman (who grew up partly in Kenya), but good to read another, which I think is rather a different life story.


message 3: by Anetq, Tour Operator & Guide (new) - added it

Anetq | 813 comments Mod
George wrote: "I'm the member who nominated this book, so I was happy to see just now that it finished in 2nd place in the poll to become a group-read book. Maathai was the 1st woman in East Africa to receive a P..."

Thanks George for following up your nomination with this intro!


message 4: by Tinea, Nonfiction Logistician (last edited Jun 04, 2018 07:51AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tinea (pist) | 423 comments Mod
Here's a link to purchase Maathai's books via her organization's website, so some of the proceeds benefit the Green Belt Movement.

You can read about her work & legacy on the Green Belt Movement website, and read some short speeches there, including her Nobel Prize acceptance speech.


message 5: by Cam (new) - added it

Cam | 95 comments Thank you for the link to the 2012 discussion Tinea, that was very interesting to read, and a good introduction to the questions that the political memoir genre raise.


message 6: by George P. (last edited Aug 01, 2018 03:34PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

George P. | 211 comments I have the book now and have read about an eighth. My county library has that one copy and the Salt Lake City library also has 2 copies (one of which is out).
This first part is about her early life growing up in Kenya. It has similarities to the beginning of the memoir from South Africa Down Second Avenue: Growing Up in a South African Ghetto by Ezekiel Mphahlele, although being male, his experiences were somewhat different, and he always lived in a township while Maathai spent her early years on a white settler's farm. Both were affected by the oppression of colonial rule. Maathai's family was not allowed to grow coffee or tea for example, because they were monopolies of the white settlers. Neither family was allowed to live in white areas either.
My experience growing up in a southern state of the US in the 1950s was that there probably was no legal barriers to blacks living in our area but we had de facto segregation- even if a black family could afford the neighborhood, none would have dared for fear of some reprisals.


George P. | 211 comments I've read about 80% of the book now, and have found it to be a very different sort of memoir than the other memoirs I've read by native Africans- i.e., Down Second Avenue: Growing Up in a South African Ghetto by Mphahlele of South Africa and Infidel by Ali of Somalia (who also grew up partly in Kenya).
Unbowed does resemble these books in the early part, but then becomes more of a story of political struggle and her life as it was shaped by that struggle, more like Hillary Clinton's book Living History which I read a couple years ago and Jimmy Carter's A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety.
I was unaware until today that this book had been a group book here previously, in 2102, and found it interesting to read the comments posted then [Maathai: Unbowed| Kenya (Tour D'Afrique) first read: May 2012] . Thanks for providing the link to that Anetq.


message 8: by George P. (last edited Aug 06, 2018 08:35PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

George P. | 211 comments I have finished the book. Maathai's autobiography tells her life story well, however I felt as though it didn't give me that much understanding of what went on inside, of how she changed from a nice Catholic school girl to a militant defender of the environment, democracy and women's rights who became a Nobel Peace Prize recipient. From her writing it was evidently a gradual process in which one thing led to another. It would be interesting now to read a biography of her by an unbiased journalist/ writer.


message 9: by Wim, French Readings (new) - rated it 3 stars

Wim | 870 comments Mod
I found a copy (Dutch translation) and just started reading. I don't think it'll be a well written book, but I hope it to be inspiring!


George P. | 211 comments Wim wrote: "I found a copy (Dutch translation) and just started reading. I don't think it'll be a well written book, but I hope it to be inspiring!"

Have you finished Wim? If so, did you enjoy reading it?


message 11: by Wim, French Readings (new) - rated it 3 stars

Wim | 870 comments Mod
George, I did finish the book and enjoyed it more than I expected.
You can read my comments in the spoilers allowed thread and you find my review here.


George P. | 211 comments Wim wrote: "George, I did finish the book and enjoyed it more than I expected.
You can read my comments in the spoilers allowed thread and you find my review here."


Thanks for posting that very nice review Wim, I enjoyed reading it. Wish I had noticed the posting sooner.


message 13: by Wim, French Readings (new) - rated it 3 stars

Wim | 870 comments Mod
Thanks George. It's never too late.


back to top