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Matigari (African Writers)

7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0435905460
ISBN-10: 0435905465
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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

"Ngugi wa Thiong'o has succeeded in creating a fascinating and revolutionary concept of genre... Matigari is both a novel at the same time as it is an oral narrative performance. [Matigari] is likewise equally a hagiography as it is a myth." - Lewis Nkosi

"Soon after Matigari's publication, its hero was mistaken by the paranoid, dictatorial government of Kenya as a revolutionary agitator plotting to overthrow the government, which promptly issued a warrant for his arrest! When the ensuing extensive search across the country finally revealed that Matigari was only a fictional hero, the book which had given birth to this phantom, this Matigari ... was immediately confiscated and banned from circulation." - F. Odun Balogun --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Series: African Writers
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Heinemann Educational Books (June 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0435905465
  • ISBN-13: 978-0435905460
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,478,622 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By DongJin on April 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Matigari by Ngugi wa Thiong'o is a fascinating story. Since from the very beginning, Matigari captures readers with foreshadowing, uses of similes, and many techniques that European writers use. However, the structure is different from a novel written in the European tradition. The language is kept rather simple, as someone would speak when telling a story. There are many repetitive words and phrases in Matigari and readers should not underestimate the significant value of every one of them. In addition, the repetition is one of many things that Ngugi used to make readers read the book like a hidden charisma of the book. In my opinion, one of many quotes that give more insight to the story is the following: There is no night so long that it does not end with dawn." This metaphorical expression has a very significant meaning in the context of the story. It expresses the endless sufferings of people in that land. Most importantly, it emphasizes their hope for a better tomorrow. Thins have not changed after the settlers left. The Imperialism system sets a worldwide system in which the sorrow of the many is the joy of the few. The wealth of an entire nation is in the hands of five percent of the population, while the other ninety five percent are dying of starvation. "I have girded myself with the belt of peace." That is another important phrase. It illustrates the non-violent attitude of the hero. Matigari was a nationalist, a peaceful messenger who wished for harmony in his community. Another phrase that provides the most insight into the text is house and home. It is repeated countless times throughout the story, sometimes as many as eight times on a single page. It is like a mantra-home. The home is the center of our life. It is where families are centered.Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Darryl R. Morris on January 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In the preface to this novel, Ngugi informs us that Matigari was written in 1983, while he was living in exile in London. It was published in the Gikuyu language in 1986, and translated into English the following year. He also tells us that copies of this book were removed from bookshops by the Kenyan police that year, due to the controversy that its release caused there.

Matigari ma Njiruungi, which means 'the patriots who survived the bullets' in the Gikuyu language, is an old man in an unnamed postcolonial African country who, after years of struggle, has finally killed his lifelong tormentor and oppressor Settler Williams and his assistant John Boy. He leaves the forest which had been his home for many years, to return to his home village. He intends to gather up his family and people that he left behind during the struggle for independence, in order to move into the spacious home that he built, which was stolen from him by Settler Williams.

Upon his arrival to the village, he finds a shocking amount of poverty and corruption: orphaned children live in abandoned cars, and obtain scraps of food and clothing from a dump; workers toil in factories and the fields, and do not make enough money to feed their families; a group of women prostitute themselves to survive. The country is now run by His Excellency Ole Excellence and his assistant The Minister of Truth and Justice, and a fragile peace is maintained by fear, violence and the ever present Voice of Truth radio broadcast, which informs the public of the punishment meted out to those who oppose the one party government.

Matigari finds the home that he has built, with the help of a young boy, who has rescued him from a mob of stone throwing youth, and a prostitute who he has rescued from two policemen.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kristina & Joshua on February 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Although the author proposes that the reader set the story in any place they imagine, the Kenyan government took "matigari" quite personally... and Ngugi is now an exiled writer.
originally published in gukuu (sp?) this lyrical story is a written version of African oral story telling tradition. Matigari, victorious over his foe in the mountains, returns to his homeland to find it over-run with capitalism. He befriends a man, woman and a child, and journeys throughout his homeland seeking truth and justice. Word of his deeds travel, and quickly become exaggerated, until matigari himself is deified. The text brings up themes of community versus individualism, socialism versus capitalism... it questions the length of the arm of the United States in Africa... and shows the dangers of Africa taking on destructive "white" government systems.
The story is tragic and beautiful, and very true. Who is Matigari? Read the book and find out!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Gina on August 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
Using Christian analogies, the book is is a metaphor for Kenya's - and all African countries' - struggle for freedom and an end to corruption. The fictional title character was so realistic that the Kenyan government issued a warrant for his arrest and banned the book!
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