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A tale of Post-Colonialism
on November 17, 2003
Set in Kenya but could be a prototype for a native culture anywhere colonized, breaking free, then globalized which is an extension of colonialism. It is easy to understand why the author was imprisoned after the book's publication in 1977 as he presents a bleak view of what the Kenyans got in the way of leaders after independence from the white rulers. The viewpoint here seems to be anyone "for the people" is assassinated, those that stay in power are stinking rich doing business with the former white rulers and selling out their own people.
The story opens with a brief introduction of the four main characters - Munira, Abdulla, Wanja and Karega - a triple murder has just taken place, 3 leading millionaire government officials of the city of Ilmorog were burned to death in their beds. We are then taken back twelve years in time to when Munira arrived in the sleepy, dusty village of Ilmorog to teach school, The four friends meet and we hear their individual stories, how they change over the years but more so how the place called Ilmorog changes, from a dusty village to a modern urban centre, and the effect on people who lived there for generations.
I found the book very dense reading at first, there so many African names introduced, also the style of writing with many flashback is challenging, but before page 100 I was sailing along and could hardly put the book down. There are many layers to this novel, it is a book about Africa, about the world history of black people in general, globalization, colonialism, and a murder mystery as well, the arsonist responsible for the triple murder is revealed to us by the end.