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Just Matata (Matata Trilogy) Paperback – November 4, 2011
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About the Author
The author, Braz Menezes, is a retired architect and urban planner,Commonwealth Scholar. He lives in Toronto. He graduated from the University of Nairobi in Architecture. He was awarded a British Commonwealth Scholarship in 1964 to study Civic Design at the University of Liverpool. He returned to Kenya and established a successful practice, before eventually immigrating with his family to Canada in 1976. In 1978 he joined the World Bank and has travelled and worked in a number of countries including Brazil, Egypt, India, Mexico, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. He returned to Canada in 2004. He studied creative writing and George Brown College, and at Humber College, Toronto. His work has appeared in various anthologies including; Canadian Voices, Volume 1&2, (2009-2010) Bookland Press, Toronto; Goa Masala, (2010) A-Plus Publishing, Toronto; Indian Voices, (2011) Fortytwo Books Galaxy, (2011) Mumbai; and Canadian Imprints, (2011) Writers and Editors Network-WEN, Toronto. Just Matata is his debut novel, and the first of the Matata Trilogy
Top customer reviews
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It is written in a style that invokes all the sounds,smells and sights of a bygone age in Africa and perhaps increasingly so, in India. It conjures up a vivid picture of the author's surroundings and life as a child and shares his feelings in a very amusing and understanding way. He is modest and shares his fears and failings and it is this that helps make this a delightful read.
As a child of a Goan family struggling to make ends meet yet maintaining dignity and a sense of purpose, Braz leads us on an interesting journey through his life as an innocent,decent youth,who can see but perhaps does not understand the social injustices he witnesses.This book should resonate with anyone who was brought up in colonial Africa.
A talented author, he leaves the reader with the feeling that he's a good,fun,nice guy,much in the way Bill Bryson does.
I look forward to reading the second in the triology.
These books are absorbing reading. They combine the social history of a family and community with thorough historical research that informs the reader of Kenya’s political evolution. If you haven't done so already, be sure to read "Just Matata: Sin, Saints and Settlers” and it's sequel, "More Matata: Love After the Mau Mau” (The first two books of The Matata Trilogy) by Braz Menezes, a former renowned Kenyan architect, turned author. Partly autobiographical, the books chronicle the culturally rich and colourful coming-of-age story of a young & precocious boy and his traditional Catholic Goan family in pre-independent Kenya. Told from the POV of the boy, Lando (in "Just Matata"), and later of the young man (in "More Matata"), he first describes how his father ends up in Kenya in 1928, putting down roots originally in Mombasa and then in Nairobi, before returning to Goa briefly to gain a wife in 1935.
Lando, born as WW II breaks out in Europe, grows up across the road from the (Europeans only) Parklands Sports Club and within walking distance to the then Coryndon Museum. He experiences a traditionally Goan up-bringing superimposed over a typically adventuresome Kenyan boyhood (in "Just Matata"), before he is sent off at the age of eleven, to a Jesuit-run boarding school in faraway Goa. But he manages an escape. This is followed by even more complicated but equally rich and valuable teen years during the Mau Mau, as he forges into virgin terrain at an ‘Asians only’ high school in Kenya, and later into the first multi-racial class at what was the inaugural Nairobi University. His apprenticing internships at various architectural firms are thought provoking, as are his anxieties about inter-racial relationships and marriage.
You'll laugh, you'll cry and even learn through the culturally interesting eyes of the young Goan-Kenyan. You'll also be taken down a wonderful memory lane full of anecdotes of the unique kind of growing-up experiences shared by Kenyan of all nationalities, including (but not limited to) masala-spiced mangoes, the Museum and the Leakey family, a first safari, a memorable family picnic in the Rift Valley, shopping in the Indian Bazaar, a family visit to Old Town Mombasa, a return voyage by steamship to Goa, and a glimpse of life in boarding school. Lando also has a bossy older sister, a loyal dog named Simba, and a compelling schoolboy crush.
The 2 books really are "must reads" for anyone who ever grew up or lived in Kenya (and curious tourists) wanting to understand the historical social fabric, then or now. I am enthusiastically sharing my reactions, as I believe other readers will absolutely enjoy reading "Just Matata" and "More Matata," by Braz Menezes. Buy them today and then, like me, yearn to find out what happens next in the still untitled, soon-to-be released 3rd book of the trilogy. Happy reading!
When Lando is about 11 years old, his father decides to send him to Boarding School in Goa.—St. Josephs. He is not happy there, is always hungry and works out a plan to escape with a friend. Goa, however, he does learn to love , and I really enjoyed the descriptions of the people, the way of life and the flora and fauna. I have added it to my list of the places I must visit before I die ! Before Lando can effect his escape from school, his parents bring him back to Kenya. I grew to love Lando. He takes everything in his stride and his comments are both insightful and amusing.
The way Braz Menezes writes is very easy to read and one learns much about the history of both countries. The book ends at the beginning of the 1950s with the rumblings of trouble brewing –the Mau Mau Emergency--- and I look forward to reading in the second book , More Matata, how Lando copes with his older years. Braz, how much of this is autobiographical ?
I can thoroughly recommend Just Matata and I’m sure the next two books in the trilogy will be equally good.