Weep Not, Child (African Writers Series, AWS7)


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A powerful, moving story that details the effects of the infamous Mau Mau war, the African nationalist revolt against colonial oppression in Kenya, on the lives of ordinary men and women, and on one family in particular. Two brothers, Njoroge and Kamau, stand on a rubbish heap and look into their futures. Njoroge is excited; his family has decided that he will attend school, while Kamau will train to be a carpenter. Together they will serve their country – the teacher and the craftsman.

But this is Kenya and the times are against them. In the forests, the Mau Mau is waging war against the white government, and the two brothers and their family need to decide where their loyalties lie. For the practical Kamau the choice is simple, but for Njoroge the scholar, the dream of progress through learning is a hard one to give up.

AG鈥檚 Book Adventures

#BookReview: Weep Not Child
#Author: Ngugi wa Thiong鈥檕 馃嚢馃嚜
Type of work (Genre): Fiction
Number of pages: 134
Own or Borrowed: Own (purchased from a bookshop in Thika, Kenya)
#ReadIt: at hotel and airport

#OverallImpressions: This was a good read. The tale itself was tragic. I liked that it wasn鈥檛 very predictable. I loved how it tackled a delicate issue like land ownership in Kenya in the moments leading up to the postcolonial era from the different perspectives at play. I鈥檓 not sure I enjoyed it the way I expected to based on commentary from friends but I loved reading this book all the same and look forward to reading more by Ngugi.

#SomethingThatStoodOut: I absolutely loved that he incorporated words from his language, Gikuyu. This is something I wish more African writers do so I鈥檓 always excited to see it happen on the pages of books I read.

#OverallRating:馃枊馃枊馃枊馃枊 (out of 5 fountain pens).

Recommend or nah: I definitely recommend it. It鈥檚 a classic piece of literature worth reading.

Remember to follow my @agsbookadventures 馃摎IG & Facebook accounts dedicated to books & reading.

Additional information

Weight 0.3 kg

Ng农g末 wa Thiong'o

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, Ng农g末 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 has been a central issues in a great deal of Ng农g末's writings.

Ng农g末 wa Thiong'o was born in Kamiriithu, near Limuru, Kiambu District, as the fifth child of the third of his father's four wives. At that time Kenya was under British rule, which ended in 1963. Ng农g末's family belonged to the Kenya's largest ethnic group, the Gikuyu. His father, Thiong'o wa Nducu, was a peasant farmer, who was forced to become a squatter after the British Imperial Act of 1915. Ng农g末 attended the mission-run school at Kamaandura in Limuru, Karinga school in Maanguu, and Alliance High School in Kikuyu. During these years Ng农g末 became a devout Christian. However, at school he also learned about the Gikuyu values and history and underwent the Gikuyu rite of passage ceremony. Later he rejected Christianity, and changed his original name in 1976 from James Ng农g末, which he saw as a sign of colonialism, to Ng农g末 wa Thiong'o in honor of his Gikuyu heritage.

After receiving a B.A. in English at Makerere University College in Kampala (Uganda) in 1963, Ng农g末 worked briefly as a journalist in Nairobi. He married in 1961. Over the next seventeen years his wife, Nyambura, gave birth to six children. In 1962 Ng农g末's play THE BLACK HERMIT was produced in Kampala. In 1964 he left for England to pursue graduate studies at the Leeds University in England.

The most prominent theme in Ng农g末's early work was the conflict between the individual and the community. As a novelist Ng农g末 made his debut with WEEP NOT, CHILD (1964), which he started to write while he was at school in England. It was the first novel in English to be published by an East African author. Ng农g末 used the Bildungsroman form to tell the story of a young man, Njoroge. He loses his opportunity for further education when he is caught between idealistic dreams and the violent reality of the colonial exploitation. THE RIVER BETWEEN (1965) had as its background the Mau Mau Rebellion (1952-1956). The story was set in the late 1920s and 1930s and depicted an unhappy love affair in a rural community divided between Christian converts and non-Christians.

A GRAIN OF WHEAT (1967) marked Ng农g末's break with cultural nationalism and his embracing of Fanonist Marxism. Ng农g末 refers in the title to the biblical theme of self-sacrifice, a part of the new birth: "unless a grain of wheat die." The allegorical story of one man's mistaken heroism and a search for the betrayer of a Mau Mau leader is set in a village, which has been destroyed in the war. The author's family was involved in the Mau Mau uprising. Ng农g末's older brother had joined the movement, his stepbrother was killed, and his mother was arrested and tortured. Ng农g末's village suffered in a campaign.

In the 1960s Ng农g末 was a reporter for the Nairobi Daily Nation and editor of Zuka from 1965 to 1970. He worked as a lecturer at several universities - at the University College in Nairobi (1967-69), at the Makerere University in Kampala (1969-70), and at the Northwestern University in Evanston in the United States (1970-71). Ng农g末 had resigned from his post at Nairobi University as a protest against government interference in the university, be he joined the faculty in 1973, becoming an associate professor and chairman of the department of literature. It had been formed in response to his and his colleagues' criticism of English - the British government had made in the 1950s instruction in English mandatory.

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