NGUGI WA THIONG’OS DREAMS IN A TIME OF WAR: A Childhood Memoir

Published by: Kenway Publications
Available in all major bookshops
Written by: Ngugi wa Thiong’o
Reviewed by Faith Oneya
It is refreshing to encounter the childlike, playful voice of a young Ngugi wa Thion’go instead of the tough, social activist’s voice that readers of his books have been accustomed to. A particularly humorous paragraph stands out;
“From his European employer my father had learned a few choice English words and phrases –“bloody fool”, “nigger” and “bugger”- but which he Gikuyunized as mburaribuu, kaniga gaka, mbaga ino, and which he used freely to address any of his children at whom he was angry.”
The themes he addresses are not so different from what he has been preaching in all his books. Truth be told, it would be impossible to divorce Ngugi from the themes of Social Change, Mau Mau, Colonialism and Christianity.
In his childhood memoir, Ngugi takes us back to his birth in 1938, under the shadow of the Second World War, to Thion’go wa Nducu and Wanjiku wa Ngugi, and the mysterious circumstances that led them to losing their land to a fellow by the name Bwana Stanley. His fascinating journey continues to the day he started school-and his excitement at wearing real clothes is palpable!
The role that his mother plays in getting him to start school is quite significant and the burning question that his mother asks him; “Is this the best you can do?” seems to be his driving force throughout his childhood journey and eventually to his admittance into Alliance High School.
Ngugi takes the reader though the fascinating and hilarious encounters with school, Christianity , prayers, wheelbarrows , trains, bikes,Pre-colonial politics and many more.
The innocent voice of the author as we discover the world of his childhood with him makes for very captivating read.

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Author: Faith Oneya

Lover of the written and spoken word.

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