(K. Brent Tomer),
Birth of a Dream Weaver: A Writer’s Awakening. By Ngugi wa Thiong’o. New Press; 238 pages; $25.95. Harvill Secker; £14.99.
IN THE latest volume of his memoirs, Ngugi wa Thiong’o advocates a certain revisionism about his native Kenya. In a brief preface titled “Note on Nomenclature” he asserts that the British-termed “Mau Mau” rebellion will instead be referred to as the “Land and Freedom Army”, the two main goals for those who rose up against the British colonial presence in Kenya. According to Mr Ngugi, the term “Mau Mau” comes from a corruption of the movement’s motto: “Oath of unity for (demanding) Land and Freedom”. It was the colonial state that opted instead, he says, to refer to the soldiers with the “meaningless mumbo-jumbo” of “Mau Mau” in order to obscure both their goals and their purpose.
The uprising began in the early 1950s, when Mr Ngugi was still a teenager. It grew from the armed struggle for liberation by the Kikuyu and other tribes, but was characterised by the colonial power as “mass mania manifesting itself in violence and witchcraft”, what Elspeth…Continue reading