Escape Under the Kenyan Moon begins as a passionate love story during the 1970's between Carole, a petite blonde and blue eyed young woman, and Otieno Habembe a young black man from a primitive island in Lake Victoria between Kenya and Uganda. Otieno came to Ohio State University on a United Nations scholarship.
It is the early 70's, bi-racial relationships were not only rare but unacceptable to most people. She was disowned by her parents, shunned by some family and friends, and hated by many in society. Carole and Otieno rise above the prejudice through the passion and strength of their love for each other.
Their life is wonderful despite the challenges, but there was a longing in Otieno's heart for the Africa he had left behind. Four years and two babies later, he can only hear the call of his native land. Otieno must take his family and return home.
Although this would be a homecoming for Otieno, Carole would be giving up everything she knew except her husband and children. Her oldest daughter from an earlier marriage would be separated from her father by thousands of miles. The thought of leaving all that she knew was terrifying but the promise of a new life with the man and the children she loved gave her the courage to accept this decision.
As the couple begin their new life, Carole falls in love again. The slow, easy paced culture, the beauty of the land, and the warmth of the African people capture her heart. Carole thrived in the simple lifestyle of Thika. Each day was a new adventure. Her alarm clock was the neighbor's rooster and the morning music was the sweet harmony of native birds. A trip to the grocery was a three mile walk with her brown baby girl wrapped snugly on her back. The native women greeted her with "Jambo sana, mama Otiga". The beauty was breathtaking as she walked past giant banana plants dripping with tiny finger bananas and dazzling trees drenched in lemon yellow, vibrant red, and popsicle orange flowers. Her favorite was the Jacaranda tree that dropped delicate purple petals giving the red dirt road the appearance of being covered with purple snow.
The journey into the primitive culture of Otieno's home on Sigulu Island was her final step into his world. It was also her first glimpse into the evil that was part of his culture. Otieno's brother, Pascal, was Chief of the tribe. When she looked into his eyes, the ugly black depths of his soul poured out and she could feel the evil. Even Otieno lived in fear of his brother.
Here, life was a paradox between the ordinary and the extraordinary, between the modern and the primitive, between beauty and harshness, and between goodness and evil. She lived in a beautiful home with servants but also stayed in a mud hut with stone-age amenities. She was thrilled by the beauty of her surroundings and saddened by the bleakness of life for so many. She lived with the love and kindness of a gentle people but experienced the evil Otieno's brother.
Carole would have happily lived in Kenya forever, but Otieno made that impossible. In the end, the evil invaded her life when Otieno became angry and abusive. As the violence escalated, she realized that they must escape. Unlike America, African wives are property and have no rights. The only way out was in secrecy, if caught, she was in danger of losing her children or her life. With the help of missionaries who risked their lives, God provided an escape for Carole and her three children.
It would be easy to mistake this story as one of loss and sadness but it is about joy and healing. The book is filled with humor, beautiful descriptions of life in Africa, drama, courage, faith in a loving and protective God, and redemption as she rebuilds her life from the ashes. There is no anger or bitterness. In the end, it is a love story. The love for a man, the love of family, the love of a culture and of a continent, but especially the love for our God and His unfailing love for us.