A Grain of Wheat / Edition 1by Ngugi wa Thiong'o
Pub. Date: 04/28/2008
Publisher: Heinemann Library
This is a compelling account of the turbulence that inflamed Kenya in the 1950s and its impact on people's lives. Five friends and agemates make different choices when the Mau Mau rebellion erupts in colonial Kenya. Kihika joins the freedom fighters in the forest; Gikonyo supports the rebels, but is arrested and detained; Mumbi, Gikonyo's wife, works to keep family and home together in the village; Karanja chooses to support the more powerful British masters; Mugo ultimately betrays his friends and loses his life in a desperate attempt to stay alive and stay neutral. In this ambitious and densely worked novel, we begin to see early signs of Ngugi's increasing bitterness about the ways in which the politicians, not the fighters or their families, are the true benefactors of the rewards on independence.
- Heinemann Library
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- New Edition
- Product dimensions:
- 5.08(w) x 7.87(h) x 0.67(d)
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Centered on the pre-Independence Kenyan struggle between the Mau Mau liberation fighters and the British colonial government, A GRAIN OF WHEAT gives a portrayal of the struggle that few writers have ever depicted. One gets a good picture of the Mau Mau fighters, the attitude of the Colonialists, their the detention camps, the nature of the war, the bloody encounters, the ruthlessness of some of the soldiers of Colonial army and the direction to independence for the African continent. Betrayal, hopes and dreams, horrors and loss are all parts of the story.
As an American, I was first introduced to this segment of history by Achebe's Things Fall Apart, which was so profound that I sat in stunned silence for the duration of the flight I was on when I read it. Ngugi continues that tradition, showing the deep rifts caused in native society by the presence of white Europeans. It also adds something else, though, and this addition is what, in my mind, makes this novel so much more than just a commentary on colonization. It adds, in the main character, a question of when a revolution represents the people, and when it represents only a few. The book rightly criticizes European influences, but it also points out something more universal: revolutions can alienate revolutionaries from people just as much as oppressors from oppressed. This is a profound novel on many levels and everyone should read it.
As westerners we have heard much about the holocaust and the Second World War. Many books were written recording these events. Yet how much have we heard about the colonization in Africa? How many books were written describing this? And what was the African point of view of this event that affected them so much, as told in the book `A Grain of Wheat¿? Is it true that we only know that some explorers swept across the African continent, ruling some area¿s, and the result was trade, wealth and new things discovered? It is a shame that people outside Africa, westerners and others, hear so little about colonization and especially the effect of it on the Africans. A Kenyan man called James Ngugi, author of the book `A Grain of Wheat¿, wrote about a country called Kenya, located in East Africa, describing the events around its independence. He wrote how they once lived `peaceful¿, keeping in mind that tribal clashes did occur before, and lived their everyday life. But when the `whites¿ settled, things changed. Family relations worsened and people experienced much hurt. This detailed book also touched on concentration camps and fighting forces. Not only that, but love affairs, deceit, pain and horror were also things found in this story. Good relations between colonists and Kenyans did occur, but rarely. Before I started reading this book, I only had limited understanding of the colonization of Africa, its effect on Africa and its effect on the Africans themselves. Through the reading of this book, I came face to face with the events that happened around colonization. I experienced the horrors that the colonists inflicted on Africans, though this did not lead me to hate my race. I came to know about the cruelty of man and his passionate desire for power. I highly recommend teenagers and adults alike to read this book, doing so not only for pleasure and out of interest, but also to `look at the other side of the story¿, to learn something new and something...big.
Because the white man left does not mean that he has stopped colonizing us as an African people. We still do everything, schooling, governance in the model of the European colonists. Ngugi was Thiongo captures this very brilliantly in 'A Grain of Wheat'. He explores the dificulty and hardship that we as Africans still face in the era of post-colonialism.