I Refuse to Die (The Autobiography of Koigi Wa Wamwere): My Journey for Freedom

I Refuse to Die (The Autobiography of Koigi Wa Wamwere): My Journey for Freedom

by Koigi wa Wamwere, Nan Richardson, Wa Wamwere Koigi, Kerry Kennedy Cuomo
     
 

An extraordinary account of how a laborer's son rose to challenge the power of despots, I Refuse to Die is both the autobiography of one gifted man who rose above the horrors of colonization, and an uncensored history of modern Kenya. The book is infused with the freedom songs of the Kenyan people, as well as dream prophecy and folk tales that are part of Kenya's

Overview

An extraordinary account of how a laborer's son rose to challenge the power of despots, I Refuse to Die is both the autobiography of one gifted man who rose above the horrors of colonization, and an uncensored history of modern Kenya. The book is infused with the freedom songs of the Kenyan people, as well as dream prophecy and folk tales that are part of Kenya's rich storytelling tradition. Tracing the roots of the Mau Mau rebellion, wa Wamwere follows the evolution and degeneration of Jomo Kenyatta and the rise of Daniel arap Moi.
In 1979, wa Wamwere won a seat in the parliament, where he represented the economically depressed Nakuru district for three years. An outspoken activist and journalist, wa Wamwere was framed and detained on three separate instances, spending thirteen years in prison, where he was tortured but not broken. His mother and others led a hunger strike to free him and fellow political prisoners. Their efforts brought about a show trial at which Koigi was sentenced to four more years in prison and "six strokes of the cane," and escaped Kenya—and probably execution—only through the exertions of human rights groups and the government of Norway.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Human rights activist Wa Wamwere relates in harrowing detail the repeated incarcerations, tortures, and terrors inflicted upon him and his family by Kenya’s oppressive regimes.

This strange and powerful work mixes memoir, social history, polemic, and manifesto. Its basic structure is autobiographical, but Wa Wamwere frequently interrupts with Kenyan history, ethnography, folk tales, poetry, fables, parables, songs, and laments for lost friends and lost causes. We learn about his birth into an impoverished family. His father was a forest worker who labored long hours for a pittance. His mother struggled to keep her family safe and cohesive; she emerges here as a powerful woman who would not abandon the political causes of her sons, even in the face of prison and torture. Wa Wamwere’s childhood was difficult in school and out. He recalls teachers who beat him every day, and he endured the loss of a one-year-old sister who was inadvertently dropped into a pot of boiling porridge. He records his disillusion with Jomo Kenyatta, who transformed quickly from hero to horror, and his revulsion at the policies of David arap Moi, Kenyatta’s successor. Wa Wamwere attended Cornell in the early 1970s but returned to Kenya in 1973 and became involved in revolutionary politics. The next 30 years brought him small successes (he was elected to parliament) and unspeakable pain. For opposing Moi’s government, he was repeatedly arrested (usually without warrant), beaten, jailed, and otherwise humiliated and intimidated. His most recent release was in 1997. The author treads at times on Western toes: he blasts America for supporting African dictators, vigorously defends "female circumcision," and laudsQadaffi. Interested less in the quality than in the power of his prose, he frequently diminishes the latter by paying too little attention to the former; clichés pervade and sometimes spoil his text.

Nonetheless, a terrifying work of enormous importance that contrasts humanity with bestiality, dignity with depravity.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781583225219
Publisher:
Seven Stories Press
Publication date:
09/01/2002
Pages:
368
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

KOIGI WA WAMWERE is a political activist and writer. Born in Kenya in 1949, he has been fighting for social change in his home country for decades. He was imprisoned in Kenya five times between 1975 and 1996, spending a total of thirteen years in prison, including periods during which he was tortured. His execution was averted only by the combined efforts of the Norwegian government and human rights activists around the world. Today, wa Wamwere continues to put his life on the line for human rights, inspiring those around him with his clear vision and personal strength. Wa Wamwere lives in New York City and Kenya.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >