The Boy Is Gone: Conversations with a Mau Mau General

The Boy Is Gone: Conversations with a Mau Mau General

by Laura Lee P. Huttenbach


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A story with the power to change how people view the last years of colonialism in East Africa, The Boy Is Gone portrays the struggle for Kenyan independence in the words of a freedom fighter whose life spanned the twentieth century's most dramatic transformations. Born into an impoverished farm family in the Meru Highlands, Japhlet Thambu grew up wearing goatskins and lived to stand before his community dressed for business in a pressed suit, crisp tie, and freshly polished shoes. For most of the last four decades, however, he dressed for work in the primary school classroom and on his lush tea farm.

The General, as he came to be called from his leadership of the Mau Mau uprising sixty years ago, narrates his life story in conversation with Laura Lee Huttenbach, a young American who met him while backpacking in Kenya in 2006. A gifted storyteller with a keen appreciation for language and a sense of responsibility as a repository of his people's history, the General talks of his childhood in the voice of a young boy, his fight against the British in the voice of a soldier, and his long life in the voice of shrewd elder. While his life experiences are his alone, his story adds immeasurably to the long history of decolonization as it played out across Africa, Asia, and the Americas.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780896802902
Publisher: Ohio University Press
Publication date: 06/08/2015
Series: Africa in World History Series
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Laura Lee P. Huttenbach, a graduate of the University of Virginia, has written dispatches from South America, the Middle East, and Africa.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Series Editors' Preface xiii

Introduction xxiii

I How I Grew

We Were Wearing Skins 3

Our Good Things Were Called Evil 10

My Message Came through Measles 14

No Longer a Boy 18

A Time When Hitler Laughed 22

II Black Market

Paid from the Center 31

Somebody to Help Me 38

These Africans Are Not Fearing Now 43

Timber 50

The Emergency 55

The Shot You Have Heard 64

III The Forest

A Violent Rainstorm Blames the Wind 85

The pne Who Dug the Hole Is the One Who Fell In 91

Die without Noise 98

Take Him to Kimathi 104

"The Year of Mau Mau" 111

IV Uhuru

Surrender 139

Eating Sand 146

Kenyatta Won't Come to Manyani 157

Following the Pipeline 161

I Was Fearing Politics 171

Who Was First Becomes Last 181

V Wazeehood

"Forget the Past" 189

I Will Stop Dancing When I See My Child Coming to Dance 194

Too Much of Anything Is Poisonous 201

Nothing Culture 207

Epilogue: Now Is the Time I Prayed to See 215

Acknowledgments 219

Jesca and the General's Children and Grandchildren 223

Abbreviations 227

Notes 229

Glossary 239

Further Reading 243

Index 249

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