It is in the 1940’s and Nairobi is frenzied activity. The city is expecting some international dignitaries.
Hussein Warutere is a rickshaw operator hustling between Norfolk Hotel and the railway station. Having had one snack too many, he is woken up from his afternoon slumber by a raging need to go to the toilet. But just then, one of the feared mzungus, Corporal Fredrick Marshall, jumps into the rickshaw and Hussein has to tolerate the nagging pain in his bowels as he pulls the feared white man. When he is finally released, Hussein dashes to the nearest toilet to do his thing. Big Problem – it is a ‘Whites Only’ toilet.
Apart from being beaten up, Hussein is hauled off to jail for thirteen years for ‘being a mau mau conspirator and trying to plant a bomb in the loo’!
This is just one of the thirteen stories that poet Al Kags has compiled about people whose lives were radically and dramatically changed by the events up to, during and after Kenya’s fight for independence.
Meet Sifa Amadi, the young Rabai girl who comes to Nairobi at only fifteen years, only to have to face a life of great sexual exploitation, rape and prostitution. Her life is dramatically changed after a chance encounter with Tom Mboya.
Al Kags’ “Living Memories – Kenya’s Untold Stories’ is an ensemble of interviews, thoughts and discussions with people who survived Kenya’s infancy from the Mau Mau insurgency to the declaration of independence.
The thoughts come at an opportune time when the country is still reeling with the effects of the post election violence. The stories make us wonder, like Udi Waithaka, why we had to take up arms against each other. Is this the independence our grandfather’s fought for?
The stories are told in a simple but thought-provoking manner.
Looking at the impact of the stories, you are left to wonder if Al Kags has done justice to our grandfathers. I mean, each of these stories can stand alone as a novel! We can only hope that Al has more stories for the sequel.
The book is published by Storymoja and is available in all leading bookshops as well as online via Rachel’s Bargain Corner.
About the Author: Al Kags is a poet, writer and social commentator: www.alkags.com
“The first dead body I ever saw in my life was that of a white little girl. I was about 10 years old. Even now, 69 years later, I have not forgotten the impact and profound epiphany that I had then; that white people actually die…” Excerpt from Muiwa Ole Ntutu’s story.