Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A review of Duncan Ndegwa's Walking in Kenyata struggles

As a quick preamble, there are very few useful books out there that give Kenyans a glimpse of how their government actually operate. Secondly, there are very few books that attempt to bridge the gap between the mythological beginnings of many a Kenyan tribe and their history pre the mzungu's invasion.

This is one of few that I have read that does attempt to do both.

As I suspect it is the case with many of my posts, the book could have done with extensive editing to give it some chronological order. I really enjoyed the first half of the book which looks at the history of Kenya at the beginning of last century has lots interesting detail on Agikuyu practices before we fell hook line and sink for mzungu-culture; very funny bits about growing up in those and especially when they first encountered whites and the various struggles against colonialism in its virulent stages when you could get shot for looking at a white lady!

The second half of the book suffers from neglect from a good editor. The story jump back and forth from the period after Uhuru to years downstream to the Kapenguria jail period and so forth. It does include a lot of nuggets. Moi apparently offered 7 GEMA Mps the VP post in 1978 before settling on Kibz. Kibz would have been minister of finance (to replace the perpetually drunk James Gichuru) earlier than he did but for his closeness to Tom Mboya (the two jointly did the 5 year development plan of 1965). His explanation of why his civil service commission allowed civil servants to own businesses is laughable and shouldn't go any further.

Ndegwa idolises Kenyatta, but in the end paints the old man as nothing better than a tyrant who punished those who didn't show absolute sycophancy. Recalling m-o-1's rule the Kanu circus of late 80s when Mps were treated like schoolboys, you can say he was just following mzee's nyayo.


bankelele said...

the next bok i read, it has been on my shelf for some months now. As you said, an editor should have been more forceful.
- BTW there's an abridged version of the book on sale too

bankelele said...

Oh and his hotel officialy re-opens today Mombasa Continental (used to be inter-continental in the early 90's)

coldtusker said...

ndegwa was a hack... his tenure at the CBK was pathetic. Kenya should have liberalised the KES and we would have had a more dynamic competitive economy.