THIS NOVEL HAS a one-paragraph foreword which grabs the attention straight away: Vikram Lall, who is to be its narrator, tells us that he has the distinction of being numbered one of Africa's most corrupt men, a cheat of monstrous cunning who heads his country's (Kenya's) list of shame. He is going to tell us how he came to occupy this appalling position. The moment could not be more timely, considering that Sir Edward Clay, Britain's senior diplomat in Kenya, has just accused members of the government there of stealing A100 million during their time in office. He called them 'arrogant, greedy gluttons'. This kind of corruption, common to so many African countries after independence, is not nearly well enough understood, so Vikram Lall might do a- great service if he can enlighten us.
First, however, we are taken back to 1953, to a colonial world in which Lall's Asian family own a provision store in a small town in the Rift Valley. They experience regular repression and humiliation from the whites in charge, but nevertheless Vikram, eight at the time, is in the