Dreams in a Time of War: A Childhood Memoir by Ngugi wa Thiong’o - review by Michael Holman

Michael Holman

Testing Times

Dreams in a Time of War: A Childhood Memoir


Harvill Secker 256pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

Ngugi wa Thiong’o has been a rebel all his life, prickly and quixotic, resilient and brave, Kenyan by nationality but at heart a Kikuyu, fiercely proud to be a member of the country’s largest tribe.

Now seventy-two, the novelist and dramatist looks back, in this memoir, on a childhood spent on the front line of what has been called Britain's ‘dirtiest colonial war’. The roots of just about every one of the causes that he has pursued for nearly fifty years can be found in its pages.

It’s all there, usually in anecdotal form, often providing an insight into the problems that afflict Kenya to this day: the European settlers’ appropriation of the country’s farm land; the imposition of the coloniser’s culture; his belief in the link between indigenous language and liberty; the unfairness of

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