Friday, October 02, 2015

My reading list for Kenya, some more obvious than others

IMG_20150912_121903657Below are a list of books, stories, etc. that I read before (and partly during) my trip to Kenya. Some are more obvious than others (Out of Africa and the African works of Hemingway being the most obvious Western works of course!). Nicolas Best's Happy Valley was an interesting account of the British in East Africa through independence, but had a certain condescending tone that was a bit off.

The historical travel accounts (from Thompson's 1885 work through Waugh in the early 1960s) were the all too typical "white man" accounts that left the local people silent witnesses to the travelers. Winston Churchill and Theodore Roosevelt (who visited at nearly the same time - 1909/10) provide interesting contrasts of the former President and the future Prime Minister. Churchill provides insights into the Colonial government and Roosevelt discusses natural history (as he was on a collecting expedition for the Smithsonian).

I was only able to read a few works (one fiction, one non-fiction) by a Kenyan (Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, perhaps the most noted of 20/21st century writers) and a very good coming of age memoir by Binyavanga Wainaina (as well as Wainaina's biting essay, "How to Write About Africa").

Travel Accounts
"Reading" at the Botanic Garden
at the Nairobi National Museum

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