Book by Wanjiru Warama
Reviewed by Pennell Paugh
November 14, 2023 (La Mesa) -- Wanjiru Warama is a resident of La Mesa, and a member of the San Diego Writers and Editors Guild. The author provides true stories of how her family and community lived in abject poverty on British colonial farms in Kenya. Her historic memoir sheds light on the struggles of Kenyan farmworkers and rural populations under the British colonial rule and the subsequent Mau Mau freedom fighters’ revolt.
Warama delves into the lives of overworked and ignored native groups as they resisted and navigated the oppressive British laws by describing the lives of her family members including herself.
Here is an excerpt: The author’s mother (Mami) becomes Christian and wants her children to be baptized.
“To her utter astonishment, the officials said Wairimũ (her newborn) was born a sinner, just like Mami’s other children.
“How can that be?” Mami asked.
“Because your husband is a pagan,” the pastor said.
To us, that meant an infidel, a nonbeliever, a primitive person. But to the church, baby Wairimũ came out a sinner because she fell under a bi-religion banner—half-pagan and half-Christian.
“’Pagan’ was a British construct; a term alien to Agȋkũyũ before their colonizers—ignorant of Agȋkũyũ ways—thrust it on them. Mami lamented that no child of hers would get baptized in its purest state, before the world contaminated its little mind. But she could do nothing about it. Church people, who did not know that they did not know, knew best. They alone knew the right pathway to the afterlife.
“The esteemed officials included the pastor, Mr. Mbuthia, Alan’s brother-in-law, who did odd jobs for Kamunge. His two helpers also worked as laborers. They knew as much as their grade four education allowed, backed by their literal application of the Bible and their commitment to the Anglican Church doctrine. I never learned how the three men came to be in charge of the “church.”
Adults calling a baby a sinner confused me. Wairimũ could hardly sit up by herself. At work, Mami dug a hole in the ground, lined it with a towel, and placed Wairimũ in it so she would not tip over. How could she sin?”
Readers will understand the struggles the natives endured during British occupation, including culture genocide, discrimination, and violence. Since the occupation began, native rebels struggled to reclaim their country. During World War II, natives were used as soldiers. When they returned from the war, the British did not dignify native fighters with any medals. In fact, they did not even notify family members that any family members had died.
Once natives had learned warfare, they hunkered down and vigorously fought for their rights and their freedoms.
\The book is a must-read for anyone interested in world cultures or British colonialism and its impact on native people.
Book-2 of The Colonized and Kenya’s Mau Mau Revolt is a legendary first account of classic African literature. It’s an eye-opening family and community memoir that captures the life-sapping drama visited by the British colonizers over Kikuyu peasant and other natives in Kenya during the first two-thirds of the 20th century.
The book is astonishingly positive given the abject poverty under which Warama and her siblings suffered. She tells a compelling story. I look forward to reading the author’s personal story—how she became educated and immigrated to the United States.
Author Wanjiru Warama has written five books and one personal essay. Her first book, in THE COLONIZED series (THE COLONIZED and the Scramble for Africa), is about the lives she, her family, and her Kikuyu community led on that British colonial farm.
A philanthropist, Wanjirũ is a member of The Rotary Club, a lifetime member of the Friends of the San Diego Public Library, and a benefactor of Gitura Secondary and Gitura Primary schools in Kenya. She has book signings at the following dates and time:
4:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Lemon Grove Mobile Farmers' Market,
3200 Main St., Lemon Grove, California 91945
Every First Saturday of the month
10:00 am – 8:00 p.m.
Westfield Mission Valley
1640 Camino Del Río No.
San Diego, CA 912108