Abiola Bonuola says:
A manuscript without a little bit of history and reality is really no book. That’s my opinion.
To me, Weep Not Child is an investigative story about the experiences of the Kenyan people before independence. Kenya, in East Africa was to the settlers (Europeans) a land of milk and honey due to it’s fertile land and “facility for big game hunting” compared to the lands of the West Africans.
The introduction in the book written by Ime Ikiddeh tells us that, “settlers could cut out and farm an indefinite number of acres and turn the original African owners into labourers on low wages…and by the end of the Second World War, it was clear to a large part of the African population that they were little better than slaves on their own soil.”
Although the book is 54 years old, published by Heinemann’s African Writer’s Series, it feels like a bee sting to me, an African, who did not witness the war to freedom from the British society. I only heard and read about it from elder ones and in history books, having no idea what the reality of the situation was.
The book opens the blinds to the sun of truth presenting how bitter the people of Kenya were during the Mau Mau uprising. It’s even more surprising how it could be the first major English novel published by an East African because I’m wondering how it could have been accepted at the time when the wounds were sour.
The writer Ngugi Wa Thiong O who now writes only in Guruntu is a Wole Soyinka who sort to validate history through his own experiences in the minds of his readers. His technique of telling this story is not a common one. In fact, I moved from an ancestral story to Njoroge’s dream to reality to tit bits of another character’s secret scene to the women’s play and pain.
Weep Not Child began with a woman, Nyokabi and Njoroge, the heroes and ended with the same characters exhibiting the talent of this writer. The story was sweet and soft and dreamy at first and then it became hard and real at the end.
I loved the love in the book. The love between Njoroge and Mwihaki, Nyokabi and Ngotho, these were unique to the situation.
I loved the love between Njoroge and his brother Kamau who was a carpenter’s apprentice. One scene that cracked me up between them was when Kamau suddenly professed deep knowledge and thoughtfulness that even Njoroge was surprised.
The themes are obvious; racism, colonialism, war, love, religion, family values, anger and so on. The book is poetic yet prosaic.
Compared to other non-fiction antique books I’ve read such as Wole Soyinka’s The Lion and the Jewel, (a review on that will be written soon) it is an unusual classic. The writer’s purpose was definitely fulfilled in this book linking the story to the future lives of the devastated Kenya people reminding us of the cliché, “where there is life, there is hope”.