Kenyan historian Nicholas Githuku launched his new book Mau Mau Crucible: Statehood, National Identity, and Politics of Post Colonial Kenya at the Goethe Institut, Nairobi on 23rd June 2016.
Nicholas Githuku is a Kenyan academic who is based in the USA and has had stints at various universities like West Virginia University and York College where his LinkedIn page claims he is currently an assistant professor of African History.
Back home in Kenya, he has a very interesting back story; he was named after Nikora, a man who was shot during the riot that happened when freedom fighter Harry Thuku was incarcerated in 1922. That man was his paternal grandfather. This history of struggle against oppression was there for all to see as he unleashed his new book Mau Mau Crucible: Statehood, National Identity, and Politics of Post Colonial Kenya to the Kenyan audience for the first time on Thursday 23rd June 2016 at the Goethe Institut.
The book launch started with its writer reading from one of the sections; it turns out to have been from chapter 8 of the book. In this chapter, he looks at what happened to Kenya starting with the euphoria of independence to the disappointment as the state reverted to the oppression that we are all familiar. You can watch the reading of the work below; please note that this is a 30 minute YouTube video so if you have the time dig in.
After the reading, there was a performance by singer Dan Aceda who was featured in the book; he was accompanied by a keyboard player, a drummer and guitarist. Known in Kenyan circles as the “Crown Prince of Benga,” Aceda sang a few songs including Shamba La Wanyama (Animal Farm).
With the live music done and dusted, there was a panel discussion with the writer of the book. This one featured the speaking talents of legendary journalist Kwendo Opanga, academics Dr Mary Mwiandi, and Dr Kenneth Ombongi as well as the singer Dan Aceda. They were moderated by Prof Godfrey Muriuki. The panels started with presentations from the panelists who had read the book and you can see some of them on the YouTube videos below.
With presentations having been made the discussions came fast and thick about the space of Mau Mau in Kenya during independence and how the book explains that relationship. It emerged that the book explained how the state of the country is in all this today. It became evident that the book explores how messed up the nation of Kenya as it never shed the colonial state that oppressed its residents. It seems to give hope as its writer suggests that the new constitution that was enacted in 2010 is an opportunity to get Kenya back on track.
At the end of the discussions and end of the event everyone flooded the stage demanding the book. Seriously. Kenyans hankering for a book like crazy. The writer took the microphone and made the announcement,
“Excuse me everyone. Unfortunately, the book is still clearing and will available soon. It will be going for 14k; yes that’s 14,000 shillings. Call the tall man on the side on the following number, REDUCTED, and he can supply you a copy,” he said.
Yes. We were all aghast. That’s a lot of money to pay for a book however awesome it may be. We shall save and save and try and get a hold of one copy when they finally check in. Assuming we can’t get a review copy.