Just a note to say that I’m reading it. Making my way through it at some leisure. Tackling Ngugi isn’t a quick and easy thing – but it’s rewarding nevertheless. It’s been a while since I read his work, and I realized how out of touch with the stalwarts of African literature I’d become as I did so — looking at the back of the book and the picture of Ngugi sitting in what I presume is his living room or study or some other such indoor space in Los Angeles, California. It’s worth it, though.
And it’s worth revisiting Ngugi himself. In his words:
He began the novel in 1997, before Moi ended his 24 years in power. For the ruler, whose western suits are patched with leopard skin, he drew not only on Moi, but “postcolonial dictators – Marcos, Idi Amin, Mobutu, Pinochet, Suharto. There’s almost a comic element, except that they’re so dangerous.” The west, he says, colludes, “as though they need an absurd figure to laugh at while making sure he meets their needs; after the cold war, they became disposable”. Yet some adapted. As the ruler says, “What I did against communists, I can do against terrorists.” The novel marks a break with realism. “How do you satirise someone like Moi, who says he wants all his ministers to be parrots?”