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A story with the power to change how people view the last years of colonialism in East Africa, The Boy Is Gone portrays the struggle for Kenyan independence in the words of a freedom fighter whose life spanned the twentieth century's most dramatic transformations. Born into an impoverished farm family in the Meru Highlands, Japhlet Thambu grew up wearing goatskins and lived to stand before his community dressed for business in a pressed suit, crisp tie, and freshly polished shoes. For most of the last four decades, however, he dressed for work in the primary school classroom and on his lush tea farm. The General, as he came to be called from his leadership of the Mau Mau uprising sixty years ago, narrates his life story in conversation with Laura Lee Huttenbach, a young American who met him while backpacking in Kenya in 2006. A gifted storyteller with a keen appreciation for language and a sense of responsibility as a repository of his people's history, the General talks of his childhood in the voice of a young boy, his fight against the British in the voice of a soldier, and his long life in the voice of shrewd elder. While his life experiences are his alone, his story adds immeasurably to the long history of decolonization as it played out across Africa, Asia, and the Americas.
Swahili was once an obscure dialect of an East African Bantu language. Today more than one hundred million people use it: Swahili is to eastern and central Africa what English is to the world. From its embrace in the 1960s by the black freedom movement in the United States to its adoption in 2004 as the African Union’s official language, Swahili has become a truly international language. How this came about and why, of all African languages, it happened only to Swahili is the story that John M. Mugane sets out to explore. The remarkable adaptability of Swahili has allowed Africans and others to tailor the language to their needs, extending its influence far beyond its place of origin. Its symbolic as well as its practical power has evolved from its status as a language of contact among diverse cultures, even as it embodies the history of communities in eastern and central Africa and throughout the Indian Ocean world. The Story of Swahili calls for a reevaluation of the widespread assumption that cultural superiority, military conquest, and economic dominance determine a language’s prosperity. This sweeping history gives a vibrant, living language its due, highlighting its nimbleness from its beginnings to its place today in the fast-changing world of global communication.
A new era in world history began when Atlantic maritime trade among Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas opened up in the fifteenth century, setting the stage for massive economic and cultural change. In Making Money, Colleen Kriger examines the influence of the global trade on the Upper Guinea Coast two hundred years later—a place and time whose study, in her hands, imparts profound insights into Anglo-African commerce and its wider milieu. A stunning variety of people lived in this coastal society, struggling to work together across deep cultural divides and in the process creating a dynamic creole culture. Kriger digs further than any previous historian of Africa into the records of England’s Royal African Company to illuminate global trade patterns, the interconnectedness of Asian, African, and European markets, and—most remarkably—the individual lives that give Making Money its human scale. By inviting readers into the day-to-day workings of early modern trade in the Atlantic basin, Kriger masterfully reveals the rich social relations at its core. Ultimately, this accessible book affirms Africa’s crucial place in world history during a transitional period, the early modern era.
In 1963 David P. Sandgren went to Kenya to teach in a small, rural school for boys, where he remained for the next four years. These were heady times for Kenyans, as the nation gained its independence, approved a new constitution, and held its first elections. In the school where Sandgren taught, the sons of Gikuyu farmers rose to the challenges of this post colonial era and, in time, entered Kenyan society as adults, joining Kenya’s first generation of post colonial elites. In Mau Mau’s Children, Sandgren has reconnects with these former students. Drawing on more than one hundred interviews, he provides readers with a collective biography of the lives of Kenya’s first postcolonial elite, stretching from their 1940s childhood to the peak of their careers in the 1990s. Through these interviews, Mau Mau’s Children shows the trauma of growing up during the Mau Mau Rebellion, the nature of nationalism in Kenya, the new generational conflicts arising, and the significance of education and Gikuyu ethnicity on his students' path to success.

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