“The important work of recording Kenyan voices is brought to bear in Huttenbach’s excellent compilation: the General’s retelling of the Mau Mau period is highly vivid and complex.”
Focus on the Horn
“Those of us who teach African history are always looking for accessible and engaging books to assign our students. Africa is a vast unknown to most American college students. Most of us have developed strategies of easing them into the subject gently. Huttenbach’s book will fit the bill.”
John Edwin Mason, professor of African history at the University of Virginia and author of One Love, Ghoema Beat: Inside the Capetown Carnival
“Thambu’s account of the Mau Mau conflict—the central focus of the book—is unique among all the memoirs written by former Mau Mau: it is the only one authored by a non- Kikuyu African. …[It] has the potential to reshape the way we think about Mau Mau in Meru, and more broadly, outside Kikuyuland.”
International Journal of African Historical Studies
“Laura Lee did what every one of us in the African history field has always wanted to do. She actually lived with the family of her subject. They ate together, worked together (picking tea), stayed together. There is simply no better way for a White outsider to penetrate the core of Meru history.”
Jeffrey A. Fadiman, author of When We Began, There Were Witchmen: An Oral History from Mount Kenya
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.
Laura Lee P. Huttenbach, a graduate of the University of Virginia, has written dispatches from South America, the Middle East, and Africa. More info →
Laura Lee P. Huttenbach on “The Boy Is Gone” – Questions and AnswersDownload
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Barack Obama’s political ascendancy has focused worldwide attention on Kenya. Carotenuto and Luongo argue that efforts to cast Obama as a “son of the soil” of the Lake Victoria basin invite insights into the politicized uses of Kenya’s past. Ideal for classroom use and directed at a general readership interested in global affairs, Obama and Kenya offers an important counterpoint to the many popular, but inaccurate texts about Kenya’s history and Obama’s place in it.
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.
A clear and comprehensive introduction for those with little or no experience in planning or undertaking oral history projects.
Encompassing history, geography, and political science, MacArthur’s study evaluates the role of geographic imagination and the impact of cartography not only as means of expressing imperial power and constraining colonized populations, but as tools for the articulation of new political communities and resistance.
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