April 19, 2015

When The Sun Goes Down And Other Stories From Africa and Beyond (edited by Emelia Ilieva, Waveney Olembo)

When The Sun Goes Down And Other Stories From Africa and Beyond (edited Emelia Ilieva, Waveney Olembo)The sixteen short stories featured in this collection (published in 2010) come from various corners of Africa and beyond. Contributors include renowned authors like Rydah Jacobs (South Africa), Moses Isegawa (Uganda), Grace Ogot (Kenya), Sefi Atta (Nigeria), and many others.

The stories, some published before or appearing for the first time, cover captivating examples of challenges faced in our present society. The reader is bound to go through a rollercoaster of emotions as the themes of the stories have a wide range: from corruption and corrupt regimes to fear or guilt and how they can cripple an individuals’ thinking; from a mother’s concern for her children to sickness and the stigma that comes with it; and from the different cultural diversities to the cruelty of most political regimes in Africa. But there are also some positive themes and stories that tell of hope and renewed dreams that come when the sun goes down.

When The Sun Goes Down, the story on which the book title is based, is written by Goro wa Kamau. It is a story about HIV/AIDS and the stigma that still comes with it in most societies. Steve is an established businessman who has moved from a struggling open air mechanic with hardly any friends to a successful entrepreneur with crowds of friends. But Kanja has been his friend since childhood. Steve’s life has been one long struggle full of drudgery but when he meets Maureen; she lights the sun in his life. Maureen is widow and she refuses to marry him saying she has a lot of baggage from her past. They remain friends but before long, have a child together. Then Maureen discovers she has the HIV virus, Steve too and before long the whole village is talking about them, the friends disappear; only Kanja sticks around. Steve is grateful he still has a friend:

“…………when you are suffering from AIDS, one good friend is all you need to make life less suffocating. A person is only a person through other persons.”

It is obvious that Kanja only sticks around to confirm the rumors and Maureen breaks down when she learns that to be smiled at is not to be loved. Steve’s love, courage and support for Maureen endear him to the reader but the stigma they face is upsetting.

I enjoyed the collection and would especially recommend it for younger readers. Each story has a short bio about the author and some questions to think about and appreciate the lesson behind each story. It features beautiful illustrations too.

About Diane Ninsiima

Dianah Ninsiima is an Environmentalist, currently working with a Non Governmental Organization involved in healthcare promotion and community development. She also reviews books (African literature) for Africa Book Club (www.africabookclub.com). She can be contacted at dianendaba@gmail.com.


  1. I think the only true friend who might have stick to Steve is Tom a young teacher. Kanja betrays Steve he cant even take the Juice Maurine offered him. I think he triggered the death of Maurine.


  2. i love the story n the fact that the themes can b directly linked to the society

  3. i like the story

  4. its a good story that identifies with the society and especially with a person living with hiv & aids

  5. Dan Kóchola says:

    This is a true life reflecting story of how we most behave in the worst when it comes to being a friend and keeping the Allegiance of a true friend. Kanja pretends but he is revealed not to be a true friend in fact not even a true christian as he claims!
    Maureen like many others, is moved deeply by this, bearing that this was her husband’s best friend. Let us change and learn to accommodate all people irregardless of age, race,colour or tribe,health and even financial status!

  6. ketty tamara says:

    so touching and apt story.very relevant to all ages .


    The question that is so dear to my heart is;If Steve was the one to be positive and Maurren HIV negative,would she have married him?

  8. william shisundi says:

    realy good story i like it,so touching my inner fillings..

  9. I like the story

  10. The story is realy emotional,the fact that the person u thnk is your friend ends up not to be shows wat we ought to expect in our life time. we should choose our friends wisely.

  11. a nice story,thats how we must live instead of blaiming each other ,

  12. Kipkirui kebenei says:

    Sun going down is symbolic to the lose of hope by the characters in the story starting from maureen’s husband down to maureen,steve and kimotho the son!Some good stuff to read!

  13. dolgen oeri says:

    i also think kanja is not the best friend

  14. kevin munyasa says:

    this is a good story which is reflecting the real life of how people treat those who suffer from anything but the author tries to bring unity among the readers.its a good book to read.

  15. Josmik njoroge says:

    I thnk the story is pointing to africa culture ,how we treat other when we make a step forward…i lyk it!

  16. i appreciate this book very much as it has really encouraged me to always be loving to those suffering from HIV\AIDS

  17. of course i love the book .and i would like to encourage those who are suffering from HIV/AIDS to accept their situation and live positively as STEVE did.

  18. Innocent Chesco says:

    It is one of the story compiling many lessons we should all learn. How to treat the infected(steve),checking our friends(kanja),love and relationships(steve nd maureen) et cetera

  19. faith mwende says:

    I really liked it kudos Goro

  20. Atunga josephat says:

    Aids does not kill but its the the stigma that kills so please lets embrace love and concern to our brothers and sisters that’s the only we shall have become health good will ambassadors

  21. bernard kamufti says:

    I the death of Maureen has been caused by inhumane in nature character Kanja .Kanja on a great deal serves to spread rumour and thats why he asks is it true what people say.Stigmatisation creates lonelinss and thats why Maureen preffers sleeping.. I like the book…

  22. i like the book very much as at it make us know how much we must be responsible for our friends at any time ,situation and anything could be happening to them and important is our LOVE to them not treating unfairly or stigmatizing them

  23. Renah Daisy says:

    stigmatization kills faster than the disease itself,at least the story is. relevant as it directly relates to our immediate society

  24. Meshack dinga says:

    The story shows real life situation,just like maureen many other african die of stigma but not of Aids.Through kanja we can see the african maintaining there status quo myths about Aids he demonstrates ths by refusing to take the juice served by maurine to me these is what kills maureen…

  25. phine owedhi says:

    the story is logical in the society that we live in.what matters in life is our attitude,if we are pessimistic like maurene,we shall die at a tender age and we wont be able to see the stars{our hope n brighter future}however if we r optimistic like steve we shall overcome all the challenges in life n see the stars n succeed no matter which obstacle succumbs us.

  26. i just loved the way steve loved and surpoted maureen……awesome….

  27. I like the story too, its educative to the society today

  28. riungustephen says:

    this story is meant to fight the stereotypes that are deeply stuck into the minds of the few people in our contemporary society. AIDS/HIV is not the end of life and many living today are either affected or infected. i love comparing this story with the late Wahome Mutahi’s novel ” HOUSE OF DOOM” and Francis Imbuga; “MIRACLE OF REMERA” what a fascinating story line.

  29. to the victims of circumstance do not shed tears because it might make not to see the future as once said by of the musicians the disease is just like malaria and all you need to do is to , do exercise, eat well and life will still continue, to my realization girls are accepting the disease rather than getting pregnant so it matter of self- control with love as steve deed .

  30. elijah muthusi says:

    A great short story in the way the issues of stigmatization and HIV/ AIDS have been artistically handled

  31. I see a missing link here ……. was Steve fully aware of Maureen’s status at the time of marriage?

  32. i like the kind of love expressed by steve vs maureen

  33. Philemon Chepkok says:

    I sympathize with Steve and Maureen for what they are undergoing;mental and emotional torture.Indeed, this is the book of the day.Through the two characters we see the characteristics of a true love!

  34. Touching…great piece

  35. julliet says:

    I think this is gud stry esspecially fr thos who discriminate PLWA…..Kanja brought so much stigma to Maureen whom he once seduced to be his galfrnd….tht shudnt happen..we shud treattje HIV victims carefully

  36. I sympathize with morine and and stve for wat kind of life they hv gon thorough

  37. Nicholsaas Mule says:

    kanja must have contributed to the death of maureen, the story is really emotional but also very educating.

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