Set in Kenya during the colonial period, Mwangi’s Carcase for Hounds, first published in 1974 by Heinmann, is a typical revolution gone bad story. The story centres on General Haraka, a former village chief turned Mau Mau warrior and Captain George Kingsley who is after him.
Haraka’s journey into being a Mau Mau warrior began when he had a misunderstanding with the district commissioner heading his village – the same Captain Kingsley who is now hunting him. Kingsley’s goal is to stop Haraka and his group, no matter what it takes but his efforts are being hindered mainly by the unpredictable weather, bad roads and Haraka’s genius. As if these were not enough, pressure has also mounted on him from his superiors who want to see results.
Lacking arms and ammunition, and unable to communicate effectively with other fighters, Haraka and his men have difficulty in keeping the Mau Mau principles alive in the younger generation. This eventually leads to the ruin of the group after Haraka falls sick. The hunters close in on Haraka and his men, who are given a deadline to surrender. After Haraka is shot, Kimamo his favorite among the fighters takes charge. Kimamo is faced with a dilemma of either leaving their present location so as to outsmart the hunters or staying where they are because of Haraka’s wound. At this time Haraka is already disillusioned because of the lack of support from other group of fighters and he concludes that his are the only fighters left. Also at this time Haraka’s men are no longer interested in fighting anymore since most do not even know why the war started in the first place.
In spite of the odds, Haraka has this unquenchable thirst to kill Kahuru, the new village chief. With Haraka wounded, Kimamo is handed the task of carrying out the General’s wish. This turns out to be the final straw for the group as most of them either desert or get killed. Ultimately, Kimamo pays with his life for failing to kill the chief.
Carcase for Hounds is a good antecedent for Ngugi wa Thiongo’s ‘Matigari’. Mwangi explains in detail the origin of the Mau Mau revolution, and how the owners came to become the hunted, and the settlers came to become the hunters.