Originally written in Gĩkũyũ, I Will Marry When I Want is a play authored by Ngũgĩ wa Thiongo’o and Ngũgĩ wa Mĩriĩ. The play portrays life in pre- and post independence Kenya, and brings out the suspicions local people held towards the missionaries and imperialists, whom they saw as wielding the Bible in one hand and the gun in the other. While the missionaries brainwashed and caused the local people to be drunk with religion, they purloined their land and heaped up riches for themselves.
Ipaja land was a village in the then Western Region of Nigeria that consisted majorly of farmers whose livelihood depended on the proceeds gotten from their cocoa crops. This had been sustaining them quite well until a year when the cocoa trees became infected with a disease which had no cure except to cut down the infected trees before the disease spread on to other trees. This was the advice District officer Stanfield together with an agricultural officer, Gregory took to the people of Ipaja. This advice although innocently stated with the welfare of the farmers in mind marked the beginnings of trouble in Ipaja Kingdom. And this was where Benjamin Benjamin came in.
In Striving for the Wind, Meja Mwanji paints an emotional portrait of the inequality, the injustice and poverty exists between the rich and poor but which are often taken for granted in most societies. Like most of Mwangi’s books, this one is also written in a hilarious manner, the expressions used will have the reader laughing with every turn of the page.
Set in Kenya during the colonial period, Mwangi’s Carcase for Hounds, 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.
First published in 1979, The Cockroach Dance is the dramatic story of one man’s fight against injustice and corrupt systems. From the first sentence, “the Bathroom Man’s child was wailing his lungs sick…………..in a malicious conspiracy with the world, the gods had burdened the impoverished mechanic with a mentally-handicapped offspring…’’, the reader is mesmerized.
Things Fall Apart is the most translated African work of all time, appearing in over 50 languages, and has sold more than 8 million copies. It was not only the author’s first novel, but also among the first African books to be written in English, both of which facts make it all the more remarkable that it is still widely regarded as the seminal work of English language African literature.
Mwangi focuses on the suffering that the poor go through daily. Lack of housing, inadequate food, low wages and exploitation are some of the issues covered. One would think that this is a rather sad tale, but Meja’s talent is evident in the way he portrays serious situations in a funny way- the reader can’t help but laugh through some of the scenarios created.
Set against the backdrop of the post colonial era in Kenya, Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s Devil on the Cross depicts irony at its peak – with the devil on the cross instead of Jesus. Written entirely in Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s Gikuyu language after he declared he would no longer write in English, the book is a critical examination of Kenyan society. Deeply allegorical, it was written while the author was detained in prison.
The Jero Plays by Wole Soyinka consist of two short plays re-released as a collection in 1973. The Trials of Brother Jero first came out in 1964, while Jero’s Metamorphosis was published two years later in 1966. Both plays satirize Christianity and religious hypocrisy, particularly, the unquestioning devotion that many converts display towards their spiritual leaders, often exposing themselves to manipulation in the process.