Zimbabwe: The Hairdresser of Harare by Tendai Huchu


HarareAbout the Book

Vimbai is the best hairdresser in Mrs. Khumalo’s salon, and she is secure in her status until the handsome, smooth-talking Dumisani shows up one day for work. Despite her resistance, the two become friends, and eventually, Vimbai becomes Dumisani’s landlady. He is as charming as he is deft with the scissors, and Vimbai finds that he means more and more to her. Yet, by novel’s end, the pair’s deepening friendship—used or embraced by Dumisani and Vimbai with different futures in mind—collapses in unexpected brutality.

The novel is an acute portrayal of a rapidly changing Zimbabwe. In addition to Vimbai and Dumisani’s personal development, the book shows us how social concerns shape the lives of everyday people.


I love reading African Literature. There is something about reading books with characters that you identify with. These books depict a culture that I know and live. There may be differences but it is still familiar. Reading African literature makes me feel like I am back home. Yeah, I never really left but I do read a lot of books from other parts of the world so it takes time before I am back to African Lit.

“I can only say that friendship should rise above man-made laws, which tend to be capricious by their very nature.”
Tendai Huchu, The Hairdresser of Harare

The Hairdressers of Harare is set at the capital of Zimbabwe. Vimbai is the lead hairdresser at a popular salon. You know those hairdressers who everyone wants. The ones who works magic and always seems to be fully booked. That was Vimbai until Dumi showed up. Suddenly, Vimbai’s position was threatened. She stopped being the ‘it’ hairdresser. However, she soon realizes that this was the least of her worries.

The book is set in Zimbabwe and this plays a very key role in the story. I admit that I don’t know much about the country.Cultural issues such as language and property inheritance also come up. I thought I knew about some of the issues affecting the country like inflation. However, devaluation of currency still shocked me. One thousand dollars this month may be valued at half that amount by the next month.  Homosexuality is also a key theme in the book. If you don’t know, homosexuality is a sensitive issue in the country. I first read about this was in The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah which I reviewed here.

I really liked Vimbai. She is a single mother who has been ostracized by her family. You will have to read the book to understand the feud. She is strong, a bit arrogant but with a soft heart. I didn’t agree with some of her decisions at first. However, I understood the motivations behind her actions. On the other hand, there was something about Dumi that really drew me to him. He was confident almost cocky. He was a nice guy just stuck in what seemed like unfortunate circumstances. I liked Dumi.

This book is about love (all kinds) and hate. There is a lot of prejudice illustrated by the characters. What is even more heartbreaking is the fact that it is based on reality. The issues of racial relations and homosexuality make this quite a tough read. There wasn’t really much of a twist/reveal but I still enjoyed reading it even with the knowledge that things would go wrong. I feel like I learned more about Zimbabwe, the culture and the people. The book is realistic, emotional but quite memorable.

It is only fair though that I warn you that some of the themes may be offensive to some readers. I remember when I wrote a review for The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin, some people expressed anger towards the polygamist culture depicted in the book.  However, I think that there is nothing wrong with the author including such aspects of culture. I don’t agree with polygamy and a number of other cultural practices around Africa but as someone once said, just because we don’t like the facts, doesn’t mean that we can change them (I heard this quote on Survivor). Therefore, just because I don’t like some of the cultural practices, it doesn’t mean that they should be ignored and shunned by authors because that will be unrealistic. Right? Anyway, this is a book that I definitely recommend to everyone interested in African Lit and especially in books set in Zimbabwe.

 About the author



Tendai Huchu’s first novel, The Hairdresser of Harare, was released in 2010 to critical acclaim, and has been translated into German, French, Italian and Spanish. His short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The Manchester Review, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Gutter, Interzone, AfroSF, Wasafiri, Warscapes, The Africa Report, Kwani? and numerous other publications. In 2013 he received a Hawthornden Fellowship and a Sacatar Fellowship. He was shortlisted for the 2014 Caine Prize. His new novel is The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician.

New Feature Announcement

Last year, I wrote an article on From Africa, with love: African Literature (You can read it here). To date, this still remains the most popular post that I have ever published on this blog. The response was amazing and I was inspired to share my love of African Lit. Unfortunately, I have been swamped by ARCs for quite a while and so I haven’t been reading this genre as much as I would have wanted to.

Recently, I had a conversation with my sister, Darkowaa, from Ghana. Darkowaa runs this wonderful blog, https://africanbookaddict.com. Talking about books and authors from Africa rekindled my love for the genre. So I have decided to start a new feature. So for two Sundays every month, I will be sharing reviews of different books from Africa.

“It’s difficult to stop loving someone, even when they have done something that you once thought unforgivable. There isn’t an on off switch for love.”
Tendai Huchu, The Hairdresser of Harare

Review: The Winter Girls (Agent Tori Hunter #2) by Roger Stelljes

When seventeen-year-old Savannah Devenish vanishes from her family’s remote vacation cabin in Minnesota, FBI Agent Tori Hunter races along treacherous icy roads to be first on the scene. Savannah’s parents are frantic with worry for their beautiful, carefree girl. Haunted by memories of her own missing sister, Tori vows to do whatever it takes to reunite this family.

When the police uncover that Savannah’s father Jacob was having an affair, they suspect his involvement, but Tori is convinced his despair is genuine. Her close relationship with the chief detective means the team won’t listen, so Tori strikes off alone, persuading Savannah’s distraught best friends to share their secrets. It seems this ‘good girl’ was sneaking out to parties to meet up with a mysterious man…

Then another teenager is snatched from the street, snowy footprints and a discarded hot chocolate cup the last trace of her. The girls are the same age, strikingly pale and blonde. Is a twisted collector stealing them away? And what chance is there that they are being kept alive?

With a deadly snowstorm closing in, Tori battles the elements—and her own team—as she follows the trail to an abandoned cabin by a frozen lake. In the basement are bedrooms filled with clothes for teenage girls. Tori was too late to save her own missing sister twenty years ago, but can she find these girls before they disappear forever? 


The Winter Girls is the second book in the Agent Tori Hunter series by Roger Stelljes. Tori is a former FBI Agent currently residing in her hometown in Minnesota. Although not an active agent, Tori helps the local police department especially in cases dealing with missing children. In this story, Tori investigates the abduction of Savanna Devenish, a 17year old who was taken from her family’s remote vacation home.

This is quite a suspenseful read with action right from the first page. The action really never lets up as Tori and the other investigators are hot on the trail of the abductors. The story is narrated through multiple POVs including the investigators, abductors and the taken girls. I like the fact that although we get to know the baddies pretty early in the story, their motives are not revealed until the final chapters.

I enjoyed this installment and the action-packed investigation. I am not usually a fan of romance but I don’t mind what Tori has going on with the Lead Detective, Will. It adds to their character development without distracting readers from the well-written plot.

Bad snowy weather, isolated locations, international crime syndicate, this is a highly thrilling, captivating read. I recommend the Agent Tori Hunter series to all fans of this genre.

Leopard at the Door by Jennifer McVeigh



After six years in England, Rachel has returned to Kenya and the farm where she spent her childhood, but the beloved home she’d longed for is much changed. Her father’s new companion—a strange, intolerant woman—has taken over the household. The political climate in the country grows more unsettled by the day and is approaching the boiling point. And looming over them all is the threat of the Mau Mau, a secret society intent on uniting the native Kenyans and overthrowing the whites.

As Rachel struggles to find her place in her home and her country, she initiates a covert relationship, one that will demand from her a gross act of betrayal. One man knows her secret, and he has made it clear how she can buy his silence. But she knows something of her own, something she has never told anyone. And her knowledge brings her power.



Leopard at the Door by Jennifer McVeigh begins with Rachel’s return to Kenya. Rachel hasn’t been around since her mother died about six years before. Coming back, she quickly realizes that Kenya is not what it used to be. The country is undergoing some changes which have caused insecurity. The land is hostile and even more so when Rachel finds that her father has a new woman in his house.

I was really excited when I received an ARC of this book. I have read plenty of books set in colonial era. My favorite ones were by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o. I was curious about this story for various reasons. First of all, I haven’t read any books set in the period that are narrated from the POV of a settler. Secondly, the book mentions Mau Mau. The world has a negative perception about this rebel group. I know that they committed all sorts of atrocities against white settlers and their Kenyan supporters. However, for most Kenyans, the rebels are referred to as heroes. To date, we have monuments to celebrate and honor them such as the Dedan Kimathi statute at the heart of Nairobi. The British government was not going to give Kenya independence. Dialogue had failed and so the only way to get freedom was through an armed struggle and so young men went into the forests and planned their attacks, many sacrificed their lives for their countries. I was curious about the representation of the group in this book. Would the author demonize them or give the Mau Mau a fair representation? Lastly, one of the MCs in this book was Kikuyu. Honestly, that is something that I never imagined that I would ever see in an ARC. Kikuyu is one of the 42 ethnic groups in Kenya and that is my community.

As you can already tell, I had high expectations with this book. I loved the setting. I think the author did a fantastic job in portraying colonial Kenya. She described the setting in an accurate, vivid manner. The lack of roads was interesting to read about. It made me think about how we take things for granted. There was a time when a trip that now takes two hours used to take a day. I also liked the description of the wild in the ranches. Before the government established parks, animals used to roam free in Kenya and I liked how the author was able to bring that aspect into the story.  The author had also really researched Kenya. Most of the places that are mentioned in the book still exist like the Mathari mental hospital and the towns such as Nakuru, Mombasa and Nairobi.

The MC was a likeable character. I liked how Rachel was able to fit into the new environment. She got along well with the Kikuyus on the ranch. She adapted to the environment and this could be seen in little things that she did like fishing. On the other hand, I really disliked Sara. I can’t talk much about her but let me just say, she really got on my nerves. Her treatment of the Africans was terrible. It reminded me of all the ugly, racist stories that I have heard about the era. And if Sara was terrible, then Steven Lockhart was a disgusting human being. He made my skin crawl. There are other characters that stood out such as Michael, the Kikuyu who befriended Rachel. I liked his background story. Other minor characters that were memorable include Logan, Mungai, Njeri and Kihika. Rachel’s dad was one of the MCs though his presence was not felt as much as the others. In short, the characters were very well crafted.

Of course I have to mention the Mau Mau. This group was described as ruthless. They killed and forcefully administered oaths of loyalty. The group was a character in the book. What I liked about their representation was the fact that it was balanced and depicted reality. The book had characters in support and against the secret society. I also like that there were characters that supported the struggle but not everything that was done by the group. It made me smile when I saw references of Dedan Kimathi and Jomo Kenyatta. I just loved how realistic the story-line was.

This book was quite a joy to read. The author took me to the colonial era and made me reminiscent of stories of the past. It reminded me of my mother’s story about the night of independence when Kenya’s flag was raised on Mount Kenya. The author managed to tell the story in such a way that the era came alive. My only issue with the story was the use of local language. As a speaker of both Swahili and Kikuyu, some words and phrases felt off to me. For instance; some dogs were referred to as shenzis. That cracked me up. Shenzi is Swahili for idiot so I am not sure how that fits with dogs really but anyway, perhaps these were phrases that were used before my time. Shenzi though… lol.

Another thing that I really liked was the tension in the book. The book made me feel nervous. I was terrified of the imminent attack by the MauMau. With every news report, I wondered when it would happen and I feared for some of the characters. The tension kept me anxiously turning pages. I imagined the MauMau from the POV of the settlers and I was terrified.  This was a suspenseful, engaging read with very memorable characters. If you are interested in historical fiction set in Africa then I definitely recommend Leopard at the Door by Jennifer McVeigh.  Lovers of Kenyan literature will also enjoy it. If you read this book, let me know, I would love to discuss it with you.

Blog Tour Review: Last Day Alive (Detective Kimberly King #2) by J.R. Adler @bookouture @JRAdlerAuthor

One hot summer’s evening, ten-year-old Piper Chase went for a bike ride. She never came home…

Piper cycles off one hot Oklahoma evening for a sleepover with her new friend Miley from summer camp. But when she doesn’t come home, her grandparents raise the alarm. Their little angel is missing, last seen on her pink bicycle, heading towards the dark woods on Black Heart Lane.

Detective Kimberley King knows that the first twenty-four hours in a missing child investigation are the most critical, but with no witnesses, and darkness falling in the small town of Dead Woman Crossing, she begins to fear the worst. She longs to find the little girl with wide blue eyes and an infectious smile, but when her team discovers Piper’s body in a woodland clearing, lying on a bed of moss, something inside her dies.

In a town where people leave their doors unlocked, Kimberley is terrified that another little girl might be snatched, and that night she holds her own daughter tighter. Desperate to find the monster who took the life of an innocent child, Kimberley chases down all the leads she has. The summer camp counsellor, who got too close to Piper and Miley and lost his job. Piper’s shifty uncle, who arrived back in town the day she disappeared…

Then she gets a call that chills her to the bone. Miley has gone missing. Has the killer who stole one little angel just taken another?


I enjoyed the first book in this series and have been keenly looking out for updates on the publication of a second installment. Needless to say, I was super excited to see this stunner on NetGalley. I am glad to say that it is even better than the first one. This is definitely one of the best crime thriller series out there.

Piper went out cycling to her friend’s house when she disappeared without a trace. The police are in a race against time to find the little girl. Experts say that the first 24 hours are important in determining the outcome of the missing children’s cases. Unfortunately, a lot of time went by before Piper was reported missing. Tensions heightened when a second girl also goes missing from her home.

Dead Woman Crossing is a great setting. Small town, expansive backwoods, nosy neighbors and a creepy history from which the town derives its name, what is not to love? It is the perfect setting for this mystery. It adds to the complexity of the case as there were so many places where the little girl could have gone. At the same time, it gives readers an interesting pool of suspects.

The case is complex with many red herrings. I couldn’t correctly guess the Perp’s identity until the reveal. I had some guesses along the way but all were wrong. The narrative style with the POV alternating between different characters made this quite a suspenseful read. I also like how the author included short chapters by the Perp. They felt like little explosions going off at intervals throughout out the story.

Detective King grew on me from the first book. She is a deftly crafted main character. I love how the author portrays her as a no-nonsense detective with a hard exterior at work and then we get all the softness when we see her as a mom. Her portrayal as a mom in this installment was so relatable. I remember driving home with my husband and telling him about Detective King’s daughter who is always unplugging her phone like our little girl does. For a minute there, I almost forgot that Kimberley is fictional. I love this detective and the support characters such as Sam and Barb. I can’t wait to see how their story progresses especially since this installment hinted at a change in some of the relationship dynamics.

Last Day Alive turned out to be a brilliant read. Fast paced, twisty with an unpredictable ending, definitely a great installment to the Detective Kimberly King Series. What a stunning read.  

J.R. Adler, no pressure, we really do need the third book ASAP though 😉

Author Bio:

Originally from Wisconsin, J.R. Adler currently lives in Ithaca, New York with her husband, Drew, and her English Bulldog, Winston. When not writing, you can find her reading, playing board games, travelling, and binge watching The Office for the umpteenth time.


Buy Links:
Amazon: https://bit.ly/3wNKqfAApple: https://apple.co/3oUoiuMKobo: https://bit.ly/3aIg97CGoogle: https://bit.ly/2OGRHwp

Please do check out the rest of the stops on the tour:

Not Another Reading/Blogging Update

I haven’t been regular on here for a while now. Last year, I had a newborn and didn’t have much time for anything else apart from raising Rylee. Now that she is 16 months old, I can read and blog a bit more but the energy seems totally gone. Instead, I spend my free time in the evenings watching reality TV. I am currently watching ‘ The Challenge’ on MTV and ‘Good Girls’. I have just finished watching ‘The Circle, UK’. When I am not watching TV, I spend quite a bit of time mindlessly going through social media, sad innit?

It now takes a week or so to get through one book (300 pages). I don’t really participate in any weekly memes/bookish thematic posts at the moment so without any reviews, I have nothing to post on here.

I do want to keep this blog active for various reasons. At the moment, its part of my writer’s resume and helps me in seeking writing opportunities locally. I do Content Creation and Ghost Writing from time to time as a ‘side hustle’. I also offer talks on blogging to students at the University where I work and use my blogging experience for illustrations. Next Semester, I will begin teaching Creative Writing to Undergrad students. Apart from the books that I have published, blogging and online writing is something else that gives me the confidence to speak as an ‘expert’ in creative writing and online content creation.

Of course apart from my career, I also blog because I enjoy talking about books and interacting with other readers. This is the primary reason why I got into book blogging. So why am I unable to read and blog as much? I don’t know. Perhaps I have burned out especially after reading cop procedural non-stop for a year. I am so mixed up by the detectives right now lol. Maybe I just need to switch up my genres a bit? Or maybe I have the dreaded reading/blogging slump?

Anyway, I just wanted to check in and apologize for not being around as much. I’d also appreciate some advise on how I can keep this blog active when I don’t read and review as much as I used to. What kind of bookish posts are y’all posting apart from reviews? If you have ever gone through a reading/blogging slump, how did you get out of it?

I hope you are all doing well and keeping safe. Take care. Happy reading and do enjoy the week. Cheers.

Book Review: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Trevor.pngAbout the Book

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother: his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The eighteen personal essays collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.


I saw Born a Crime by Trevor Noah on NetGalley and decided to request it although I really didn’t think that I would get approved. Two weeks later, I had the book. If you have been following this blog then you may have seen a number of posts that I have written about the book. I couldn’t stop talking about it even before I started reading it. I have featured it on my Diversity Thursday Spotlight post, Ten Books to read if your book club likes African Literature ,WWW Posts, monthly-wrap and Friday Finds. Yes, that is how excited I was about this memoir.

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah is a collection of essays. In each essay, Trevor narrates stories about his life and focuses on a particular memory or event against a backdrop of South Africa’s history. The main theme of this book is apartheid and life as a biracial child during this dark period. As Trevor explains, interracial relationships were punishable by law although the whites were freed with a warning while the blacks got imprisoned. He talks about spending his childhood  behind closed doors because his family was afraid that the government would take him away and arrest his mother. He also talks of how apartheid separated him from his father. These narrations are emotional and I found myself angered by the injustices that the black people in South Africa went through for so many years. Racism is illogical and ugly and I never knew  just how bad it was in SA before reading this book. It is crazy to think that I was born in the same year as Trevor, grew up in Africa like he did but under totally different circumstances. Growing up, I didn’t know much about apartheid apart from little bits of information through history lessons and movies like Sarafina. I was 10 years old when apartheid ended.

Trevor narrates his story the same way that he presents his standup comedies; mixing reality with humor. I found myself laughing through the chapters and sometimes wondering if I really should be laughing. I mean they are serious issues but Trevor just has his own way of narrating things so that they are serious and funny at the same time.

“But the more we went to church and the longer I sat in those pews the more I learned about how Christianity works: If you’re a Native American and you pray to the wolves, you’re a savage. If you’re African and you pray to your ancestors, you’re a savage. But when white people pray to a guy who turns water to wine, well, that’s just common sense.”

The story takes us through his experiences during apartheid. He also shares his experience with domestic violence. At the same time, this is a story of a man determined to get through a tough life and succeed in a world in which he was never supposed to exist. The stories about his childhood escapades were hilarious. As a self-confessed naughty kid with a funny mom, he had so many hilarious adventures.  I also like how Trevor mixed historical background and personal stories to create better understanding of events which is great especially for those living outside South Africa.

“People always lecture the poor: “Take responsibility for yourself! Make something of yourself!” But with what raw materials are the poor to make something of themselves? People”

The final chapter in Born a Crime by Trevor Noah was  tough to read. I have heard him speak about his mother getting shot before. If you have watched his standup comedies in SA, then you may have seen that bit about his brother calling him to tell him that their mum had been shot. However, I never knew the circumstances that led to that call. It was heartbreaking to see what his mother went through. It is even worse to think that the same thing still happens especially here. Women get battered while everyone looks away. Sometimes from the outside, it feels hopeless because what can you really do? You can’t stop the fights and you can’t also call the cops because they will do nothing about it. It was a sad reality. That is the thing about this memoir; his story is my story and everyone else’s story. It may not be exactly the same but it is something that everyone knows about and may have experienced at some point in life.

born-a-crime-2Born a Crime by Trevor Noah is a book that I highly recommend to everyone. I am not just saying this because I like the guy and think that he is brilliant and funny (just mentioning it in case it is not yet obvious). However, this is a book about family, a mother-son relationship, friendship, racism and a person’s ability to overcome all hurdles in life. It is also a coming of age story. I am so proud of Trevor for all that he has achieved in life. He is an inspiration to all the people who have ever faced any adversity and felt like they don’t belong.  I think this is an inspiring story for our continent too. I mean watching Trevor touring the world and now hosting the Daily show, overcoming so much to get there….wow!  This is an inspiring memoir that will make you laugh and cry through the chapters (sometimes at the same time). If you are looking for a diverse read then you should definitely pick this one. If you want to understand more about South Africa and Apartheid (from an insider’s view point), this is the book for you. Seriously though, just get the memoir. It is a wonderful!

“Language, even more than color, defines who you are to people.”
Trevor Noah, Born a Crime

I received this book from NetGalley and Spiegel & Grau in exchange for an honest review. I am really grateful to the publishers for giving me the chance to read an ARC of this book. Thank you Trevor Noah for sharing your story with the world!

 About Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah is the one of the most successful comedian in Africa. He is the host of the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning program The Daily Show on Comedy Central. Noah joined The Daily Show in 2014 as a contributor.Born in South Africa to a black South African mother and a white European father, Noah has hosted numerous television shows including South Africa’s music, television and film awards, the South African Comedy Festival and two seasons of his own late night talk show, Tonight with Trevor Noah. He made his U.S. television debut in 2012 on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and has also appeared on Late Show with David Letterman, becoming the first South African stand-up comedian to appear on either late night show.

He continues to tour all over the world and has performed in front of sold out crowds at the Hammersmith Apollo in London and the Sydney Opera House in Australia as well as many US cities.

A brief extract on racism and apartheid from  the book:

Apartheid, for all its power, had fatal flaws baked in, starting with the fact that it never made any sense. Racism is not logical. Consider this: Chinese people were classified as black in South Africa. I don’t mean they were running around acting black. They were still Chinese. But, unlike Indians, there weren’t enough Chinese people to warrant devising a whole separate classification. Apartheid, despite its intricacies and precision, didn’t know what to do with them, so the government said, “Eh, we’ll just call ’em black. It’s simpler that way.”
Interestingly, at the same time, Japanese people were labeled as white. The reason for this was that the South African government wanted to establish good relations with the Japanese in order to import their fancy cars and electronics. So Japanese people were given honorary white status while Chinese people stayed black. I always like to imagine being a South African policeman who likely couldn’t tell the difference between Chinese and Japanese but whose job was to make sure that people of the wrong color weren’t doing the wrong thing. If he saw an Asian person sitting on a whites-only bench, what would he say?
“Hey, get off that bench, you Chinaman!”
“Excuse me. I’m Japanese.”
“Oh, I apologize, sir. I didn’t mean to be racist. Have a lovely afternoon.”

Book Review: Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barrack Obama

I have had this book on my reading list for a while now until last week when I finally got a hard-copy of the book from our library. I have been reading memoirs this month and so I decided to finally read the story of this great man, Barrack Obama.

Dreams from my father is a beautifully written story about Obama’s journey towards discovering his heritage. Obama’s mother was an American but his father was Kenyan. However, at only two years old, his father walked out on them only to comeback briefly when he was ten years old before disappearing again. Years later, Obama received a call letting him know that his father had died in a road accident.
The death of his father triggered Obama’s quest to find out about the man who left him and also establish the truth about his inheritance. Obama first goes to Kansas, Hawaii and finally to Kenya in search of the missing pieces of his life.

The memoir is written simply and in remarkable prose. Reading the book made me feel like I was seated in a room listening to Obama narrate the story. Naturally, I loved the part about his visit to Kenya. It’s the first time that I read something about Kenya written authentically by a foreigner. He told stories about the good and bad sides of Kenya and it was all based on facts that any Kenyan can attest to. He spoke about the fact that people kept asking him for money and gifts from America which again is true about Kenyans. He gave accurate descriptions about the foods and the people. As I said, the good and the ugly were all true. I didn’t get the same feeling that I had when I read Aryan Hirsi’s description of Kenya in her book, Infidel or Nurrudin Farah’s description of Nairobi in Hiding in Plain Sight. Obama was honest; he did not exaggerate or try nor make Kenya seem like something that it isn’t. I really enjoyed that; it made me smile and think about the last time he in was in Kenya and his feeble attempts to speak Swahili.


Dreams 1
Reading about Obama’s story reminded me of the first time that he ran for president. We(most Kenyans) cvvv spent hours watching the presidential race and praying that he would win. The day he won was such a big celebration that Kenya had a national holiday. There is pride in seeing one of your own succeed (his father is Kenyan so yes, we claim the man). I had the same feeling when he landed in Kenya in July, 2015. As I watched his half run down the stairs of Air Force One, the excitement was palatable. It was also very sad when to see him wave goodbye before disappearing behind the doors of his plane. Kenyans will always think of Obama as one of the sons of the land. He will always remain, our cousin in America who made us proud.


Dreams from my father is a book that I greatly enjoyed and would gladly recommend it to anyone looking for an inspiring memoir.

Review: The Long, Long Afternoon by Inga Vesper

It’s the summer of 1959, and the well-trimmed lawns of Sunnylakes wilt under the California sun.

At some point during the long, long afternoon Joyce Haney, a seemingly happy housewife and mother, vanishes from her home, leaving behind only two terrified young children and a bloodstain on the kitchen floor.

With the stifling heat of Tangerine and the gripping pace of Little Deaths, The Long, Long Afternoon is at once a page-turning mystery and an intoxicating vision of the ways in which women everywhere are diminished, silenced and, ultimately, underestimated. 


I absolutely loved this atmospheric literary crime fiction set in 1959.

Joyce is a housewife who suddenly goes missing one afternoon. Her Maid came to work and found her babies alone with no sign of Joyce. Alarm bells went off when she also found a blood stained kitchen. Where is Joyce? Did someone take her? Did she just up and leave? Whose blood is on the floor and how did it end up there? I had so much fun seeking answers for these questions.

This is my first read of a literary crime fiction set in the 1950s. I like how the author brought the setting and time period alive through her vivid description. I could visualize the time then and especially the place of women in society. This was also a time that was marked with racial inequalities and this was evidenced in the portrayal of different characters and themes. The author managed to portray all these dynamics without losing focus of the mystery at the heart of the narrative.

The character development is this story was done quite well. I liked Ruby. She was a black Help working for the white families. We saw her being forced to be subservient despite maltreatment and disrespect. There was a lot of heartbreak in her story as we get to witness the racism that she experienced. However, there is also strength, love and courage. I adored this brilliant character. I also really like the Lead Detective, Micky, who tried to rise above the racism and treat everyone equally. There are quite a number of other characters who stood out for me.

The mystery was captivating. I couldn’t guess what happened to Joyce as there were so many red herrings. At some point, I thought she had been taken. Other times, I thought she had just walked out on her marraige. I know I would have. Being a Housewife in the 1950s and dealing with the male dominance was enough to drive any woman crazy.  I was surprised by the reveal about what really happened to Joyce.

This is such a well-written, evocative, fast-paced narrative. I loved the setting, characters and vivid description of the time period. I truly enjoyed reading The Long, Long Afternoon by Inga Vesper.

Review: The Girl in the Missing Poster by Barbara Copperthwaite

24 June, 1994 – Nineteen-year-old Leila Hawkins runs from her father’s birthday party into the stormy night wearing her sister Stella’s long red coat. Some say she was crying, others swear they saw her get into a passing car. Nobody ever saw her again.

Present – This time every year, on the anniversary of that fateful night, Stella decorates the small seaside town she grew up in with pictures of her beautiful missing sister. But after twenty-five years, is it even worth hoping someone will come forward? Perhaps the upcoming documentary will spark people’s memories by reuniting all the guests who were there the night Leila went missing.

As old friends gather and long-buried secrets begin to surface, the last thing Stella ever expects is a direct response from someone claiming they took Leila. They want private details of Stella’s life in return for answers. But as the true events of the night of the party play out once again, who is lying? And who is next?


The Girl in the Missing Poster is the newest thriller by Barabara Copperthwaite. This is the harrowing story of Stella who lost her twin sister twenty five years ago. Over 2 decades gone but no sightings of Leila. The trail went cold and it seems like she just disappeared into the night. The world might have moved on but not her sister. Stella is still searching for Leila. She puts up missing posters every year and constantly pushes the detectives for answers. A chance to reopen the case and get the public’s interest again comes up when Stella is offered a chance to be part of a True Crime drama series.

I love how the story is narrated alternating between the documentary and present events. The transcripts from the documentary reminded me of True Crime shows on Netflix and IDx. I like how they revealed aspects of the case, gave us flashbacks of the night that Leila disappeared and also helped in the character development. Stella as an MC is interesting and easy to root for. The author did such an amazing job at showing her struggles with past events and present issues.

This is quite a suspenseful read. It was hard to guess what happened to Leila. I literally kept changing my guesses from one suspect to another. My mind ran wild with possible scenarios of what happened to Leila. With an immersive plot, memorable characters and lots of intrigue, I think this is a title that fans of this genre will undoubtedly enjoy. Barbara Copperthwaite continues to impress me with each new title. What a stunning thriller!

Books and Movies Set in Kenya

I decided to do this post following a conversation that I had with my book blogging friend, Annie (The Misstery). Annie is from Spain and I am from Kenya. We met in blogosphere and became friends on and offline though we have never met in person. One thing that we talk about a lot, well apart from TV shows and books, is our cultures. I enjoy getting to know more about Barcelona and life over there. In turn, I tell her about Kenya. Over time, she messages me each time she sees a book or a movie set in Kenya. Last weekend, she watched The Constant Gardner and told me about it. That is what inspired me to write this post. I thought it would be a fun way to help me discover movies and books set in my country and also help others get to know them.

Last week, I wrote a few facts about Kenya and Kenyan literature. If you missed my post, you can find it here. In this post, I will share books and movies set in Kenya. Unlike the previous posts, there are  by non-Kenyans.

Books that have already been made into movies

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Out of Africa by Karen Blixen

I think this is one of the most well known movies set in Kenya. Karen was a Danish woman who moved to Kenya to start a new life. The movie and book detail her experiences in Kenya. Today, there are a number of places named after her and Karen is also the name of one of the most affluent suburbs in Nairobi. It’s still possible to visit her house in Karen and Denys Finch Hatton’s grave on the Ngong Hills.



I dreamed of Africa


I Dreamed of Africa by Kuki Galmann


Italian Kuki Galmann falls in love with Kenya. However, her life is filled with tragic events after her move to Kenya. I haven’t read this book but I have watched the movie and I just recall how sad it was. Kuki had such a terrible time in Kenya despite having fallen in love with the country.





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The Constant Gardener by John Le Carre

This is a thriller about a widower trying to solve his wife’s murder. The story is set against the backdrop of espionage between the British Embassy and the Kenyan authorities. The Constant Gardener won several awards, including an Oscar for best actress.



The White Maasai by Corinne Hoffman

This is based on a true story. It tells the story of Corrine Hoffman(Swiss) who came to Kenya as a tourist but fell in love with a Samburu Moran and decided to stay in the country. She moved to a remote village in Samburu with the moran. I remember watching this movie a few years back. I think Corrinne was in love but above all, she was very brave. I don’t know if I couldn’t do half of the things that she did. The movie is based on a book so you can get both.


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Man-eaters of Tsavo by John Henry Patterson

This is one of the most frightening things that I have ever seen. What is even most scary is the fact that it is based on true events. About 130 people died in the early 1900’s during the construction of the Nairobi- Mombasa railway. They were all eaten by lions. This is both a movie and a book. Not one for the faint-hearted.

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Born Wild – Tony Fitzjohn (2010) – Biography by George Adamson’s assistant, set in 1980s during their research into lion behavior in a national park ravaged by poaching at that time.




Dreams from my fatherDreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barrack Obama

Barack’s journey comes full circle in Kenya, where he finally meets the African side of his family and confronts the bitter truth of his father’s life. Traveling through a country racked by brutal poverty and tribal conflict, but whose people are sustained by a spirit of endurance and hope, Barack discovers that he is inescapably bound to brothers and sisters living an ocean away—and that by embracing their common struggles he can finally reconcile his divided inheritance.

You can read my review here.


 Hiding in plain sightHiding in Plain Sight by Nurrudin Farah

When Bella learns of the murder of her beloved half brother by political extremists in Mogadiscio, she’s in Rome. The two had different fathers but shared a Somali mother, from whom Bella’s inherited her freewheeling ways. An internationally known fashion photographer, dazzling but aloof, she comes and goes as she pleases, juggling three lovers. But with her teenage niece and nephew effectively orphaned – their mother abandoned them years ago—she feels an unfamiliar surge of protective feeling. Putting her life on hold, she journeys to Nairobi, where the two are in boarding school, uncertain whether she can—or must—come to their rescue. When their mother resurfaces, reasserting her maternal rights and bringing with her a gale of chaos and confusion that mirror the deepening political instability in the region, Bella has to decide how far she will go to obey the call of sisterly responsibility.

You can read my review here.


A City of Thorns

A City of Thorns by Ben Lawrence

Situated hundreds of miles from any other settlement, deep within the inhospitable desert of northern Kenya where only thorn bushes grow, Dadaab is a city like no other. Its buildings are made from mud, sticks or plastic, its entire economy is grey, and its citizens survive on rations and luck. Over the course of four years, Ben Rawlence became a first-hand witness to a strange and desperate limbo-land, getting to know many of those who have come there seeking sanctuary. Among them are Guled, a former child soldier who lives for football; Nisho, who scrapes an existence by pushing a wheelbarrow and dreaming of riches; Tawane, the indomitable youth leader; and schoolgirl Kheyro, whose future hangs upon her education.
I haven’t yet read the following though they do sound interesting:

An African Love StoryLove, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story by Daphne Shedrick

But this is also a magical and heartbreaking human love story between Daphne and David Sheldrick, the famous Tsavo Park warden. It was their deep and passionate love, David’s extraordinary insight into all aspects of nature, and the tragedy of his early death that inspired Daphne’s vast array of achievements, most notably the founding of the world-renowned David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and the Orphans’ Nursery in Nairobi National Park, where Daphne continues to live and work to this day.



Flames of ThikaThe Flame Trees of Thika: Memories of an African Childhood – Elspeth Huxley

In an open cart Elspeth Huxley set off with her parents to travel to Thika in Kenya. As pioneering settlers, they built a house of grass, ate off a damask cloth spread over packing cases, and discovered—the hard way—the world of the African. With an extraordinary gift for detail and a keen sense of humor, Huxley recalls her childhood on the small farm at a time when Europeans waged their fortunes on a land that was as harsh as it was beautiful. For a young girl, it was a time of adventure and freedom, and Huxley paints an unforgettable portrait of growing up among the Masai and Kikuyu people, discovering both the beauty and the terrors of the jungle, and enduring the rugged realities of the pioneer life.


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My Maasai Life: From Suburbia to Savannah by Robin Wiszowaty

Growing up in suburban Illinois, Robin Wiszowaty never pictured herself living with an impoverished Maasai family in rural Kenya. Yet in her early twenties Wiszowaty embarked on an incredible journey that would shake her from complacency, take her to unimaginable locales, and change her life forever. My Maasai Life follows Wiszowaty’s remarkable voyage as she explores some of the most remote areas of East Africa and has her eyes opened to the diverse issues facing the fascinating Maasai people.



Nowehere in Africa – A German Jewish refugee family moves to and adjusts to a farm life in 1930s Kenya.

The First Grader– The story of an 84 year-old Kenyan villager and ex Mau Mau veteran who fights for his right to go to school for the first time to get the education he could never afford.

Nairobi Half Life– A young, aspiring actor from upcountry Kenya dreams of becoming a success in the big city. In pursuit of this and to the chagrin of his brother and parents, he makes his way to Nairobi:the city of opportunity.

Sense 8– A group of people around the world are suddenly linked mentally, and must find a way to survive being hunted by those who see them as a threat to the world’s order.

The Kitchen Toto– I watched this movie when I was a child. It is set in the colonial era in Kenya. I have been trying to get the movie again but it seems like it was only produced in VCR. DVDs are very hard to find. It is one of the most memorable movies that I have ever watched though.


Leopard at The Door by Jennifer McVeigh – This is one of my most anticipated reads this year. I received the ARC from NetGalley and will be reading it in July.

After six years in England, Rachel has returned to Kenya and the farm where she spent her childhood, but the beloved home she’d longed for is much changed. Her father’s new companion—a strange, intolerant woman—has taken over the household. The political climate in the country grows more unsettled by the day and is approaching the boiling point. And looming over them all is the threat of the Mau Mau, a secret society intent on uniting the native Kenyans and overthrowing the whites.

As Rachel struggles to find her place in her home and her country, she initiates a covert relationship, one that will demand from her a gross act of betrayal. One man knows her secret, and he has made it clear how she can buy his silence. But she knows something of her own, something she has never told anyone. And her knowledge brings her power.

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So, that is it. If you know any other movies or books set in Kenya then please let me know.