author of the highly regarded 'Breath of Africa.'
As a young girl I used to curl up with a book on the window seat of our sitting room, sometimes gazing out at the garden. For we had a farm in Africa … not, like Karen Blixen, at the foot of the Ngong Hills, but overlooking the Great Rift Valley, where Lake Nakuru and its flamingos lay half hidden behind a hillfold.
|Flamingos and cormorants on Lake Nakuru|
|Bryce Canyon, the US on 9/11/11|
Two reviews of 'Breath of Africa'
This is also a very moral tale by someone who obviously loves the country and her descriptive powers made me feel that I was there. I havenever been to Africa but now feel I know it better.
Spanning almost thirty years, this novel follows the trials and tribulations of Caroline, a girl from a privileged background in Kenya. Her childhood with best friend Teresa is scarred by the State of Emergency that existed due to the Mau Mau uprising. Two other significant characters are Charles Ondiek, a farm labourer who aspires to study in Oxford and Mwangi, a wielder of effective black magic curses. Interwoven in the story is Kenya's transition to independence under Jomo Kenyatta.
`The great canopy of sky overwhelmed her; she breathed in deeply, savouring the immensity of the scene. The breath of Africa filled her being. This was her country, her home.' This quotation comes from p92 - but the breath of Africa permeates the entire book and certainly reminds me of Doris Lessing's 'The Grass is Singing' in the depth of feeling by Jane Bwye for the dark continent.
Despite tragedy and disappointments, Caroline survives, an example of fortitude in an uncertain world.
Breath of Africa is a novel of recent history that sheds light on the place and the period. There's a useful glossary at the back.
About Jane Bwye.
Jane Bwye, an intermittent freelance journalist who lived for fifty-five years in Africa, has dedicated her book Breath of Africa, to the people of Kenya. Described as “a hymn of joy to Kenya,” it can be bought from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk, or the publishers