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Book Reviews

Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty Eight Nights

Volume 13, Issue 1 | Published 21/07/2016  

Author: Salman Rushdie
Publ: Penguin Randon House LLC, New York
Reviewer: Alexander Khamala Opicho
Salman Rushdie’s latest novel again causes protest in the Muslim world

In his characteristic style of literary telekinesis, Salman Rushdie again causes protest in the Muslim world on release of his latest novel Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Days. The book which is written in an approach of assumed dialogic relationship between religion and reason, here religion meaning Islam, Rushdie shrewdly combines fairy tales and facts to mirror deficiency of realism in religion as placed against secular intellectual pragmatism. The book which has as a sub-title A thousand and one nights, a sum total of the nights to be obtained from the period expressed in the main title, uses allegory to feature the rationalist philosopher by the name Ibn Rushd who lived in the 12th century in the then Arab Spain and his vintage confrontation with the Islamic idealist thinker Ghazali of Iran. The primary lesson in the book is that there is struggle between religious faith and secular reason as expressed through a series of diverse characters which include the real in form of people and the super-real in form of gods and spirits. The German paper, Deutsch Welle, has noted about this book that it is either Rushdie’s intellectual response to the Charlie Hebdo attack or Rushdie’s version of Arabian Nights.

Zarina Patel launched The In-between World of Kenya’s Media: South Asian Journalism 1900-1992 on 19 April, 2016. The book has the brief work histories of over 65 print, photo and radio journalists, South Asian, who have traversed Kenya’s media scape in this period.  Articles by some of Kenya’s well-known journalists, printers and writers give a context to Kenya’s world of journalism – this book is by the journalists and for the journalists; a group of people who bring us stories of the world and beyond but rarely their own. It is also for all who care about the media and recognize its central role in the struggle for a better world. Details for ordering the book can be found at http://www.awaazmagazine.com/books/the-in-betweenworld-of-kenyas-media

Indian Doctors in Kenya, 1895-1940 – The Forgotten History

Volume 13, Issue 1 | Published 21/07/2016  

Authors: Anna Greenwood & Harshad Topiwala
Publ: Palgrave Macmillan
Reviewer: AwaaZ

The authors have done a great service in bringing to our notice this facet in Kenya’s colonial history. Since independence, much has been written about the South Asian journalists, lawyers, politicians and of course industrialists, but the realm of medicine has remained unexplored. Is it because medics play a role by caring for, not changing or challenging, society? Even the brave and dedicated personnel of the Medicins Sans Frontier rarely if ever make political statements.

And Home Was Kariakoo

Volume 13, Issue 1 | Published 21/07/2016  

Adios Kariak00:
An Assessment of And Home Was Kariakoo*
(The Extended Version)
Title: And Home Was Kariakoo: A Memoir of East Africa
Author: Moez G Vassanji
Publ: Doubleday Canada (www.randomhouse.ca)2014
Reviewer: Karim F Hirji, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

(*This is the extended version of a review of the same title in the print copy of Awaaz Magazine, Issue No 1, 2016)

When, upon reading the latest book by a veteran, internationally acclaimed author, you conclude that it is tainted with racial bias, employs flawed conceptualizations and reeks of factual errors, and when you see that it nonetheless is being extolled widely, you are faced with two scenarios. Either your reasoning faculties have fallen prey to senility, or that the literary world is exhibiting signs of ideological dementia and commercial bias. I have taken the latter perhaps foolhardy step: I am going to air my views in public, and let you be the judge.

Authors: Annie E Coombes, Lotte Hughes and Karega-Munene

Publ: 2014 by I B Tauris and Co., New York

Reviewer: Prof. Ephraim W Wahome, Associate Professor, Dept of History & Archaeology, University of Nairobi.

The Book is divided into five chapters dealing with different aspects of conservation, interpretation and management of heritage in Kenya. The chapters are:

  1. Origins and development of institutionalized heritage management in Kenya,
  2. Object lessons: Learning from the Lari Massacre(s),
  3. Sacred spaces, political places: the struggle for a sacred forest
  4. Monuments and memories: Public commemorative strategies in cotemporary Kenya and
  5. The production and transmission of national history: Some problems and challenges.

Salim Ahmed Salim: Son of the Soil

Volume 13, Issue 1 | Published 21/07/2016  

Editor: Jakkie Cilliers

Publ: ACCORD

Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue

Institute of Security Studies

Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation

2015

Reviewer: Prof. Issa Shivji

Reading through these essays celebrating the life of Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim, I was intrigued by one fact. There is an uncanny convergence between Salim’s five decades of public life and the two important periods of Tanzania’s – even Africa’s – political history. Since his appointment as an ambassador in 1964, Salim spends the first five years picking his way down the diplomatic lane. Next ten years, he is his country’s top representative at the UN where he skillfully leads the diplomatic struggle for African liberation. These 15 years are also part of the post-independence nationalist period in Africa or the Bandung era of the Third World. This was undoubtedly a glorious period of recent African history, in spite of, or a wisecrack might say, because of, the Cold War. (Superpower rivalry allowed Africa to pursue its nationalist agenda with some consistency and vigour which would not have been easy in a unipolar world.) This is the era characterised by what the Chinese communists summed up as: