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The Mzungu Boy

by Meja Mwangi

Published by Groundwood, 2005
150 pages
ISBN: 0-88899-653-5

Ages 10 - 14

Against the backdrop of the struggle for British-ruled Kenyaís struggle for independence in the 1950s is a story of an unlikely friendship between two boys, one black and one white. Kariukiís strong bond to nature and his love for the land and landscape of his homeland help him endure a life that is often dismal. His family works for Bwana Ruin, a harsh white landowner. The pressures of their existence make his parentsí lives difficult in ways Kariuki doesnít fully comprehend; what he does know is their anger when it is directed at him. When Bwana Ruinís grandson, Nigel, arrives from Britain, Kariuki and the white boy hit it off. Among the others in Kariukiís village, Nigel is known as mzungu boy, or westerner. Nigelís sense of entitlement is not as entrenched as his grandfatherís, but his privilege makes him almost wholly oblivious to the fact that their friendship is dangerous for them both. When Nigel is kidnapped by the Mau Mau rebels, Kariuki helps free him, but the Kenyan boy pays an enormous price. Kenyan writer Meja Mwangiís story ends on a hopeful note as it underscores that growth and change are possible, both for individuals and for a nation. CCBC Category: Fiction for Children.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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