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Book Review: Dance of the Jakaranda

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When you see the ‘k’ in Jakaranda, you really want to correct it. Who writes ‘Jacaranda’ that way? Well, Peter Kimani does, and it is the name he chose for his fictional nightclub. (Ha! Had to spoil it for you this early! Perhaps I should not have mentioned that. Sorry Peter, and Bola, I just couldn’t resist!).

The book is not about dancing.

Yes, there’s plenty of that vividly described, you can feel the party mood, smell the sweat of the revellers, the aroma of the nyamachoma and even the stench of the urinal, and trigger whatever sense is triggered when you see, smell, and drink alcohol.

The reason I loved the book, is the meticulous research that went into it. All great works of historical fiction need thorough research. In Kenya, with the political identities defined or determined by ethnic identities, and the question of identity being pretty much the determinant of everything in an individual’s life, more so in political participation and public service, such research was an inva…

Book Review: My Nigeria-Five Decades of Independence (by Peter Cunliffe-Jones)

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Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan First published: 2010
I have the rare privilege of knowing a few authors personally, and realizing that not everybody has a daily access to these patient hardworking minds that sit down for hours, thinking about words, and writing them down to tell beautiful unforgettable stories. One of those authors is Peter Cunliffe-Jones. We have sat down with him for lunch a few times. The first time we met, it was over drinks in some Nairobi hotel. We spoke about fact-checking. But that is another story, for another time.
I knew he wrote a book and when he speaks, in passing, about the experience, you get the impression that it was one of those works where he spent hours doing research, combing through his notes, talking to people, asking uncomfortable questions, making conclusions and then doing the brave thing: stringing a readable story and putting it out there.
His book My Nigeria: Five Decades of Independence is one of those books that I read and could not put down…