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Thoughts on: The flame trees of Thika by Elspeth Huxley

24 Aug

This is a story about a European family and how they settled in a farm in Thika, Kenya in the 1910s. It ends with the start of the First World War. It revolves around their day to day activities; starting a coffee farm from nothing, getting labour from the native population, interactions with their European neighbours etc. They get to learn the customs of the Kikuyu and the Maasai and to understand as well their legendary enmity.

I found interesting the sheer will power to settle in a place unknown, the readiness to take on adventure for livelihood and not for sport “by the horns” so to speak all in order to further the interests of their country or empire. In a similar way, the readiness with which, once war is declared, they leave everything gained to have the honour to fight for their country.

The book is very well written; the descriptions are superb, even poetical. At some point, it seems like an encyclopedia of flora and fauna. Towards the end of the book, I noted some of the birds and plants/trees mentioned. Birds: kingfisher, stonechats, babblers, mouse birds, swallow, whydah, harrier, blacksmith, finch and sunbird. Plants/trees: leleshwa, cedar tree, juniper, acacia, red oat grass, orchid, starlings, geraniums, weaver tree and delphinium. How long would have been the list if I had started from the very beginning!


Vicious actions…

18 Apr

Vicious actions are not hurtful because they are forbidden, but forbidden because they are hurtful- Benjamin Franklin

The novel-after feeling

14 Apr
loss and gain

A philosophical novel written after Newman’s conversion to Roman Catholicism

Yesterday I finished reading Loss and Gain by Henry Newman, and as I write this, I have just finished Prince Caspian. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t just read books, but Lewis’ book is an afternoon read. In fact, it is a children’s book. After all the theological dose in Loss and Gain, I needed something light.

But I am more or less in the same frame of mind as after I finished Loss and Gain. Time seems to stand still. After reading the last page, I find myself thrown rudely into reality. (This happens to me after every book I read). My head kind of throbs. I need  time to take in the fact that now I am in the real world and that the book characters and all that happened is imaginary. It is almost the same kind of feeling as the end of a movie, seeing the credits with nice music, and then bang!, someone switches on the lights and you stare at the blue screen in shock and disbelief.

What to do? Go on with life? Get another book to immerse oneself in? Wouldn’t it  be nice if there was no TIME? I mean, we could enjoy a good book forever? It sounds like a joke, I know. But I don’t know what to do about my throbbing head.

Anyone got ideas?

Kindling the reading mania

3 Apr

Once upon a time, so long that I can’t possibly remember, there lived a little African girl who loved books. Somewhat timid, she loved the hours spent in the company of her books. Whenever she could spare a little time from her chores, she wrote her thoughts down in a blog. Now, this girl was like an English aristocrat for her sticking to the old time-tested customs. She staunchly believed, for example, that books could only be read in the paper format.

Until she discovered Kindle.

Before she could say Jack Robinson, she was hooked. Kindle became to her like an irresistible magnet that devoured all the reading time she had. Well, sometimes she also used other time that was not reading time to read, but that is another matter. She fancied that she loved reading, but kindle just re-kindled her favourite pastime.

Pride and Prejudice, The Three Musketeers, Little Women, Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, Wives and Daughters, A Christmas Carol, Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Small House at Allington and so on and so forth. All that in a few months! It is no wonder that she doesn’t have time to jot down her thoughts nowadays. She is too busy learning French and reading, of course on Kindle.

Kindle, c’est magnifique!



Review: The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

18 Nov


If I could summarize the story of the three musketeers in five words, they would be adventure, valour, power, love and revenge.

Set in the 17th century, it recounts the adventures of a young man, d’Artagnan after he leaves home to travel to Paris, to join the Musketeers of the Guard. He befriends Athos, Porthos and Aramis, who are musketeers.

The book is in a way, historical. At least the circumstances in which the story is told are historical. Cardinal Richelieu controls the politics of France. The king (Louis XIII) would like to get rid of him but can’t. The queen, Anne of Austria, loves another man, the duke of Buckingham and the cardinal is trying to expose her to the king.

But it is not just about love affairs, it is rather how those affairs have the power to influence the fate of nations. Buckingham himself states that is the queen of France were to desire it, he would betray his own country. It is the age of chivalry, when men risked death and worse to get a smile from lady-love.

In case romance is not your cup of tea, breathe easy, the book is much more than that. It is adventure packed where D’Artagnan along with his three friends must unite and defeat a beautiful double agent and her villainous employer from seizing the French throne and engulfing Europe in war.

The three musketeers is a perfect thriller!

A book for a gift

14 Nov

It has been a long time since I last updated this blog. My sister Phui has kindly called my attention to this fact. Talking of my sister, she has also recently given me a book for a gift, knowing my love for books. Thanks a lot dear sis!

The book is entitled “The devil that danced on the water” by Aminata Forna.


It tells the story of her search for the truth of her father’s fate, Mohamed Forna, who had been told that for Africa “politics and violence are inseparable”. Her father abandoned his medical career to enter into the volatile politics of Sierra Leone in the 1960’s. A brilliant and impeccable man, he became finance minister under Siaka Stevens, the then president.

As I am still reading the book, a complete review is impossible at this point!

But a promise is a promise, a review is coming once I have finished reading. At least I owe that much to my dear sis!

The sunshine award

14 Jun

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy… So goes a song I faintly remember from childhood. Savindi nominated me for this award, and I feel I could sing this to her!

Rules For The Sunshine Award 

  • Include the award’s logo in a post or on your blog.
  • Answer 10 questions about yourself.
  • Nominate other fabulous bloggers.
  • Link your nominees to this post and comment on their blogs, letting them know they have been nominated.
  • Share the love and link the person who nominated you.

What Is Your Favourite Childhood Memory? Waking up on Saturday morning to the smell of chips and sausages that my mum would prepare for our breakfast. A perfect recipe for a full day’s garden work: weeding, planting, manuring, name it. We grew potatoes, carrots, maize, beans, kale and everything that could sprout!

What is a real fear you have? FAILURE!!!

How would you describe yourself? Discreetly funny, with a few very good friends that last for a lifetime. Definitely not a party girl, rather the book-worm type (mainly novels) Haha!!

What Countries have you lived in? I have lived in Kenya most of my life, but also in Uganda for one year and Italy for three years.

What is your style? comfortable with a streak of ethnic. I think that cotton is the best thing that happened to humanity, after the wheel and sliced bread.

What is your favorite breakfast food? Anything goes, as long as there are no eggs!

What are some of your hobbies? reading, reading, and more reading!!

If you could tell people anything, what would be the most important thing to say? Follow your heart, but listen to your head too.

What is one of your passions? Passion as in something I dream of: winning the Caine Prize for African writing some day

What is the one truth you have learned? No situation, however wretched it seems, but has some sort of comfort attending to it.

Now to the nominations: (many of the people I would like to nominate for this award have it already, but let’s see…)

Bundle of books

Lea at sea


The Liebster Award!

31 May

I was pleasantly surprised when Lea awarded me the Leibster award. Once again, thanks Lea!

“Liebster” is German for “Dearest”. The award is a  “Share the love arrangement”, given to inspirational bloggers with less than 200 followers. Here is the to do list for any of the  “Liebster” blog award recipients.

1 – Thank your Liebster Blog award presenter on your blog.
2 –  Link back to the blogger who presented you the award.
3 –  Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4 –  Present the Liebster Blog Award to 5 bloggers with less than 200 followers.
5 – Let them know they have been chosen by leaving a comment on their blog.

So here are the inspirational bloggers:

What Jane Read Next

library aisles



Booky Pony

The versatile blogger award

27 May

At the beginning of this month, Jane from Australia awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award. Thanks a lot Jane! This is her blog.  So, after a really long time I get to write this for the Award.

The rules of The Versatile Blogger Award are:

-If you are nominated, you’ve been awarded The Versatile Blogger award.

– Thank the person who gave you this award.

– Include a link to their blog.

– Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.

-Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award

– Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

OK, here are the blogs that I have recently discovered :

Jessica really reads a lot. I love the blue on her blog

-Savindi, blogs at For the love of books. I love her recommendations!!

-For reviews and thoughts about classics, every book and cranny. 

-I loved the post “Do classics sell themselves” on frisbeebookjournal. I think that they do sell themselves!

-Alison, atthe cheap reader, who absolutely loves books!

Maggie, who also loves books and has amazing poetry.

Books on the tube has an amazing list of 100 great books! I would love to read them all!

-A recent addition to the book lovers is the shameless bibliophile. I love C. S. Lewis too!

-Kimberley, who lives in the Netherlands, has an amazing list from the BBC Book List Challenge. She blogs at ayearofprojects.

Cassandra reads more than 10 books a month! Incredible! See for yourself.

-Linda who is a writer, and has lots of success! She is at bookbabylinda’s blog

– Grace, an aspiring librarian, writes profound reviews: books without any pictures.

-Helen from England: she reads novels.  She is a 19th century classics lover.

Giving reading a chance, by Veena from India. She does marvellous reviews!

-Last but not least meet Rachel from London: Book Snob

Things about myself

-I really like the sky, I could spend the whole day just looking at it.

-I have recently developed a love for history.

-Naturally, Italy has stolen my heart. Amiable people, great skies, the most lovely sunsets that I have ever seen and not to mention pizza and  gelato.

-I think that Italian and Swahili are the most beautiful languages I have come across.

-Aeroplanes are  amazing. I wish I lived near an airport, just to see them land and takeoff. But I don’t know what I would do about the noise.

-When I want to laugh, I read P.G. Wodehouse, James Herriot or Anthony Trollope.

-I don’t read as much as I would like to, although I really try my best!

An African thunderstorm

20 Mar

An African Thunderstorm

David Rubadiri (Malawian poet)

(A group of friends requested me to present some African poem and this was my pick, and my thoughts regarding the same)

From the west
Clouds come hurrying with the wind
Here and there
Like a plague of locusts
Tossing up things on its tail
Like a madman chasing nothing.

Pregnant clouds
Ride stately on its back
Gathering to perch on hills
Like dark sinister wings;
The Wind whistles by
And trees bend to let it pass.

In the village
Screams of delighted children
Toss and turn
In the din of whirling wind,
Babies clinging on their backs–
Dart about
In and out
The Wind whistles by
Whilst trees bend to let it pass.
Clothes wave like tattered flags
Flying off
To expose dangling breasts
As jaggered blinding flashes
Rumble, tremble, and crack
Amidst the smell of fired smoke
And the pelting march of the storm.

About the poet: David Rubadiri was born in 1930. He studied literature inMakerereUniversityand later on in the University of Bristol where he graduated with an M.A. in English literature.  In 1964, he becameMalawi’s first ambassador to the United Statesand the United Nations.

The poem describes a typical African thunderstorm, with all its intensity. In African society, rain is a blessing; everything loves the approach of rain, not just children. It is good for the crops and the animals, as it increases the harvest. However, when we read this poem, we don’t get the feeling that the author is happy; he concentrates on telling us about the damage that the rain and wind do. For example a plague of locusts is never a good thing, at least for the crops. It calls attention because the poet uses this simile while referring to the wind that brings rain, a good thing.

It is possible to interpret the poem as the effect of colonial domination on the native land. The time that the poet has lived- his country got independent in the early 1960’s- can be convincing.  At least he was familiar with that part of the history of his country. It also alludes to domination by such words as “trees bend to let the wind pass”, “clouds ride stately on the back of the wind”. The tattered flags have a nationalistic connotation.

The interpretation provided could be making a mountain out of a mole- hill but also, there can be more than meets the eye. That is why it is important to know as much as possible about the historical context in which the poet lived. Rubadiri fell out with his president a year after his appointment as ambassador. It would be interesting to find out when he actually wrote the poem and what he did afterwards, a challenge I launch out to you!