Uhuru: A Novel of Africa Today

Uhuru: A Novel of Africa Today

Uhuru: A Novel of Africa Today

Uhuru: A Novel of Africa Today

Excerpt

The title of this book is Uhuru, the one word most frequently heard in East Africa these days. It means, roughly, "freedom," and is used and abused according to personal inclination. In some instances this can be tragic.

Critics must justly describe this book as rough and certainly somewhat sprawly. I plead guilty to the charge; for so is the Continent of Africa rough and sprawly in its momentary impact on the world and I have not attempted to neat up actuality. Twenty major characters, black and white, young and old, male and female, running about in a changing scene are apt to require space to move around in.

Uhuru is a Semitic word used commonly in both Arabic and Hebraic, and it sneaked into Swahili, which is the lingua franca of East and Central Africa, via the slave trade. Uhuru is synonymous to l'indépendance in the Congo, or free-dom in West Africa. It has become in recent months so much a part of daily use that it is employed by black and white alike, in much the same sense that liberté, fraternité, égalité became portion to semi-modern France.

One can rarely pick up a newspaper in East Africa today without seeing uhuru glaring a dozen times. One cannot stride a street or ride the roads of even back-country Kenya without being greeted by the old Churchillian "V" finger sign, or a Naziesque flattened palm, accompanied by a ringing shout of "Uhuru!" One cannot eavesdrop a con-

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