Kenya’s Caine Prize for African Writing winner, Yvonne Adhiambo Owour, weaves a delightfully intriguing tale in her first novel, Dust. This fast-paced, helplessly-intriguing tale revolves around the life of Engineer Moses Ebewesit Odidi Oganda. It’s set in Kenya with scenes oscillating between Kenya’s capital Nairobi and her northern dry lands.

Odidi and his sister Ajany are sent to school in the real Kenya (Nairobi), which is a stark contrast from where they grew up in Northern Kenya. They bear the brunt of the joke of famine, emaciated breast-baring women and skeletons of livestock. They would however catch up quick and make a name for themselves.

Yvonne has employed the adroit use of flashbacks, symbolism and metaphors to tell a tale of Kenya. She dexterously explores the pertinent themes of colonialism, neo-colonialism, and corruption, the 2007/2008 post-election violence, political assassinations, extra-judicial killings, marginalisation, culture, and rot in society.

This book is refreshingly peppered with rich African imagery that obliges the reader to see themselves in the literary mirror. To question themselves and ask why things are the way they are. What role do I play in maintaining the status quo?

Not to mention the rich African wisdom laden herein. As you prepare to dig in, how about I leave you with this one from Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor:

Everyone has at least four secrets;

  • One secret can only be repeated to God.
  • The second is buried in between life and death, to be retrieved at the time of a man’s most important life decision.
  • The third is the one you sell to buy your oldest longing.
  • The fourth is the name you baptise your death with.

What are these four secrets to you?

Happy reading!



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