The first few pages of Wizard of the Crow made me impatient because the author, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, went on and on describing the rule of the dictator over Aburiria, a fictional country in Africa.
I wanted to stop…
However, I did not want to give up so easily because I thought that the author must certainly have had a story to tell since he had used up 766 pages. So, I decided to try at least the first 50 pages before abandoning it.
Kamiti, a young man educated in India, appeared on page 38. Nyawira, a leader of the underground movement against the ruler and his barbaric administration, followed.
From then on, the story picked up. One by one, other colorful, outrageous characters and hilarious events happened. I found that I had read much more than my original target of 50 pages!
Ngũgĩ was making me see what must be really a sad and dangerous experience for those who live through it, without sniveling calls for sympathy.
Wizard of the Crow is a book full of pride in the African spirit, the old ways and the connection with nature. It is also a delightful, yet complicated political satire told in the African story-telling style. It is a collective history of Kenya and other African nations subjected for too long to the rule of corrupt leaders and their sycophantic followers, chronicled with a liberal dash of humour.
Yes, it could be accused of being too long and of having an end not as triumphant/glorious as you might expect but the experience of reading it was what mattered most.