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I Laugh So I Won't Cry: Kenya's Women Tell the Stories of Their Lives [Paperback]

Helena Halperin
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
RRP: 21.99
Price: 19.24 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 July 2005
In I Laugh So I Won't Cry Kenya's women tell their stories of love, struggle, happiness and tragedy. It features a huge range of women - subsistence farmers, herders, sex workers, business women and beggars. They talk candidly and vividly about the subjects closest to their hearts such as marriage, childrearing, work and unemployment, self-help groups, genital cutting, ethnic tensions and the new government that has promised huge reforms. A unique insight into the everyday lives of women in sub-Saharan Africa.

Product details

  • Paperback: 390 pages
  • Publisher: Africa Research & Publications; Ill edition (1 July 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592213049
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592213047
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 21.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,311,057 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars seeing how the other half live 7 Aug 2011
By dusky
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Before visiting kenya for the second time, I bought this book as an in sight to how these ladies live.I now know what strong characters they are struggling through life without many of their basic need. With a smile on their face and only good thought running through their minds.
It was a real eye opener although i would have love to read it again, its now working its way around the shanzu area of the country as everyone wanted to read it as they aaprove of the way in which the author tells the stories which they can relate to
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reality in the land of "The Constant Gardener." 11 Oct 2005
By Marc Haefele - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
From Robert Ruark's "Something of Value" of 50 years ago to John le Carre's "Constant Gardner," popular literature about Kenya has been visualized through the point of view of white people makking their way there.

Halperin's non-fiction book is a first. It's a story of the land, compiled from the viewpoint of very many actual Kenyans, mostly female: It is about what's really been happening there over the past half century. How the society has changed, sometimes for better, often for worse, in the past generation, as more and more people have to live on fewer acres of farmable land or depart for the impoverished cities.

It's about living with AIDS, the effects of money on a barter society, how education affects relationships and what it means to be a born again Christian (or Muslim) in a society where animistic beliefs often prevail. In short, its about what it is like being a Kenyan. It is a book of anthropological thoroughness that reads like the deep-felt personal narrative that it is.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful depiction of reality 13 Feb 2007
By Charles Herrick - Published on Amazon.com
This is an interesting and informative book. It has a bit of an academic format but because the author includes so many firsthand accounts of real women in all stations, ages and social strata, it has a great story telling aspect as well.

Since I spent most of my time in the interior of Kenya in the most primitive settings, I can only speak authoritatively on the plight of rural women. I can tell you that Helena's recounting of lives and situations is really indicative of what's going on there. It brought back a lot of memories.

The social landscape is changing rapidly over there but the situation women find themselves in is moving a lot more slowly. I am so thankful for this snapshot provided by this book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Women Folk of Kenya 5 Jan 2008
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
This is a very professionally accomplished book of collectd interviews of the ordinary Kenyan women who is trying to live from day to day in difficult conditions. It is very good reading especially in the light of the post election crisis happening now in early 2008.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good! 4 Sep 2008
By L. Miller - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is very interesting but slightly repetitive. The author records her extensive interviews that she conducted with Kenyan women. She used a tape recorder and so much of the book is written verbatim from the discussions that she had with these women. Some of the topics that she covers are husband-wife relationships, aids, education, marriage, raising children and the work that a typical day entails.

An interesting aspect of life for these women is the corporal punishment that abounds in their daily life. According to this book, women accept being beaten by their husbands or perhaps their parents as the natural order of events. Many viewed it as punishment for behaving badly, for example, burning dinner. There were a few women who escaped from abusive marriages and didn't re-marry, but several of the women were satisfied with husbands who beat them but didn't threaten their lives. Interestingly enough, most of the women, even knowing what married life was likely to be like, wanted to marry and have children. This was a concept that was hard for my American mind to grasp.

Another theme of these women's lives is the fact that they often bear the sole responsibility of raising their children and providing for them financially. The fathers of the children often don't even provide their children with money for food or their elementary education.

This book provides the reader with a very detailed and insightful look into the daily lives of some of the women of Kenya. Very good for those with an anthropological bent, but perhaps not so great for those who are just looking for a good novel. I enjoyed it very much myself and recommend it to anyone who is thinking of traveling to Africa or who is interested in studying the culture of Kenya.
5.0 out of 5 stars great stories about REAL people 21 July 2010
A Kid's Review - Published on Amazon.com
This book was well organized, and definately a plus for anyone interested in E. Africa life.

I was pleased with the manner the author interviewed women in groups and by themselves when able. She used an interturpertur to explain how the women felt about multiple issues; including work, families, children, sex, relationships with spouces, multiple marriages, etc.

The only complaint I would have is that in some instances men were present, making me wonder just how much freedom the women had to give honest answers.

The women discussed how they are required to marry another women who has sons if their husband dies before they have a son; otherwise their property will be divided between her husband's brothers and nephews. The work is hard: domestic violence is common and "ordinary," with men being taunted by other men if they treat their wives in a loveing manner. Education does help many girls overcome the drugury of field work, but is only available to the wealthy or from outside missionary communities.
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