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Matigari: A Novel (African Writers Library) Hardcover – 10 Jul 1998

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Hardcover, 10 Jul 1998
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 158 pages
  • Publisher: Africa Research & Publications; New edition edition (10 July 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865433607
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865433601
  • Product Dimensions: 22.5 x 14.8 x 1.8 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,129,325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon.com: 6 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Matigari is a fascinating story. Must read~! 20 April 2000
By DongJin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Matigari by Ngugi wa Thiong'o is a fascinating story. Since from the very beginning, Matigari captures readers with foreshadowing, uses of similes, and many techniques that European writers use. However, the structure is different from a novel written in the European tradition. The language is kept rather simple, as someone would speak when telling a story. There are many repetitive words and phrases in Matigari and readers should not underestimate the significant value of every one of them. In addition, the repetition is one of many things that Ngugi used to make readers read the book like a hidden charisma of the book. In my opinion, one of many quotes that give more insight to the story is the following: There is no night so long that it does not end with dawn." This metaphorical expression has a very significant meaning in the context of the story. It expresses the endless sufferings of people in that land. Most importantly, it emphasizes their hope for a better tomorrow. Thins have not changed after the settlers left. The Imperialism system sets a worldwide system in which the sorrow of the many is the joy of the few. The wealth of an entire nation is in the hands of five percent of the population, while the other ninety five percent are dying of starvation. "I have girded myself with the belt of peace." That is another important phrase. It illustrates the non-violent attitude of the hero. Matigari was a nationalist, a peaceful messenger who wished for harmony in his community. Another phrase that provides the most insight into the text is house and home. It is repeated countless times throughout the story, sometimes as many as eight times on a single page. It is like a mantra-home. The home is the center of our life. It is where families are centered. We go home to our loved ones every night. Muriuki's mother was killed in a fire set by her proprietor when she could not afford to pay for and refused to leave her home. Guthera turned to prostitution after she and her sibling were orphaned and it was the only means by which she could provide for them. John Boy is sent away to school by his family and instead of coming back to help them to improve their lives he becomes just like the wealthy settlers and his main goal is making money at the expense of the natives. Matigari's home appears to represent unity, love, and power. Home has connotations that go even further than that of immediate family and a place to live. Home is their country and home is the life they knew before colonization. Decolorizing Mind novel, that Ngugi used a biblical element to grab readers such as myself into completing the novel Matigari. I could not put down the book, Matigari's attitude and outward demeanor could all be summed up in one outline: his grace, his compassion, his love, his patience, his peacefulness, gentleness are all the qualities of Christ. I especially loved how he captured Matigari's voice, "Something in Matigari's voice made them listen to him attentively," when Christ spoke the people all listened o him diligently. When Matigari said " a prudent person keeps their mouth shut, in the Bible James 1:19, says everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger...." In addition, when Matigari was in the jail cell, he shared food with other people in the jail. It is parallel to Jesus when he shares his bread to twelve other people. In literally, the food Matigari had and shared could be the last supper. Matigari is not only the bitter experience of post independence African society, but it is a picture of timeless suffering and struggle for freedom and independence. In a dictatorship, questions of truth and justice are paramount because these two are the first to disappear in such an environment. Matigari's patriotism for his country and his people haunted his soul. His search for truth and justice eventually let him to the forest and mountains. The myths of Matigari have wonder people. Who is this man People even compared him with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Who ever that man is or whatever people think about him or his mission, I think the Matigari as an inspiration to the search for truth and justice.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Fantastic novel about corruption in postcolonial Africa 10 Jan. 2010
By Darryl R. Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In the preface to this novel, Ngugi informs us that Matigari was written in 1983, while he was living in exile in London. It was published in the Gikuyu language in 1986, and translated into English the following year. He also tells us that copies of this book were removed from bookshops by the Kenyan police that year, due to the controversy that its release caused there.

Matigari ma Njiruungi, which means 'the patriots who survived the bullets' in the Gikuyu language, is an old man in an unnamed postcolonial African country who, after years of struggle, has finally killed his lifelong tormentor and oppressor Settler Williams and his assistant John Boy. He leaves the forest which had been his home for many years, to return to his home village. He intends to gather up his family and people that he left behind during the struggle for independence, in order to move into the spacious home that he built, which was stolen from him by Settler Williams.

Upon his arrival to the village, he finds a shocking amount of poverty and corruption: orphaned children live in abandoned cars, and obtain scraps of food and clothing from a dump; workers toil in factories and the fields, and do not make enough money to feed their families; a group of women prostitute themselves to survive. The country is now run by His Excellency Ole Excellence and his assistant The Minister of Truth and Justice, and a fragile peace is maintained by fear, violence and the ever present Voice of Truth radio broadcast, which informs the public of the punishment meted out to those who oppose the one party government.

Matigari finds the home that he has built, with the help of a young boy, who has rescued him from a mob of stone throwing youth, and a prostitute who he has rescued from two policemen. However, it is now occupied by the son of John Boy; he has obtained a Western education and, along with the son of Settler Williams, runs a major factory and plantation in the village. They are more corrupt and oppressive taskmasters than their hated fathers. Matigari attempts to claim his house, but he is beaten and jailed. However, he is not defeated, and soon escapes from prison. He travels throughout the village, a mysterious Christ-like figure who becomes a legend amongst the villagers, and a feared opponent of John Boy, Jr. and the government. All efforts to discredit or capture Matigari prove fruitless, as the villagers become less fearful of the government and more willing to stand up for their rights. A final and inevitable confrontation with John Boy, Jr. at the plantation home occurs, as the stability of the government hangs in the balance.

This was a tingling and fast-paced novel, which I read in one sitting this morning, and is based in part on an African folk story. The ending was especially good, and unpredictable despite the confrontation that was obviously going to take place. It was banned by the Kenyan government, as Matigari teaches its readers that only armed struggle would result in freedom from corrupt and oppressive African dictatorships. Highly recommended!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Read this book 14 Feb. 2000
By Kristina & Joshua - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Although the author proposes that the reader set the story in any place they imagine, the Kenyan government took "matigari" quite personally... and Ngugi is now an exiled writer.
originally published in gukuu (sp?) this lyrical story is a written version of African oral story telling tradition. Matigari, victorious over his foe in the mountains, returns to his homeland to find it over-run with capitalism. He befriends a man, woman and a child, and journeys throughout his homeland seeking truth and justice. Word of his deeds travel, and quickly become exaggerated, until matigari himself is deified. The text brings up themes of community versus individualism, socialism versus capitalism... it questions the length of the arm of the United States in Africa... and shows the dangers of Africa taking on destructive "white" government systems.
The story is tragic and beautiful, and very true. Who is Matigari? Read the book and find out!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Matigari 2 Aug. 2006
By Gina - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Using Christian analogies, the book is is a metaphor for Kenya's - and all African countries' - struggle for freedom and an end to corruption. The fictional title character was so realistic that the Kenyan government issued a warrant for his arrest and banned the book!
A thought-provoking political parable 7 April 2014
By Steven Davis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Matigari is a political novel in the form of a parable. It is set in an unnamed African country, obviously based on the author's native Kenya but doubtless applicable to other lands. Matigari is a former independence fighter who emerges from the forest long after the war has ended, buries his AK-47 at the foot of a tree, and goes in search of the fruits his victory has won.

He goes to claim the house built by his own hands, but finds such houses are still in the hands of the Europeans and their toadies. He goes to the factory where he once worked only to find that black workers are still at the mercy of foreign investors. He sees children fighting over scraps from a garbage dump and living in an auto junkyard. He sees, and rescues, a woman being assaulted by police. Everywhere he goes, Matagari asks, "Where is truth and justice?"

Matigari becomes an instant legend. Is he the second coming of Jesus? Or is he a liberator of a different kind? Eventually Matigari himself, asking "where may truth and justice be found?," is told to find this miracle worker named Matigari--he is said to be a giant!

The novel is divided into three parts, with the central section a rather heavy-handed but occasionally funny satire of government propaganda and news doctoring. In the third part, however, Matigari renounces peaceful means, declaring "Justice for the oppressed springs from the organised armed power of the people." Ngũgĩ is clearly calling for an armed Marxist uprising to overthrow the corrupt government which is nothing but a puppet for continued American and European imperialism.

To understand the issues raised in Matigari that are specific to African history, Kenyan in particular, it might be best to first read other works by Ngũgĩ such as Petals of Blood which have direct historical and social references. However, there is much in Matigari that is universal--the tendency, for example, of people to wait for a savior rather than taking direct action to end injustice. It is also disturbing to ponder how many of the abuses and injustices Ngũgĩ ascribes to Kenyan society and its dysfunctional government may actually be present to a surprising degree in what we call "free" societies.
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