4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Just a bit too much Swahili!!,
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This review is from: Speak Swahili, Dammit!: A tragic, funny African childhood (Kindle Edition)
This book follows the childhood of the author 'Jimu' Penhaligon, lived in a small mining town in what was then Tanganyika, soon after WW2. He grew up with more African playmates that white ones (though there is a tight-knit 'gang' of assorted childfren from different backgrounds and white' countries), and his parents left him and his older sister to be brought up largely by an African Amah and her husband, to whom he is extremely attached. Swahili becomes his first language.
Jim's father, weakened by war injuries, dies young leaving his vivacious mother to bring up Jim and his older sister. There are also 2 much older brothers who live in England and who appear in the book a couple of times. His mother gets a job in the stores in the town and she is assisted by the company to send both children to boarding school 2 days' journey away. Of course Jim hates this although he has many adventures there.
The book is a very detailed description of life in Africa after the war. The natives are not allowed in the 'white man's' club and are quite oppressed, though those in the Penhaligon household are treated as equals and much loved.
Others have given a much more detailed description of the 'plot' - a collection of stories skillfully linked by the author - lasting from early childhood until his early teens when the family had to return to the UK, after Tanzania was formed from Tanganyika and Zanzibar. The mine was forced to close by taxing it heavily and the white population gradually melted away.
I don't know if there is a sequel. I wonder if the author ever returned, what happened to his black 'family', did they keep in touch? Although I quite enjoyed this book there was so much Swahili in it it made the reading very jerky and irritating.
It would appeal to anyone who knows the area, or anything about African military history -the book is full of it and I 'speed-read' many pages, including the chance meeting with 'Loopy' when Jim and family were on leave. Loopy had been in the military and had a long,long War story to relate. As I have no interest in military history and certainly not African military history, I found many parts quite boring, and incomprehensible. (German is used as well as Swahili).
Not my cup of tea at all, but would have been better (for me at least) without all the 'war stories'.
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Initial post: 6 May 2013 11:05:23 BDT
Last edited by the author on 7 May 2013 07:29:01 BDT
Perhaps you'd prefer a book written only in English, for an English reader who isn't interested in other peoples or languages. This book was written for those who ARE interested, and not for you, clearly. You make your interests, or lack of interests, clear by writing 'As I have no interest in military history and certainly not African military history, I found many parts quite boring, and incomprehensible. (German is used as well as Swahili).' Why, then, read this book, I must ask. To top that, you write 'I don't know about 'Speak Swahili, dammit', the author made up for it by 'writing Swahili -dammit!'' You don't make sense, honestly. Since this comment was posted, I see you removed the last meaningless sentence. And it's LOPEY, not LOOPY! Please note YOUR further error. I think your 'speed-reading' tells, and, if it leads to you making comments like this, is the fault with the book, or with you? We're down to 'cups of tea' now. Why don't you just remove the review, which says more about you than the book? Oh yes, and if you decide to write a worse review in response, we shall post all the versions to Amazon.
In reply to an earlier post on 1 Feb 2014 20:54:03 GMT
J. Forbes says:
Calm down, Trevelyan. You can't please all of the people all of the time, and this response to a rather silly review does you no credit.
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