This is one of the most memorable books I read as a child growing up in colonial Kenya. The story portays how strange the first European settlers appeared to the indigenous African inhabitents, as imagined by one of the best writers of the colonial African experience. Probably seems very dated now, but the book conjures up scenes of African village life that must have been from the author's direct observation.
A thought provoking novel that stimulates and then challenges our moral certainty about the wrongs of imperialism. Huxley's narrative skillfully and convincingly draws us into the story of three generations of a Kikuyu family. A mere rumour at first, as the novel progresses, Europeans, personally and culturally, became increasingly a feature of African life. Readers naturally lament this outcome and its related developments: urbanisation, changes in agriculture and landownership, and the passing of native customs, both ceremonial and practical. Some might also have strong feelings about the Christian missionaries. But the novel's handling of female genital mutilation gives pause for thought, as does African enthusiasm for formal education. In a like manner, the depiction of native nationalism helps explain, in part, its lack of success until the 1950s (well over a decade after Red Strangers was published).
A fascinating insight into the coming of the 'white' man - red strangers - into East Africa as seen from the African point of view. Should be compulsory reading for anyone before they pontificate on Colonialism or Imperialism.
A fascinating account of the corrosive effect of one culture over powering another. You are left with a sense of loss at the destruction of a way of life - albeit an incredibly hard one- with an associated and fully interwoven world view is buried within a few generations as the juggernaut of Victorian values unwittingly crushes it. Very well written and characterised, the book makes for gripping read.
Ricahrd Dawkins was instrumental in getting this reprinted ad I'm glad. I've never read a book by a white author who got so well inside Kikuyu culture and conveyed how weird the colonising Europeans were and how carelessly they destroyed what was there before. It doesn't romanticise the old Kikuyu ways, but it's very respectful and well researched.
I read this some time ago and this copy was a present for my daughter who was travelling to Kenya for 2 weeks to visit her brother. She is reading it now, and she is enjoying it. It is informative as well as being a good read. Highly recommend this book. If you like Flame Trees at Thika you won't be disappointed by this.
'Red Strangers' is a beautifully written book following the lives of four generations of an african tribal family. The rich, descriptive language portrays the traditional ways of life so perfectly that you become completely immersed in them with the characters. In fact the description is so engrossing you fully understand the alienation and confusion the tribes felt when the red strangers from europe came and turned their worlds upside down. I really felt the anguish and upset the africans felt when told to stop living the life and traditions they had lived for generations, to change them for european ideals of what was correct and proper. I also felt the disappointment and anger at the elders when they say their children embrace aspects of the european life and leave their heritage behind. This story is epic in it's scope and one you start reading you will find it very hard to put down, as you will want to find out what happens next. This is one of those rare books that will stay with you for a long time after reading and leaves you better for having read it. Highly recommended.
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Rarely have I read 'the other person's point of view' written with such clarity and understanding. It opened up a whole new way of thinking to me. Of course, 'culture clash' is still going on today in many areas of the world. For every gain, something is lost.
In Britain we're used to believing we're the centre of the universe. Read RED STRANGERS to learn how others may view us. Elspeth Huxley's firsthand knowledge of her subject, written with empathy, compassion but without mawkishness or unwonted emotion. Rivetting. Exhausting, too. It results in exercising some caution and humility when intimately faced with another culture.