Milele Africa : Memories of My Grandmother’s World of the Spirit in Kenya

by Paul Kihiu Njuguna

Two main themes marked Paul Kihiu Njuguna’s early education in Kenya. One was defined by the 13 years he spent as a scholarship student at a prominent modern boarding school in the city of Nairobi. The other flowed from his time as a child in the village of Kangemi, living next door to his grandmother, a traditional African wise woman of great skill and repute.

Milele Africa is the story of how these two main themes have subsequently blended into a new kind of life. It is a life that mixes the modern West with the oldest traditions of Africa forever. (“Milele” is in fact “Forever” in Swahili, Kenya’s national language.) Paul is a citizen of the world, adept at the latest technologies. But he has also discovered that the traditional and deeply spiritual Africa he learned about from his grandmother still has some things to tell the future. Much trouble in our world, Paul’s grandmother has finally taught him, has “a lot to do with failure by human beings to understand what goes on in the mind of the other. Everywhere today there are many different histories, which need to understand each other.”

Milele Africa strikes many different and always interesting blows in the struggle for this kind of understanding. It is an engaging book to read, full of a spirit that comes straight from the heart. Here are some gentler antidotes to terrorism in the global village. And here is some of the more optimistic human background to the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, promoted by Canada at the 2002 G8 summit. (You’ll also learn a lot more about what it’s like to live in the real Kenya nowadays than you ever did watching Survivor!)

Paul Kihiu Njuguna works in the tourism industry on the sunny coast of the Indian Ocean in Kenya. It’s a place where a traditional Islamic culture, strongly influenced by the Arabian peninsula and the Indian subcontinent, has lately been bumping up against various new waves of a wider world. Paul himself, originally from a Christian background in the Kenya interior, married a coast girl and now lives in the Mombasa area, with his wife and two children.

128 pages, 140 x 215 mm, softcover, b&w photos and maps. ISBN:1-896973-31-0.

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