Detained: A Writer’s Prison Diary by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

The international outcry over Ngũgĩ’s detention without trial by the Kenyan authorities reached him even in Kamĩtĩ Maximum Security Prison. With great accomplishment, he describes the purposeful degradation and humiliation of the political detainees, the neglect and casual cruelty that undermined their health, the debilitating blend of tension and tedium that marked each day in prison. From time to time the routine was fractured by acute distress, when Ngũgĩ refused to wear the chains that were a condition of family visits; by astonishment, when a warder lectured Ngũgĩ about the tyranny of foreign languages; by an agonizing sense of loss, when Ngũgĩ’s novel was seized by the prison guards. An artfully integrated series of reflections enables him to place his own and the other detainee’s treatment as constituent elements of neocolonialism.

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