New Directions in Kenyan Children’s Literature: Individual Stories as Narratives of Colonial Invasion and Decolonization

Dr. Muriungi, C. K


This article is based on three texts from a series of biographies written for young readers in Kenya, and it examines how stories of certain personalities are used to narrate the history of decolonization to the Kenyan children. The authors of these biographies reinvent Kenyan history, not through a historical project but through a literary intervention, which the discussion divulges. The lives of the characters discussed in this article are used to trace Kenya’s history from the onset of colonial invasion, the loss of land and the cruelty of colonial rule, the struggle for independence, to the partly failed struggle to right the inequalities of the past in a postcolonial Kenyan environment. A reading of these texts therefore forces one to acknowledge that the politics of colonial and post-independence governments in Africa are inscribed in children’s literature. I argue that issues of decolonization are important to the growing up minds, and that inclusion of such issues in children’s books gives a new direction to literature meant for children.

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