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Meja Mwangi's second Mau Mau novel tells the story of a Anvil. The group
is under the command of a general called Haraka (Hurry) and the plot revolves
round the fight between Haraka's men and British troops led by a Captain
Kingsley.18 The fictional protagonists, Haraka and Kingsley, know each other as
Haraka was once chief of a village under Kingsley's jurisdiction. The Captain is
under pressure from his superiors, who demand immediate results in the
attempts to crush the resistance met with from Haraka and his men.
The narrative displays an obvious ambivalence in characterisation, theme and
language. The narrator portrays the protagonists as partly human and
considerate, partly brutal and repressive, but with a difference. Haraka is
endowed with the most negative personal traits. He kills three of his own men.
Towards the end of 1954, as a result of the so-called villagization programme,
about one million Gikuyu were resettled in 800 new villages surrounded by
barbed wire and watch towers. This is an indication of the difficulties Mau Mau
had to face to get support and supplies.
Mwangi has "exhumed his Mau Mau ghost" in his two
novels Carcase for Hounds and Taste of Death (note).
The'thrillers that Mwangi began to write during the late 1970s
and 1980s form a second category of texts, and have put him
at the heart of a raging critical debate in the Kenyan literary
establishment over the merits of serious versus popular
literature. The third category of Mwangian writing, in fact
written before Mwangi began his popular writings, is that of the