Review by Phyllis Luganda
Published April 14, 2007
Ken Kamoche’s A Fragile Hope
A collection of short stories focusing on the dilemmas faced by millions of people around the world penned by a Kenyan academic, journalist and creative writer based in Hong Kong, goes on sale around the world on May 15, 2007. PHYLLIS LUGANDA reports.
The book ‘A Fragile Hope’ is a simple, practical, heartfelt collection of 11 short stories exploring deeper into human nature, perhaps derived from the many people the writer has met, knows or has heard of.
The writer, Ken Kamoche, was born and brought up in Kenya but has worked in Kenya, Uganda, Somalia, Poland, United Kingdom, Portugal, Australia, Thailand and Hong Kong. Kamoche’s stories mainly revolve around racism, relationships, crime, hypocrisy, betrayal, corruption, education and dreams for self-improvement.
While the theme of corruption flows through stories like London Slaves, Random Check, and The Dream Went Out, Private Lessons highlights political injustice and corruption.
Africans, for instance, are discriminated against on the account of their colour whether they be in Britain or China. While a black man is stopped and his newspaper checked by Chinese officials apparently to ascertain he is no threat to any one, Chinese nationals ‘many of them weighed down by heavy suitcases’ do not even receive a glance.
While Kenyan Maina and Zambian Kalenga cannot marry the Chinese women they are in relationship with, the mother of a Chinese woman refers to her daughter’s black boy friend as a hak gwei, a black ghost.
Otieno, a trusted driver, betrays his boss’ trust by starting an affair with his wife.
Turning to Crime, Random Check talks about Macharia, husband to Maina’s sister who is car-jacked and shot in the head by thugs in Nairobi.
Though A Fragile Hope is a collection of stories set in Kenya, Britain, China, and Thailand, I wonder why most of the stories are about black people. Africa is portrayed as a continent full of evils like corruption, car-jacking and murder.
It would also be necessary to have a glossary of foreign words not explained in the book. For example, ha gau, char siu bau.
Though many of these stories published by Salt Publishing of Britain have previously been published in journals and magazines, these wonderful stories have now been compiled in this 132-page paperback book that goes on sale shortly at Savani’s Bookshop in Nairobi, Kenya. A single copy goes for US$14.95 or its equivalent in local currency.
Other books by Kamoche include Organizational Improvisation, and Understanding Human Resource Management.
“I was born in Kenya, studied Commerce at Nairobi University and management at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar,” Kamoche introduces himself on his we site, kenkamoche.com.
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“My academic writings are on how to manage people, how managers can learn from jazz improvisers, and the challenges of diffusing and appropriating knowledge. I’ve previously worked as an auditor in Kenya, Uganda, Somalia and as an economist in Poland; I’ve taught at universities in the UK, Portugal, Australia and Thailand, and currently Hong Kong. I also write fiction and journalistic articles for various newspapers and magazines.”