Book Review: The Wretched Africans by Joe Khamisi

Author: Joe Khamisi

Publisher: Jodey Book Publishers

Price: Kshs 1800 $20

We are familiar with the Trans-Atlantic trade (Triangular Trade) that saw about 17 Million Africans transported to the Americas as slave. Millions of course perished in the deplorable boats across the vast Atlantic Ocean. However, little is known about the Indian Ocean Trade on the eastern front of Africa.

Do not get me wrong, but, people rarely talk about the slavery in East Africa that saw the establishment and thriving of Rabai and Freretown among other slave settlements at the East African coast; Ghana, recently apologized to descendants of the slaves the country could have sold to the America. Ghana was among the first African countries to obtain independence from Britain. She is celebrating her 50th birthday next year and so, to begin the next half a century, she has resolved to throw her pride down and accept her part in the inhumane trade.

Meanwhile, on the Eastern front, one man has revived the story of slavery. Joe Khamisi has written a story that delves into the atrocities of slave Trade along the famous Indian Ocean coast. The book casts a shadow over abolitionists and rubbishes the so called Missionaries while laying victory on the African slaves who played a much huge role in not only salvaging themselves out of bondage but also making the explorers achieve their goals.

It is within the book that you will learn of the loyalty of Africans to their masters and how brutally they were treated. In another twist of events, you will be shocked to see the different side of H.M Stanley and David Livingstone, you will be intrigued by Rebmann and come to terms on how Bombay Africans shaped the coast and cast a dark cloud over the Arab and Swahili slave owners.

One particular man that deserves a statue of honor is William Jones- a relentless man, who was more pious than the missionaries and who should be looked at as the rock on which the African church was build.

The author tries to create an Africa whose achievement was shadowed by the storytellers from the west to distort the true African tale. Like the lion in the jungle, the African story was that of savages who deserve no aspect of appreciation from the superior races.

However, The Wretched Africans is also a story that seeks to recognize the slave descendants who currently reside in Kenya. The book also seeks to acknowledge the existence of this people as Kenyans despite their ancestry. It also marks the Slave descendants as among the early contributors to the struggle of independence in Kenya.

Furthermore, it sought to request for a belated apology from those who participated in the brutal slavery- just like Ghana, it is never too late to say sorry.

Joe Khamisi has done extensive research work as revealed by the Book’s content. In Dr. Mshai Mwangola’s words, the book’s chapters could be a topic of a PhD thesis for those in the field of History. The simple language reveals Joe as a master story teller and makes the book readable by all audiences. However, the first publication was done poorly but the author promised better qualities in the succeeding publications.

The book was launched on the 7th April 2016 at Goethe institute Nairobi. So far it is among the few books that documents what could be viewed as Kenya’s 43rd tribe.

Joe Khamisi is a Kenyan author, former journalist, diplomat and former Member of Parliament residing in the United States. He has penned publications that are entirely non-fiction.

Previous publications Politics of Betrayal: Diary of a Kenyan Legislator, his second is his own autobiography.

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