52 pages 1 hour read

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o

Dreams in a Time of War

Nonfiction | Autobiography / Memoir | Adult | Published in 2005

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Index of Terms


A Gĩkũyũ term that refers to a tenant living on land that does not belong to them. Ngũgĩ discusses the status of his father who loses his land to Lord Kahahu. His father continues to live on the land but no longer has cultivating or grazing rights to it. He is an ahoi.


A Swahili word that refers to an open place for public meetings. Ngũgĩ uses this word to describe the compulsory meetings that chiefs and headmen imposed on their constituents to listen to government propaganda and issue communal labor parties.


A marital gift from the husband’s family to the wife’s. In traditional Gĩkũyũ society, bridewealth often consisted of the exchange of cattle. Ngũgĩ discusses bridewealth in connection to his parents’ marriage and the difficulty of returning the cattle after their separation, which is why formal divorce is typically avoided in these kinds of marital arrangements.