52 pages 1 hour read

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o

Dreams in a Time of War

Nonfiction | Autobiography / Memoir | Adult | Published in 2005

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Pages 1-78Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Pages 1-8 Summary

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o introduces Dreams in a Time of War with a description of an important event in his life that highlights the socioeconomic inequality and violence enacted against Africans in colonial Kenya. He describes the escape of his older brother, Wallace Mwangi (also known as Good Wallace), from the police in 1954.

Ngũgĩ first learns of the escape from men and women in the marketplace of Limuru, a town located in central Kenya. This area is part of the “White Highlands,” a vast swath of land that the colonial governor set aside for Europeans in 1902, which led to the disenfranchisement and impoverishment of Africans.

The townspeople explain that the police arrested a young man for having bullets, a capital offense. The young man escaped from the police and ran through the town. The police opened fire on him, but he was not hit and found coverage in the tea plantations where he later escaped into the mountains. From there, people presume he joined the Mau Mau guerrilla fighters, a group working to overturn colonial rule.

Notably, Ngũgĩ does not realize the young man he heard about in the marketplace is his older brother until he returns home for dinner, whereupon his mother informs him that his brother “narrowly escaped death” (8).