Mweja Mwangi’s The Big Chiefs is a story told to a Boy and a Girl by an Old Man, a Doctor who for a long time as a civil servant had been everything from provincial Medical officer to chief government Chemist to, for a short spell, a nominated Member of Parliament and Health Minister who had been banished to a remote outpost that had no staff, and no medicine or water. The Big Chiefs is a text that explores the touching issues of the clamor for power that causes civil strike in Africa which tries to elaborate the question , “how and why a people who fasted and feasted together, lived and reasoned together, intermarried and integrated, should suddenly rise against each other’s nearest and dearest.”
The story revolves around nameless characters after a war that represent various post-Independence African relations with a setting that calls to mind post genocide Rwanda when the guilt complex catches up with the other African Political generations. The ghosts of those who died in senseless tribal wars through preaching tribal hatred keep haunting the older class to the grave and beyond.
That is why the director of the yearly Fest’ Africa in Lilly, France in 1998, called upon African writers to break the silence of the African intelligential about the mass graves testifying to what should never happen again and which should therefore not be forgotten. They were so impressed that after a two months tour of the Rwandan State and having had talked to the survivors they refrained from a collective pamphlet and instead wrote their individual accounts in a form each though most suitable e.g. novel, short stories, essays and poems. Having had touched the issue about genocide directly or indirectly all authors subscribed to the view that literature is capable of what other texts and media failed to do; i.e. to justify and more by creating images that are real and vivid.
The genocide in Rwanda was one of the most ruthless and effective of...