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Meja Mwangi's first novel, Kill Me Quick, was
written in 1973.
 This young adult novel displays Mwangi’s
talent for writing lively stories depicting rural youth and
societal problems in Kenya. It narrates the experiences of
Meja and Maina, two youths who have come to the city with
the hope of bettering their lives, confident that their high
school diplomas will lead to success. However, they are unable
to compete for jobs in the city and, ultimately, they resort to
petty theft and crime, and being exploited by employers.
Vivian Yenika-Agbaw, in her article ‘Half Education Is
Madness!’: Mwangi’s Teenage Characters Battle Poverty in a
Post colonial African City,' states that the novel shows the
failure of the educational curriculum in post colonial Africa. She
writes that it is 'a typical story of a dream deferred because
each pays the price of daring to hope for a better life' (15). Kill
Me Quick was also made into a stage play.

Mwangi’s keen eye for the drama and humor in everyday rural
life in Kenya shines throughout his work.
Striving for the
Wind, set in the drought years of the 1980s, contrasts a
traditional farmer, who is dependent on oxen for plowing, with
a wealthy neighbor whose imported tractor is incapacitated
during a global petrol crisis. While this novel is suitable for
young adults, it does not shy away from some painful
realities. It includes the seduction of a young schoolgirl by a
rich old man, and when the young girl becomes pregnant, his
son says that he will marry her in his father’s place.

Other themes that are common to all his works are the
difficulties young educated Kenyans face when trying to return
to their rural homes to apply their learning and the impact of
corrupt officials on the lives of the poor. The young adult
The Last Plague, which won Mwangi his third Jomo
Kenyatta Prize for Literature in 2001, offers a seldom-heard
African male perspective on the impact of HIV/AIDS in rural
areas. Again, it features a well-educated, well-meaning young
man facing many obstacles as he tries to set up his veterinary
practice in a small, dying town.  Mwangi’s tremendous concern
for the poor and disadvantaged—and his prescriptions for
how they could really be helped—resonate throughout the

Mwangi continues to be a prolific writer. His latest novel,
Boy Gift, will be released in 2006. Suitable for adults and
young adults alike, it is about the confusion caused by the
birth of a light-skinned, green-eyed baby in the Bush Hospital.
While political aspirations and intrigue surround the birth of
the boy, at the emotional and psychological levels the author
explores a community’s reaction to the strange and

Readers interested in fast-paced stories that impart
considerable information on contemporary obstacles to rural
development and healthcare are encouraged to continue
reading the impressive list of novels published by Meja Mwangi.
After a successful career as
a civil servant,
the Old Man breaks
ranks with the Big Chiefs and is banished
to live in poverty in the Pit. In a bitter
recollection, he reveals how the Big
Chiefs set their subjects against one
another in order to weaken and control
them. Now, like the Old Man who made it
to the top, romanced with power and
came tumbling down into the Pit, the Boy
and his generation are after the power
that the Big Chiefs deem as theirs and
theirs alone.

In this adaptation of Meja Mwangi’s
apocalyptic novel,
The Big Chiefs, the
author has crafted a play that is just as  
click here