Makau Mutua reviews Jeff Koinange’s book and confesses that he couldn’t put the book down


Some books are simply page-turners. Such is star journalist Jeff Koinange’s Through My African Eyes. No African journalist before Mr Koinange had been so internationally famous. Nor are we likely to see the likes of him any time soon. Mr Koinange is a Kenyan original, one of a very rare species.

Through My Africans Eyes isn’t, strictly speaking, an autobiography. It’s more a memoir, a narrowly focused category of the larger genre of autobiography. An autobiography is the “story of one’s life,” written by that author. A memoir, on the other hand, is the “story from a life,” also written by the author in the first-person.

In his book, Jeff Koinange doesn’t bloviate, or engage in pomposity. He doesn’t hide his personal warts — insecurities, hopes, and fears. He paints a compelling montage of his imposing pedigree as a member of the Koinange family royalty.

He demonstrates you can be a pan-Africanist without being defensive about Africa’s woes. He tells the stories of man’s inhumanity to man without varnish. He calls a spade as such. He doesn’t hide the fact that he was flummoxed by the savagery of African warlords and their minions. The scenes he describes of the civil wars in Liberia, Sierra Leone, DRC, and other basket cases are horrific and impossible to comprehend.

But he tells these stories while preserving the humanity of the victims. He’s especially troubled by the abominations against women and children. At many intervals, he forgets that he’s a reporter and not a human rights worker. He never exhibits a superiority complex.

Jeff Koinange has given us a gem, an uncensored expose of his life as a journalist.

Read the full review here

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