Title: The People of Ostrich Mountain
Author: Ndirangu Githaiga
Reviewer: Scholastica Moraa
Some stories leave after you read them, but some stay long after the last page. This was one such book. It lingers on like a fond memory. ‘The People of Ostrich Mountain’ tells the story of Wambui during the colonial period and as Kenya gained independence, her life in Alliance Girls High School, love for numbers, friendship with a British teacher Eileen Atwood and the lives of her children. Spanning decades, Ndirangu tells the story in a beautifully and simply written style that would be appealing to so many readers. From the foot of Mount Kenya, to Alliance Girls, to Nairobi and the streets of Chicago, the story grips you and never wants to let go.
It tells the story of mathematically talented Wambui, who has to grapple between different choices on a quest to give her family the best. The choices she has to make between her dreams and her love for her family. Her children, Muthoni and Ray, flourish abroad with Ray contending with different odds to become a medical doctor abroad. Ndirangu’s profession as a physician may be the reason behind a really enlightening exploration on the tribulations of a medical student both in Kenya and abroad.
The book also explores the life of Eileen Atwood, whose belief that her destiny lied in Kenya led her to live in the country for forty years shaping the lives of hundreds of girls in Alliance. Although the story is fiction, one cannot help but connect with the various characters in the story. The feeling of belonging, the struggle for independence, finding of one’s purpose, struggles with immigration, ruthless use of power, are but some of the issues we all deal with on a daily basis.
Apart from the desire to want the story to be fleshed out a bit, which may be just be a need from a thirsty reader, ‘The People of Ostrich Mountain’ is a beautiful read that I’d recommend to anyone looking for something African, relatable, beautiful and unputdownable.