My Review of Mrs. Shaw by Mukoma Wa Ngugi

Mrs. Shaw was set during the 1990s in Kwatee, a small country in East Africa that got independence from British colonial rule but unfortunately entered a dictator rule. The book told the story of a young man Kalumba, once a freedom fighter and member of a group called Second Independence Democracy with Content Forum, or SIDCF that fought for independence from the dictator rule. Unfortunately, due to his involvement with the group he was listed among those to be executed by the government which forced him to go into exile.

The story followed him into exile in United States where he coincidentally met Mrs. Shaw, a white British grand mother who happened to be the wife of his country’s colonial master. He instantly developed a rather odd relationship with Mrs. Shaw. They hung out and drank together a lot. During one of their encounters, Mrs. Shaw invited him to her house and shared with him a story she had never shared with anyone. She brought out a skull from her bedroom and revealed that it was the skull of his late husband who she shot in the head and lied to the police that he was missing. The British and Kwateean government had believed that Mr. Shaw was kidnapped and murdered.


After a decade of living in the US, Kalumba didn’t feel like he accomplished a lot although, he was able to get his PhD, met Melissa, a beautiful young woman from Puerto Rico who was also an exile, and became a professional speaker. He saved up enough money and traveled back to his country where he hoped of becoming a professor, rejoining his group and taking part in his country’s politics.


When he got back home, things got crazy after he gave an interview to a journalist with a full detail of what happened to him and other activists on the list. At the time of the interview Kwatee was no longer ruled by a dictator. SIDCF had finally succeeded in taking over power. One of the agreements between the former dictator and SIDCF was to never speak of or publish anything about the murders committed by the dictator’s government. Kalumba wasn’t aware of this agreement. So, after his interview was published every Kwatee citizen knew the extent of the dictator’s evilness and the fact that their current leader hid it from them. Kwateeans were angry and organized a rally to air their grievances. At this point, Kalumba’s life was in danger. His fellow SIDCF members sent him threats and warned him to go back into exile. On the day of the rally things seriously went south. Kwateeans found out that their current democratic leader was not so different from the former dictator.


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