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Black Ghosts-bookcover

By: Ken N Kamoche

Black Ghosts

Pages: 376 Ratings: 4.6
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Dan Chiponda earns a scholarship to study in China and reluctantly leaves Zimbabwe for an uncertain future. While stoically dealing with racial abuse in a country where Africans are known as black ghosts, he is too timid to engage in the money-making schemes available to students. Yet he remains haunted by the weight of his mother’s expectations, encapsulated by the image of the African fish eagle. But the best he can do is a safe job in a bar run by the enigmatic Wang. Things take a dramatic turn when Chinese students pour into the streets in an orgy of violence to drive Africans out of town. Dan’s first impulse is to escape to Zimbabwe but the pressure from his family and the love for his girlfriend Lai Ying force him to stay put. In the aftermath of the riots, tight rules force the foreign students to create innovative ways to see their girlfriends, and in the midst of all this, Lai Ying gets pregnant and secretly procures an abortion. Nothing will ever be the same again.

Ken N Kamoche was born and raised in Kenya. He was educated at the University of Nairobi and the University of Oxford. He is a management academic, occasional newspaper columnist and writer of fiction. Ken’s collection of short stories, A Fragile Hope (Salt, 2007), was shortlisted for the Commonwealth First Book Award. After travelling frequently to Asia, Ken took up a job in Hong Kong in 1998 supposedly for two years. The two years soon turned into ten, involved extensive travel up and down China, and ultimately inspired this novel.

Customer Reviews
11 reviews
11 reviews
  • Priscah Gakunga (Edited version)

    This is surely one of the best books to have been published in recent years. Ken takes you on an epic journey from Zimbabwe, a country filled with hope to China in the 1980s where people live in tough times unlike today, to exciting Hong Kong and back again years later to Zimbabwe which is now in flames. Along the way you encounter one unforgettable character after another, Professor Sheng who feeds his students education like rice! Wang who runs the bar and changes like a chameleon to suit his surroundings, a bit like Mugabe's Generals he ends up doing business with. The lovely Lai Ying Dan marries then she runs off and he goes on an adventure to find her. You literally can't put this book down. It's the kind of book you return to every now and then, and each time you'll find a new gem. Thanks so much, Ken, for a true masterpiece!

  • Francis Githae Muriithi

    I have never been to China. Perhaps, due to a lack of an opportunity and a fear of the unknown.
    Thanks to the book “Black Ghosts”, A seed of curiosity has now been planted in me – I now want to visit China and experience it for myself too!
    In his book, Ken authentically shares the lived experiences of three African gentlemen studying in China - (Dan) from Zimbabwe, Kabinga from Rwanda and Diallo from Guinea.
    I recommend this book to anyone looking for their next read. Especially if going to study, work, live or do business in China.

  • Peter Blunt UNSW (Canberra)

    This book provides telling – and, I suspect, highly personalised - insights into eternal struggles: between master and slave, between races and cultures, between the haves and the have nots, and between political and economic ideologies. In doing so, it traverses a wide terrain and tells a captivating and compelling story, one that extends from the relics of the British Empire in Zimbabwe to modern China. It recounts persuasively the struggle between the older generation of the dispossessed and the vestiges of British colonialism in sub-Saharan Africa, which included the main character’s family, and the challenges faced by the new generation of indigenous peoples of former colonies and neo-imperialism. Like the memories from his youth of the African fish eagle struggling to lift its prey out of the water, the main character’s experiences show how the conditions of both the old and the new imperialism are laced with institutional racism and prejudice and how difficult it is for people to rise above them. Any reader who is not clearly and always identifiable with the dominant race or ruling class will find much to empathise with in this engagingly written book and - perhaps with more than a touch of sadness - much to enjoy.

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