Ngugi Wa Thiong’o “The Upright Revolution”

Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s The Upright Revolution is a short story that was originally written in Gikuyu. The author wrote it as a Christmas gift for his daughter. According to him the primary essence of this story is “co-operation”. He wrote it while he was living in Cape Town. The fable tells the story of how “a long time ago humans used to walk on legs and arms, just like all the other four limbed creatures”, but how “their rhythm and seamless coordination made the other parts [of the body] green with envy”, and “they started plotting against the two pairs”.

This fable has been translated into 63 languages, 47 of them African, making it the most translated story in the history of African literature (Seagull AIS, PanMacmillan India, 2019). Some of the African languages it is available in are: ” Amharic, Dholuo, Kamba, Lwisukha (Luhya), Kipsigis, Kinyarwanda, French, Arabic, Luganda, Kiswahili, Afrikaans, Hausa, Meru, Lingala, IsiZulu, Igbo, Ibibio, isiNdebele, XiTsonga, Nandi (Kalenjin), Rukiga, Bamanankan, Lugbara, Lubukusu, Kimaragoli, Giriama, Sheng, Ewe, and Naija Langwej.” ( Alison Flood, “Short story by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o translated into over 30 languages in one publication“, The Guardian, 29 March 2016)

The Seagull Books edition of Upright Revolution is richly illustrated in full colour with graphic artist Sunandini Banerjee’s marvellous digital collages, which open up new vistas of imagination and add unique dimensions to the story, making this volume a veritable collector’s item.

In November 2019, an exhibition showcasing the history of modern Indian art had an entire panel devoted to Sunandini Bannerjee’s incredible digital collages created for this book. It was a fascinating display that had my little daughter mesmerised. So later when she received a copy of the book from the publisher, Naveen Kishore, her joy knew no bounds! To admire and appreciate art framed and hung on the walls of an art gallery and to be able to hold a book made of it is an incredible experience.

Buy this book! It gives one pure joy with the story, the illustrations, the manner in which all the elements come together to create a picture book for young and old alike. Love it!

4 Oct 2020

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