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When Sabby Mendes leaves Portuguese Goa aboard the dhow Monsoon Wind bound for British East Africa in 1916, he has one dream-to find work as a tailor in the relatively new capital of Nairobi. Sabby is a young man, still a teenager, but he is determined to build a life for himself, and he knows that the opportunities in the British Protectorate are better than those facing him at home. A bright, affable young man with a genuine passion and talent for tailoring, he is not prepared for what he is about to find beyond the Arabian Sea. The Protectorate, which will become British Colony of Kenya, is a highly segregated society with the British firmly ensconced at its top; below them are the "Asians" like Sabby; and at the very bottom are the native African population who are regarded as little more than savages in need of civilization. Beneath the African Sun offers, through the eyes of its protagonist, a street-level view of the changing social and political climate of Kenya between 1916 and 1970, including the 'Mau Mau' Uprising of the native Kikuyu, the eventual independence of Kenya in 1963, and the political fallout that followed. More than a history, it is a story about family, home, social justice, and what it means to truly belong somewhere.
Book Review: Book Touched My Life
By M P. on October 7, 2017
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
Five Stars from me because the book captures the life stories of so many of our Goan people, who hailed from humble backgrounds, as did my own grandfather (in Mombasa) and my father-in-law (in Nairobi), also tailors, who established themselves, around that same time. The story echo's their experiences. Furthermore, I had an uncle and auntie, also tailors, in Mombasa. Simple lives, but they made a big contribution in the development of East Africa, during the colonial era. Their lives, shaped later generations like myself and my wife.
The book is very easy reading and keeps the reader sufficiently enthused to find out what happens next. Although set as a novel, it is based on real life experiences of our folk from Goa, who ventured out into the unknown, as young men and women, exploring opportunities to earn a decent livelihood in the early 1900s. To accomplish what they did, required true pioneering spirit for which I am thankful.
The appeal of the book is likely to be to people of Goan extraction in the main, I would have thought. By strange coincidence, I also happened to meet the author Maria, and her late husband, in the village of Pedda, Benaulim, Goa, itself, years before the book surfaced. All-in-all, the book has special relevance and significance to me and my family. It provides a mirror image of our own forebears and documents the trials and challenges they confronted in raising their families. Needless to say, the book appealed to me dearly.
Marci Pereira: 07 October 2017
Genre: Historical Fiction, African, Contemporary Fiction
Maria’s Biography: Maria Lynch (Joanes) was born in 1948 in Nairobi, Kenya into a migrant family from Goa, India. In 1969 she earned her Commercial Teacher’s Diploma from Pitmans’s College, London, England. She migrated to Canada in 1970 and while in Toronto earned her B.A. (Economics), York University and B.Ed., University of Toronto. Since 1982 Maria served as a high school teacher with the Toronto Board of Education and the Toronto Catholic School Board. She engaged her students in Computer Science, Business and Math.
Upon earning her M. A. (Leadership and Training), Royal Roads University, British Columbia in 1999 she and her husband Tim moved to Metro Vancouver in British Columbia. Here she served as a College Instructor in the Business Department at Vancouver Community College and Kwantlen College. Later she served as a Web Tutor at BC Open University (now at Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, B.C) in the Business Program until 2008. She served as Board Director at Gateway Theatre, Richmond, B.C. and at The Gulf of Georgia Cannery, National Historic Site, Steveston, B.C.
Maria pursues her personal quest to define Western democracy. She is voluntarily active in the Canadian political arena of the Liberal Party that suits her personal philosophy of being towards the left of centre.
Maria commenced blogging in 2009; she posts personal reviews of the books she reads that include a variety of fiction and non-fiction. She also describes travel adventures in this blog. It is her personal archive. Maria’s love for reading and blogging prompted her to engage in writing fiction. She learned the craft of writing fiction from Ryerson University, Toronto and the Gotham Writers Workshop, New York that culminated into her first novel Beneath the African Sun; a tribute to her father’s legacy in Kenya.
On a personal note, Maria and her husband Tim raised their two sons in Toronto who are now grown adults pursuing their dreams. As a family and later on as a couple they loved the adventures of travelling and went exploring different places in a variety of countries including the wonders of Canada from coast to coast to coast. With overwhelming sorrow, Maria informs that as of February 24, 2017 Tim is no more; his voice has stopped but his words and love linger on as she discovers a solo path of life’s journey.
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