In the multi-faceted novel The East Africa Report, a young man leaves his life as a cattle shepherd in his African village with the hope of a better future, facing challenges and opportunities along the way.
Tempted by his brother’s offer of profitable work in the city, newly arriving Kamiri quickly realizes that “supplying people with happiness” via the drug trade is not the life he wants. Through a charity that helps migrants, he soon finds himself working for the wealthy Arusei family, which serendipitously leads to a dream opportunity to play on the Coast City Lions football team. Fame and fortune are short lived when an act of terrorism threatens his newfound career.
Kamiri’s self-exploration is intertwined with his friendship with Hassan Arusei, the black sheep of his employer’s family, who uncovers family secrets, explores the Muslim faith, and tries to gain his father’s respect as the story unfolds.
The complex narrative offers intermittent commentary via facilitators referenced as “The One” and “The Other.” Like an angel and devil vying for attention, these added voices serve to enhance the characters’ thoughts and considerations.
Dialogue lends insight into family dynamics, romantic interests, and evolving religious thought; the story highlights family concerns over interfaith marriages and brothers at odds as violent acts are enacted in the Allah’s name. Discussions of Nietzsche provide an interesting philosophical note as individuals try to become their best selves.
The narrative’s shifts from one subplot to another can seem a bit abrupt, and excessive details—such as a militant terrorist group’s training tactics—occasionally slow the story’s pace. Otherwise, the action moves steadily across a wide expanse, from a simple village, to city high rise offices, to a beautiful yet wild African terrain.
Despite the book’s academic-sounding title, this is a richly textured fictional work. It should hold great appeal to readers entertained by characters making important life decisions while searching for their place within a vast cultural landscape.