Jane Bwye

Breath of Africa


Nominated for The Guardian First Book Award and Not The Booker Prize 2013

Book Trailer 

Dedicated to the people of Kenya, BREATH OF AFRICA is a novel by Jane Bwye, retired businesswoman and intermittent freelance journalist who lived over half a century in Africa.

After the 2013 elections and the Westgate siege, Kenya moves on in hope, epitomised in the book, which means different things to different people; it can be read as love storypsychological thrilleror as an exploration into the interactions of people of different races. Superstition and Christian faith clash. And the stunning beauty of the country is a major character in itself.

Caroline is a privileged woman from the highlands, and Charles Ondiek, a farm labourer with dreams of Oxford. A drama of psychological terror is fuelled by Mau Mau oath administrator, Mwangi, but against the backdrop of Kenya’s beautiful but hostile desert, the curse is finally broken.

The book is available from Smashwords,  Barnes & NobleAmazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

It can be bought from The Book Depository with FREE Delivery Worldwide!

You can order a personalised signed copy by contacting me HERE.

In Nairobi, it is stocked by THE BOOKSTOP, Ya Ya Centre. 


The proceeds of every copy of BREATH OF AFRICA sold goes to ST PETER’S LIFE LINE. This UK registered charity was founded in 2009 by David Baldwin who was born and brought up in Kenya. After many years away, he responded to a cry in the wilderness from Kajuki, a village in the shadow of Mt. Kenya.

Schools and classrooms are being built, and mothers made aware of the evils of Female Genital Mutilation. They have also embraced the idea of turning their lives into micro-businesses, using the Grameen system, pioneered by Nobel laureate, Bangladeshi Professor Yunus.



askari   guard
bandas   round huts
bibis   Pronounced 'bee-bees', wives
boma   livestock enclosure
bwana   of Arabic origin, used as a respectful form of address for a man
chai   literally 'tea'. Another word for bribe.
chang'aa   an illegal alcoholic drink, distilled from grains, which is very potent.
Chini Club   literally 'the Club down below', the Mombasa Club on the shores of the old harbour, exclusive to Europeans
Coup   The coup of 1982, attempted by disaffected politicians, was quickly smothered by the Government, under President Daniel arap Moi. After the Coup, Kenya became a one-party state.
Daniel arap Moi   A member of the Kalenjin tribal community. He was Vice President of Kenya in 1967, and succeeded the Kikuyu Jomo Kenyatta as President from 1978-2002. In turn, Moi's Vice-President was a member of the Kikuyu tribe.
Dawa   medicine
duka   small wayside shop
habari   how is everything, or how are you?
Harambee   We will all pull together. The slogan of President Jomo Kenyatta when he came to power at Independence in 1963. Included in this invitation were people of all races, in an effort to foster reconciliation.
Hola Massacre   A dark moment in Kenya's history in 1959, when hard core detainees in Hola prison camp got out of hand, and were beaten by local warders in the absence of officers, who had devised a divide and rule technique to force the prisoners to work. Eleven died. The name of the place was changed, and the event hastened the granting of Independence.
Independence   The Mau Mau rebellion precipitated the granting of Independence to Kenya in 1963. There was a major exodus of settler farmers in the run up to Independence, as they took advantage of the British Government's compensation program for improvements to the land, which had been allocated to them in the early 1900's.
ingini   pidgin Swahili for "more."
jambo   greetings
Jomo Kenyatta   A member of the Kikuyu tribe, he was Kenya's first President. He went to mission school, and after furthering his education in England and Russia, he returned to Kenya to play an active part in politics. He was arrested in 1952 for implication in the Mau Mau movement, and finally released in 1961. During his term of office, Kenya was a two-party Republic.
jua kali   literally 'hot sun', refers to businesses open to the elements
KPR   Kenya Police Reserve, formed in 1948 to support the regular police
kanzu   long white robe worn by African house servants
kikapu   Pronounced 'kee-kaa-poo', a commonly used soft basket made of woven straw.
kikoi   a colourful length of cotton, fringed at each end, often worn round the waist
Kikuyu   farming people of Bantu origin, the largest ethnic group in Kenya, who started the Mau Mau rebellion of the 1950's
kitenge   length of colourful multipurpose cotton
Kukes   White settler slang for their Kikuyu labourers. The Mau Mau terrorists belonged to the Kikuyu tribe.
kuni   firewood
kwaheri   goodbye
lakini   but, or however
Masai   Pronounced Maaa- sai. A powerful semi-nomadic warrior tribe of Nilotic origin, whose lives centre round the herding of cattle. Traditional enemy of the Kikuyu.
matatus   pronounced 'maa-taa-toos', local taxis, usually minibuses, which were crammed with as many people as possible
Mathare   The name given to notorious slums on the outskirts of Nairobi, bordering on the exclusive suburb of Muthaiga
Mau Mau   Liberation fighters from the Kikuyu tribe against the white farmers during the 1950's, which led to Kenya's Independence in 1963
memsahib   originating from India, colonial title of respect for white women
Mzee   to rhyme loosely with 'day', this is the respectful Kiswahili word for 'old man'
mzungu   a white man
mzuri   well, or good
ndio   yes
nusu-nusu   literally half-half. A person who is half one race, half another
Ondiek   pronounced 'On-dee-eck'. Charles Omari Ondiek is a member of the agricultural Kisii tribe. Of Bantu origin, the Kisii occupied fertile land along the shores of Lake Victoria, and frequently battled against the neighbouring Masai.
posho   porridge made with maize meal
rungu   traditional weapon comprising a stick with a heavy knob on the end
shambas   farmland, small holdings
shauri ya mungu   God's will
sijui   pronounced 'si-jew-ee', I don't know
sikia   listen
simba   lion
sufuria   metal cooking pot
sukuma wiki   literally 'pushing the week', a hardy vegetable, which tastes like spinach, eaten when there is nothing left of the weekly wage
swara   antelope
syce   Arabic origin, common word for a groom
Tanganyika   A sovereign state in East Africa, south of Kenya, until 1964 when it joined with Zanzibar and the name was changed to Tanzania
thahu   Pronounced 'Thaa – hoo', curse
totos   Pronounced 'toe-toes', children
wananchi   ordinary people
watu   people
wazungu   white people




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Jane Bwye finished Invincible Louisa by Cornelia Meigs https://t.co/n3zwveXylo
Saturday, 27 January 2018 04:39