To the common reader Ngugi's Matigari sounds like a naive, almost quaint sort of fable. But those who have studied the history of colonial Kenya, particularly the Mau Mau rebellion and it suppression by British Authorities, will recognize a bitter critique of post-colonial Kenya from the viewpoint of those who fought and suffered for the country's independence. Matigari is a sort of "everyman" representing the Mau Mau guerrillas and their displacement in an independent Kenya where the players have changed, but the structures of power have not, despite the freedom fighters' efforts and sacrifice. The book was outlawed in Kenya because it was thought to be a literary provocation to violence. This might be true. The main character, returning from war, attempts to use peaceful means to unite his family (representative of the country) but finds that, in order to survive, he must return to the violence that he had previously buried with his weapons of war. It is a beautifully-realized work that doesn't get due credit, largely because most readers are unfamiliar with the historical context from which the book was born. I would recommend reading some of the accounts of Mau Mau fighters (several have been published) before tackling Matigari, since one's appreciation of the themes and the emotional landscape of the book are dependent on some familiarity with the suffering and idealism of the Mau Mau fighters.