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Excerpt from Killing Sahara by Mukoma wa Ngugi (Plus: Podcast Interview)

Killing SaharaAs Mukoma wa Ngugi is one of the international authors who will be attending the Open Book festival in Cape Town from 7 – 11 September. Wa Ngugi grew up in Kenya, the son of writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o, but he now lives in America where he is assistant professor of English at Cornell University. His latest crime novel, Killing Sahara (published under the title Black Star Nairobi in the USA), was recently released.

In an interview with NPR, wa Ngugi explained that he chose the detective genre because you can do so much with it. “Not only can you tell a very, very entertaining story … but you can explore societal issues. In this case I look at the war on terror, the violence coming from the war on terror, the post-electoral violence. …”

Read an excerpt from Killing Sahara in which Ishmael Fofona and O investigate a corpse in Ngong Forest in Kenya:

Chapter 1

Gathering Clouds

A day before the explosion at the Norfolk Hotel, O and I stood in the middle of the infamous Ngong Forest, looking at the body of what had once been a suit-wearing tall black man. Devoured by the wild animals of Ngong, the man’s corpse looked more like an animal carcass. This was the worst kind of death — the victim barely resembled a human being.

It was around midday but it might as well have been midnight, with us canvassing for clues in the light of a full moon — the canopy of the ancient trees let in an annoying in-between light, too low to see well in, yet too bright for flashlights.

O said it first.

“This man has many secrets to tell.” He pointed at the man’s face — the half smile left on it suggested to me triumph at being discovered.

Listen to the podcast of the interview or read the transcript:


In a new work of crime fiction, you still have the detective and his buddy, the mysterious body that turns up at the outset, the crazy bar where the cops and criminals hang out together. Only this time, we’re not in Scandinavia or South Florida. We’re in Nairobi, beset with political violence, hotel bombings, ethnic warfare.

“Black Star Nairobi” is the second in a series from Mukoma Wa Ngugi. The novel opens with a dead body in a forest and two detectives who arrive to investigate.

MUKOMA WA NGUGI: As they’re looking into that, there’s a bomb explosion. And then they realize the two of them are connected. So they end up investigating the murder and the bomb explosion through al sorts of adversary or situations.

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