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Unbury Our Dead With Song Unbury Our Dead With Song by Mũkoma wa Ngũgĩ


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Title: Unbury Our Dead With Song
Author: Mũkoma wa Ngũgĩ

Unbury our Dead With Song is a novel about four talented Ethiopian musicians – The Diva,
The Corporal, the Taliban Man and Miriam, who are competing to see who can sing the best
Tizita (popularly referred to as Ethiopian blues). Taking place in an illegal boxing hall in Nairobi,
Kenya, the competition is covered by a US educated Kenyan journalist, John Thandi Manfredi,
who writes for a popular tabloid, The National Inquisitor. He follows the musicians back to
Ethiopia in order to learn more about the Tizita and their lives. As he learns more about the
Tizita and the multiple meanings of beauty, he uncovers that behind each of the musicians, there
are layered lives and secrets. Ultimately, the novel is a love letter to African music, beauty and

About the author
Mukoma Wa Ngugi is an Associate Professor of English at Cornell University and the author of
The Rise of the African Novel: Politics of Language, Identity and Ownership, the novels Mrs.
Shaw, Black Star Nairobi, Nairobi Heat, and two books of poetry, Logotherapy and Hurling
Words at Consciousness. He is the co-founder of the Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African
Literature and co-director of the Global South Project – Cornell.

“Part mystery, part road novel, part philosophical enquiry, [this] is a dazzling journey to discover
the meaning of music and its immense power over the human soul.” – Aminatta Forna, author
of Happiness and The Devil that Danced on the Water
“Unbury Our Dead With Song is not merely a literary and a musical masterpiece but an artistic
triumph.” – Zukiswa Wanner, author of The Madams and Men of the South
“If you are someone who is stirred by the sound of a song, or feel an ache in your heart over a
farewell, and you enjoy a well-crafted and honest book – please put this one on your reading
list.”New African Magazine
“To understand this music, Mũkoma takes us to its source on a journey of self-discovery. To the
dives, rural farmlands and stadiums of Ethiopia to hear a sound that carries the haunting of ages
past. It is at once a sound that redeems, castigates, and bends the listener to submission. This is a
story about the places we run to in order to hide from our darkest deeds, and the unexpected
salvation extended to us by a music with enough history to cover over a multitude of sins…and
the friends we make along the way on our journey to redemption.” -Eric Wainaina, singer and



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