" Burn My Heart " by Beverley Naidoo

Wednesday 13 May 2009
by  Ciara A
popularity : 10%

"Burn My Heart" is set in a time when "White and Black means Rich and Poor", and the Wazungu (white people) are taking over the Kikuyu’s (people of Kenya) land. Mugo is a young Kikuyu, working as the Bwana’s (master’s) kitchen toto on a Kenyan farm. He spends most of his free time with Mathew, the Bwana Kidogo (master’s son), getting up to mischief in the Kenyan savanna, hunting impalas and getting chased by angry elephants.

Meanwhile, the Mau Mau, which is a group of Kikuyu people fighting against the Wazungu to get their land back, is growing and becoming more powerful. Mugo’s family is part of this secret society, and the Wazungu are slowly taking them away to concentration camps. Then Lance comes along, son of the inspector, and manipulates Mathew into making an oath. " You split on us, Mat, and I’ll cut you dead forever ", Lance threatens him.

Mathew and Mugo are caught right in the middle of the violence and spreading suspicion, and with Mathew’s fatal betrayal, the boys’ lives will be changed forever. But can their friendship survive this betrayal?

"Burn My Heart" is a novel that not only plays with the reader’s emotions, but also shows in an engaged way how the British took over Kenya in the 1950s. It is written in meaningful language, and creates a strong Kenyan atmosphere by using words from the Swahili and Kikuyu languages. This novel opens the reader’s eyes to what damage the British caused by invading Kenya, and tells a touching story about how two young children from different backgrounds lived through this historical moment.