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Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye obituary

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Kenyan writer whose novels and poetry focused on the country’s postcolonial transformation and social development

The British-born Kenyan writer Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye, who has died aged 87, told the story of her adopted country through novels about its downtrodden and dispossessed. Despite the challenges facing a postcolonial nation, she believed that the transformations it had to go through could be faced boldly, and equilibrium restored.

Murder in Majengo (1972), ostensibly a detective mystery cum political thriller, exposes the plight of poor young girls in the urban centres of newly independent Kenya, with its deepening inequality and injustice. It was republished with its sequel, Victoria, in 1993. Coming to Birth (1986) merges the development of a raw peasant girl into a mature, self-reliant woman with the evolution of the Kenyan nation through the painful experiences of the state of emergency, the heady days of independence and the subsequent power struggle and political violence. It won the Sinclair prize, an award funded in the 1980s by the British inventor Sir Clive Sinclair.

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