The Kiswahili book, Ni Rangi Tu, is written by renowned journalist Ally Mtenzi and is published by Oxford University Press. This book is ideal for every school aged person.
He illuminates the sensitive, but vital, theme of the plight of people living with albinism and the discrimination the society has subjected them to, drawing parallels to the sad reality. He begins by explaining the contentment of his fictitious character – Majaaliwa, who the book is centred on. He describes his pleasure of landing a plum job after overcoming insurmountable odds while growing up and in his relentless pursuit of education.
The seasoned journalist employs affluent Kiswahili vocabulary that is as gratifying as it is enlightening to the language enthusiasts and learners. Mtenzi’s style of creating suspense from the very beginning urges you to keep reading. He illustrates Majaaliwa’s parents unease upon giving birth to an albino child, to the point of reading mischief.
The birth is a subject of chiding from neighbours and the community members who associate the child to results of witchcraft. In school, the boy is subjected to diverse forms of discrimination and bullying from peers while some schools openly refuse to admit him.
He also spotlights the cruel events of few years ago that involved the kidnapping of albinos, killing and harvesting their body parts for sale especially in Tanzania.
The body organs were said to be used in witchcraft. He reminds of the events by describing a plot to kidnap Majaaliwa by a notorious syndicate masquerading as sponsors of bright learners seeking to interview campus students to benefit from their programme. However, their ploy is brought to its knees by a suave detective (inspector Beatrice) working in campus to mitigate crime.
Her smooth operations lead her to boyfriend the syndicate kingpin which eventually uncovered their human trafficking deals. It is after enumerating the sad journey of Majaaliwa that the story connects with his earlier satisfaction of occupying a high office, and how he has managed to be a subject of envy from those that earlier despised him.
Majaaliwa’s rag to riches story informs the title of the book-Ni rangi tu (It is just the colour), which sets to explain that albinism is not a deformity but lack of a colour pigment in the body. It is also not a disability. Mtenzi’s rich language in the book and narration creates an emotional touch to the story that makes the events appear real other than a work of fiction.
He has employed numerous proverbs and idioms to illustrate scenarios and infuse beauty in the reading. Its paltry 89 pages further ensure the readers do not tire, especially those averse to long books.
The proverbs and the bombastic Kiswahili vocabulary are explained at the end of the book in their contexts. For students, he has set revision questions based on the story to test their grasp and understanding of the book. It also has been nominated for this Years’s Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature