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Learning from Luwueri: Courage, focus win against hardship

Book title: The Test of Courage

Author: David Ole Munke

Publisher: Queenex, 2021

Reviewer: Dr Larry Ndivo, Machakos University

Lewueri is a young man whose life is at the crossroads. A communal conflict leads to the destruction of property and the life of his people, leaving him orphaned. He seeks refuge in a neighbouring clan that considers his lineage adversarial, but the members of the community spare his life. He is adopted by the family of Ole Keshu on the condition that he will never own property nor marry but remain a servant to the family.

Lewueri is a hard worker and establishes himself as quite reliable from the beginning. Indeed, Ole Keshu becomes envious and begins to wish that Lewueri was his biological son. Lewueri accomplishes all the tasks assigned to him with precision and does not grumble even when he encounters adversities. In his escapades, he has to fight off a buffalo, rhino and eventually almost drowns whilst trying to save the life of the chief’s son who is stranded in a river.

Throughout the narrative, the reader discerns a deliberate effort by the writer to educate the audience about Maasai culture and language. There is a calculated use of Maa words and reference to various Maa shrubs/herbs and other common names used daily.

Lewueri is contrasted against other young men who either come across as lazy or outrightly unfocussed in life. He is set apart as obedient and someone who takes initiative especially when he participates in communal barazas and contributes by sharing crucial advice that aids the community to make the right decisions during major events.

Eventually, despite the odds, that is everything in life seeming to be against him, luck smiles on Lewueri when he saves the son of the chief and all the sanctions imposed on him are lifted. The reader hopes against hope that Lewueri will be able to live a normal life by growing his livestock numbers and hopefully marrying the love of his life and establishing a family of his own.

The story provides a sneak preview into the lives of communities, their ways of life and how they manage mundane day to day activities. In the backdrop, the reader discerns the strengths and weaknesses of such communal interactions and is able to appreciate the context within which Lewueri is able to thrive. The story is a true presentation of how one’s courage can truly be tested during one’s lifetime. 

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