Founding faculty launches novel that reimagines the Rise and Fall of Colonialism in Africa.

Founding faculty launches novel that reimagines the Rise and Fall of Colonialism in Africa.

IN GOOD COMPANY: Novelist and GSMC faculty, Dr Peter Kimani, signs an autograph during the launch his new novel, Dance of the Jakaranda, at the Graduate School of Media and Communications, Aga Khan University in Nairobi.


Dr Peter Kimani, a founding faculty member, Aga Khan Graduate School of Media and Communication (AKU-GSMC) launched his third novel titled, ‘Dance of the Jacaranda’ on Thursday, 30th March 2017 at AKU-GSMC’s campus in Nairobi, Kenya.

The novel, a New York Times Editors’ Choice, explores the building of the railroad by the British in Kenya at the turn of the 20th century. Dr Kimani says his motivation for writing Dance of the Jakaranda was to reclaim Kenya’s history. “Quite a bit of what’s studied in school is colonial history – told from the perspective of our former colonial masters—with all its prejudice. My book offers another viewpoint, a ‘decolonised’ perspective.”

Dr. Peter Kimani is a founding faculty member of the Graduate School of Media and Communications and holds a doctorate in creative writing and literature from the University of Houston. He previously worked on Kenya’s vibrant national press, rising to senior editor at The Standard. He also ran a weekly satirical column for 10 years, first in the Daily Nation and later The Standard. His work has also appeared in The Guardian, The New African, and Sky News, among others.

His previous work include Before The Rooster Crows and Upside Down, for which he was awarded Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature in 2011. He was one of only three international poets commissioned by National Public Radio to compose and present a poem to mark Barack Obama’s inauguration in January 2009.




“This funny, perceptive and ambitious work of historical fiction by a Kenyan poet and novelist explores his country’s colonial past and its legacy through the stories of three men involved with the building of a railroad linking Lake Victoria and the Indian Ocean–what the Kikuyu called the ‘Iron Snake’ and the British called the ‘Lunatic Express.”

New York Times Book Review, Editors’ Choice


“Kimani has done a game job managing the carpentry of this ambitious novel, bringing great skill to the task of deploying multiple story lines, huge leaps back and forth in time and the withholding and distribution of information…Once Kimani has his plotlines all set, his writing relaxes, and it’s here that you can see his raw talent…I have never read a novel about [Kenya] that’s so funny, so perceptive, so subversive and so sly.”
Fiammetta Rocco

New York Times Book Review


“In this racially charged dance of power, the railroad into the interior of a country becomes a journey into the hearts of men and women. It is a dance of love and hate and mixed motives that drive human actions and alter the course of history. Kimani’s writing has the clarity of analytic prose and the lyrical tenderness of poetry.”

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o


 “This is what a brilliant novel looks like. Kimani is a rare talent, an important new literary voice in Kenya, in Africa, and the world.”

Mat Johnson


“Destined to become one of the greats…This is not hyperbole: it’s a masterpiece.”

The Gazette


“A multi-racial nation-building tale that begins during the construction of the railway from Mombasa to Nairobi. There are three men at its heart: two white, a British administrator known as ‘Master’ and an Anglican minister; one brown, an Indian technician who sires a female child, a birth that will reverberate down through the years.”

Toronto Star


“A fascinating part of Kenya’s history, real and imagined, is revealed and reclaimed by one of its own.”

Minneapolis Star Tribune


“The novel has way more strengths than I can describe here, including the beauty of lyrical narration that combines irony, flashback, humour, allusions and inter-textual references, all of which are expertly manipulated to give the reader a gem of a story populated by composite characters, a story that, though revisiting old themes and times, does so with the freshness that one would expect of established literary geniuses.”

Daily Nation


“The author has built here not only, on these pages, not only a railroad, but the singular triumph of a highly diverting novel. Besides weaving an excellent plot-line, he offers the reader a classic, understated writing style that haunts much of this book, turns it into a minor masterpiece.”

RALPH Magazine, Starred review


Dr Kimani will be on a book tour in the United States, starting mid-April. He will give readings in select in universities and festivals. He is a featured writer at:

  • Los Angeles Times Festival of Books – the largest public book event in the US.
  • PEN World Voices festival in New York
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Bocas Lit festival in Trinidad & Tobago

Dance of the Jakaranda is available at Prestige Bookshop on Mama Ngina Street and The Magunga online Bookstore. Kindle and audio book, narrated by the renowned Kenyan broadcaster, playwright and actor, John Sibi Okumu are available at Amazon.