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Charity Waciuma
Born
Charity Wanjiku Waciuma

1936 (age 85–86)
Nationality Kenyan
Occupation Writer
Notable work
Daughter of Mumbi

Charity Waciuma (born 1936) is a Kenyan writer, who wrote several novels for adolescents and an autobiographical novel, Daughter of Mumbi (1969). Her work draws on Kikuyu legends and storytelling traditions. In the 1960s Waciuma and Grace Ogot became the first Kenyan women writers to be published in English.

Biography

Charity Wanjiku Waciuma grew up in pre-Independence Kenya, during the violent anti-colonial struggle between the Mau-Mau and British rulers. In accordance with Kikuyu naming traditions she was given her father's younger sister's name Wanjiku ("the gossip"), her last name Waciuma, meaning "beads", being a nickname of her grandmother’s father "because he had as many goats as beads in a necklace".

She became one of Kenya's pioneering writers for children with the publication in 1966 of her first book Mweru, the Ostrich Girl, which was followed by her other titles for young adults: The Golden Feather, Merry Making, and Who's Calling?. Her autobiographical work Daughter of Mumbi, published in 1969, tells of the tensions felt by an adolescent who was torn between her allegiance to traditional identities (Mumbi was the mythical female founder of the Kikuyu) and a father who sees his support for British colonial rule as an allegiance to modernity. The book is dedicated to Waciuma's father, who was killed during the Mau Mau Emergency.

Waciuma is included in the 1992 anthology Daughters of Africa, edited by Margaret Busby.

Works

  • Mweru, the Ostrich Girl (Nairobi: East African Publishing House, 1966)
  • The Golden Feather (Nairobi: East African Publishing House, 1966)
  • Daughter of Mumbi (Nairobi: Jacques Compton, 1969)
  • Merry-Making (Nairobi: East African Publishing House, 1972)
  • Who's Calling? (Nairobi: East African Publishing House, 1973)
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