I’m a hopeless romantic, but I missed the gist of Kinyanjui Kombani’s love story until my second read. Maybe it’s because the first time I heard about the book was from an article that suggested the book was a prediction of the election violence of 2007/8, which meant that I was looking for the politics rather than enjoying the story. I hope I’m not going to spoil it for potential readers of the book as well.
The Last Villains of Molo follows the lives of five young men, Bone, Bomu, Bafu, Ngeta and Rock, who were brought together by the Molo clashes of 1992. They forge a tight friendship that transcends the ethnic identities for which the people around them are killing each other. Once they move to the city, they live in the Ngando slums and basically live a life of hustling. That’s until a beautiful rich lady called Nancy shows up.
Nancy’s love relationship with Bone is accompanied by a series of dramatic events, until the end when we discover that the painful past in Molo had brought them together. But love and sanity prevail over the hatred that was politically engineered. In previous discussions of the book, readers felt that the end was too idealistic. However, on one occasion when the author visited us, he answered the usual Kenyan question of “what can be done?” by saying that love is the answer. I was skeptical at the time, but later it made sense. It is love that humanizes the five young men when Nancy enters their lives. It is love that stops the cycle of revenge.
The other genius of this book is the use of nicknames which keep the reader away from being conscious of the characters’ ethnic identities. To this day, I’ve not been able to match the real names with the nicknames of the young men. I think I want to keep it that way.