Home Between Crossings, however, is more than just a family saga in the classic tradition ... It is also an epic, albeit a fictional, account of a people`s passage across the oceans through time and space – that of the Khojas. But although it presents their perspective – and Somjee writes as an Ismaili insider - it is also representative of other Asians in Kenya (and East Africa generally) during the time-scale in question. The people in the other communities could relate to everything that happened to the Devji family because they too went through parallel experiences at all levels and in more or less the same way.
Above all, Home Between Crossings is not just a work of fiction, it is a personification of Kenya`s history of the twentieth century. Somjee has undoubtedly used his first-hand lived experience to chart every significant turning point in the march of the country from colony to republic. Nothing remains untouched. Together with Bead Bai, he has created a literary masterpiece that will also serve as a historical record of our time, of particular interest to those of us in the diaspora who share his Kenyan background, and one that will benefit future generations of scholars as well. I was privileged to read the manuscript online and must say the published version is an impressive document.
RAMNIK SHAH (c) 2017http://opinionmagazine.co.uk/details/2450/review-of-home-between-crossings
“My story runs like the Nile. Many rivers flow into the Nile from many directions and change its waters like how my story changes when other stories merge into it, and keep moving all together” (p. 598).
Such is the continuing story of Sakina, known as Moti Bai, in Sultan Somjee’s Home Between Crossings, a sequel to his first enchanting novel, Bead Bai. The books trace the life of an Ismaili girl, then woman, living in Kenya before and during the tumultuous years of transition from British rule to independence under Kenyatta.
Somjee blends a gentle narrative with biting political and social commentary in this second novel - a style much more daring and adventurous than that in the story of Moti Bai’s upbringing in the first novel. His poetic style mesmerizes readers as we learn about the cultural and religious life of Ismaili families of Indian origin in East Africa. When we are with Moti Bai in her personal life, she tells us, in her voice, of her struggles to reconcile the many contradictions she witnesses and experiences.
|Author Sultan Somjee [inset]. 'Kangas' drying on a washing line [center] in Paje, Zanzibar, Tanzania. Woman in 'Kanga' [right]from Siyu township on the Pate Island in Kenya. WIKIPEDIA PHOTOS|
|'Home Between Crossings' highlights 'Kanga' magic in East Africa|
|Reading ‘Home Between Crossings’, former Kenyan journalist Cyprian Fernandes* writes that he "was simply blown away" by Sultan Somjee’s second book.It is not only a veritable treasure trove of Asian history, including the 'mass exodus' of 1968, but also a vault full of hypnotic literary gems, among them is the humble looking African cloth called the 'Kanga'.The kanga is the Swahili wrap-around that displays not only wisdom in one line sayings but also memories.|
Title:Home Between Crossings
Author: Sultan Somjee (Author of Bead Bai 2012)
Publisher: CreateSpace (December, 2016)
Reviewer: Cyprian Fernandes
Though Asians had started leaving Kenya in small numbers since 1960, the floodgates opened in 1968 to beat the immigration deadline to enter the United Kingdom.Now a new book that chronicles in the minutest of details one family’s painful journey out of its homeland, Kenya.
Although a work of fiction, Home Between Crossings, touches on real life stories of many Asian families during the rise of African nationalism that suddenly shifted from anti-white to anti-Asian. Heart wrenching decisions led to emigration of the ‘Paper Citizens’, and virtual expulsion from their birthland. The story is told as a Khoja tale but speaks for the Asian experience through Kenyan Asian eyes.
This is another classic by the Kenyan ethnographer and writer, Sultan Somjee. It is a work of dedication and attention to detail on vibrancy of the changes that occur in 1950s and 1960s. His character, Moti Bai, suffers the pains, the joys and the disappointments of cultural changes within the Ismaili Khoja community in mid 1950s while in the country another force was stirring changes in the mighty British Empire – the Mau Mau.