Kid Moses (Tanzania)

book cover

by Mark R. Thornton

9-year-old Moses lives on the streets of Dar, as he calls Dar es Salaam. When he and his friend Kioso hop in the back of a lorry one day, he hopes it will take them away from the poverty and danger of their lives in the big city.

Moses’ father came from a farm in the countryside for “the good life” and always wanted to move back. When he was killed, Moses’ mother ran away.

Now Moses is on his own, with only his wits to support him. He dreams of riding a bicycle beside lush green crops, of having enough to eat and clean clothes. But adventuring through the bush as he and Kioso set off to do is dangerous. There are snakes. There are men who are a little too friendly. There is nothing to eat, and no stalls to steal from.

Good Writing Makes for Quick Reading

Dar es Salaam
Dar es Salaam

“Moses thought of their options. Jump out now or stay longer? They were scared of being discovered and scared of the men. Boys like Moses and Kioso didn’t like men or trust them either. To boys like Moses and Kioso, men only meant getting yelled at and kicked and beaten.

“There were a few decent men at the harbor, mainly the old ones, who were just too old to be trouble. The phantoms who just minded their own business and hobbled along the streets, waiting for their day to die…”

truck in DarThis novel is well-paced: the writing is spare, lean, and brilliant. The author has captured the feel of a 9-year-old’s narration: his aimlessness, his lack of foresight, his inability to understand abstraction. I might have hoped for a stronger resolution in the end, but perhaps this was more realistic.

Rating: Two thumbs up: the hitch-hiking ones.

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