Title: Ghost and the Fortune Hunters
Author: Goro wa Kamau
Genre: Young Adults
Ghosts and the Fortune Hunters by Goro wa Kamau is a riveting read that won the Text Book Center Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature 2017, Young Adult category. The main character is Kaboci, an assiduous boy born with albinism, a rare congenital condition caused by the absence of the pigment in the skin. This poignant book highlights brutal practices, superstition, and discrimination and still brings hope to humanity. The writer had a burgeoning teenager in mind who is trying to come to grip with the person they are. It can be infuriating but the book motivates the youth that they can rise above the labels.
When Kaboci was born, her mother was incredulous and panicky that she asked the nurses to take him from her sight for two days. His father, Kibet, upon setting his eyes on the poor boy, went berserk, accused his wife of cheating with a white and later claimed that was a curse. Kibet deserted his family. It was after the doctor’s explanation that Kaboci’s mother came to terms with the disorder.
Her mother loved him regardless. Her constant reassurance pushed his swing, and he was always the best student in his class. He was also disciplined both in school and at home and rarely did he cross paths with anyone. The students gave him the sobriquet “Ghost boy.” Like most teenagers, Kaboci had a secret lover, Virginia who was his classmate. This affair sprouts hatred between Kaboci and Jomo, the bully who thinks he can make a better inamorato to Virginia than the Ghost boy.
In a neighbouring country, Tanzania, the body parts of an albino are highly valued. They are murdered, dismembered and used to make talismans by witchdoctors who then sell them to the superstitious individuals looking for luck. Kaboci’s life is in danger. He is abducted on his way to school by three avaricious men who want to make a fortune at the expense of the innocent child.
Kaboci is injected with a drug and put in a coffin. On arrival in Tanzania, as the three men are negotiating with their client, Kaboci regains his consciousness and runs away. It turns out that the lady posing as the client was a police officer and the cruel men were arrested. Kaboci is rescued by empathetic villagers and later taken to court. Kaboci narrates his dreadful ordeal amidst a court room filled with albinos. It is here that he learns the bitter truth that his father was one of the three abductors.