God of Hunger
God of Hunger takes its title from the street name of Tanganyika’s First
Minister and Tanzania’s first President, Julius Nyerere: Mungu wa Nja. The
father of the nation, who is justly lauded for creating unity out of a variegated
tribal polity, but was responsible for the gross impoverishment of his country.
The book may be read as a string of ancient Anatolian stone worry beads
twirled in remembrance of the dead; souls alleviating God’s hunger. The stones
are inscribed with names as they appear in chapter headings. As characters, all
are drawn from lithomancy.
The beads are strung onto Tanganyika; the thread that binds them together.
Having been superseded in 1964 by Tanzania, the country of the book belongs
entirely to mythology.
Tanganyika emerged out of German East Africa in 1918 after the defeat of the
It was the Germans who invited the Greeks to their colony to work on the
railways inland from Dar-Es-Salaam, on the Indian Ocean, to Mwanza on Lake
Victoria and Kigoma on Lake Tanganyika, retracing the slave route from Ujiji,
where Stanley found Livingston, to the coast. Whence again, from Tanga, to
Moshi beside Kilimanjaro and Arusha beneath Mount Meru.
Greeks, as foremen, were employed on the French construction of the Suez
Canal and after its completion in 1869, transferred their skills to the building of
Germany’s colonial railways. They were later offered land and settled in
Tanganyika to make their living in growing coffee at altitude, or sisal on coastal
In 1921, when Ataturk, in the course of creating modern Turkey, defeated
Greek forces intent on resurrecting Byzantium, many exiles from Anatolia
joined their kinsmen in Tanganyika, a Mandated Territory under British
To this entity were sent, in 1942, Poles; mainly women and children, the
remnants of a massive forced exodus, in 1940, from Eastern Poland which was
occupied by the Red Army under the terms of the Secret Protocol of the Nazi
Soviet Pact of August 1939.
A census taken in Tanganyika ten years later, revealed that Greeks and Poles
made up the majority of its European population, then at its height, when life
for most was as good as it was going to get; Tanganyika resembled a ship
sailing erratically on oceans of history while its passengers believed that the
captain had a true bearing on their destination. Under the tropical sun a few