Book Review: Different Colours by Nga’nga Mbugua

About the book (Goodreads) 

Miguel is an immensely talented artist on the verge of making it into the big league. His life is uneventful until his friend, Billy, challenges him to immortalise, on canvas, a mysteriously magnificent waterfall on the Orange River in the serene Banana County. However, his mission becomes a roller coaster expedition filled with love, suspicion, greed, sharing, healing and reconciliation. Will he marshal the forces of good to triumph over evil? And ultimately, will he- an immigrant- find acceptance? 



Title: Different Colours

Author: Ng’ang’a Mbugua

Category: Fiction

I had mentioned earlier on about this book but I’ve been quite held up to write a review of it. Lest I get overly attached to the new characters of my current read, how about giving my two cents at how incredible this read is.

Different Colours by Ng’ang’a Mbugua is a story set in Kenya, Banana county. The book narrates the story of Miguel, the protagonist, an artist who travels from the Rift Valley region to Banana County to the waterfall found in that region following the constant praise his best friend Billy Joe always described it with to him. Billy Joe would always be heard saying to Miguel, that the waterfall ‘shone like silver in the morning and like gold in the light of the setting sun.’ Driven by curiosity, Miguel woke up one day and decided to travel to Banana County to confirm his friends words and transfer the view of the spectacular waterfall on canvas.

His journey was a long one coupled with misfortunes that led him to Poromoko Inn where he met Angela (who’ll later become his landlady), Juliana (the owner of the Inn) and John who doubled up as a waiter and a chef at the Inn. While talking to John, Miguel learnt that Billy Joe’s house was demolished. This was where he had planned to stay while painting the waterfall. Looking for an alternative, Angela offered to rent out one of her rooms to Miguel with hope that the rent money will enable her purchase materials and tools for her son, Tom Tenge who had developed an interest in sculpting.

Miguel accepted the offer and promised to leave once he accomplished his mission of painting the waterfall. What they weren’t prepared for though is the fact that this move would spark rumors in the entire village. But this didn’t deter Miguel’s desire. Once he got to visit the waterfall, Miguel indeed confirmed Billy Joe’s description and immediately fell in love with it.

The local area people had a lot to tell about the waterfall. This was the place that people; committed suicide, carried out their church services, young men got initiated to adulthood and some were courted here which lead to marriage. ‘It is a good place to die,’ Miguel teased Tom Tenge who had offered to give him his first tour. It’s on that particular day that Miguel learnt of Sister Gloria who committed suicide following Kim’s betrayal. It is sad story coupled with pain that had Miguel agitated and angry.

During one of his visits to the waterfall, Miguel unearthed Dick Teita’s illegal quarrying project which posed a great danger to the people of Banana County owing to the fact that it was the main source of water to the villagers and a one-stop tourists attraction site. Driven by anger, Miguel confronted Vu Tabangi and his gang and was scared off only to meet the mastermind, Dick Teita and share his concerns not knowing he was talking to the wrong person. Dick Teita tried to undermine Miguel, but Miguel didn’t back out his mission of getting the other villagers to oppose the illegal project.

This event led to the revealing of some unpalatable dark secrets of Dick Teita who had been the cause to Martin Tenge’s, (Angela’s husband) death. The man who had been crowned the wealthiest man in the County turned out to be most selfish and self-centered man who would stop at nothing in making sure that he got what he wanted even if it meant killing someone. He was arrested and faced death penalty.

The book has a happy ending though, Miguel and Angela fell in love and Billy Joe’s love with Juliana is rekindled.

I found this book interesting for a Literature/ English class because of how easy it has been written and the wealth of vocabulary it comes with. The dictation at which Ng’ang’a Mbugua has written this book is to die for! I loved the way he played with the characters names which have been borrowed from Swahili; Dick Teita (Dictator), Vu Tabangi (Weed Smoker)

I related it with how the wealthy people in the Kenyan society acquire their wealth using forcefull and illegal means. Sad enough, most of these people sit in the government and hold the most influential offices in the society. Should they smell threat, they always go out of their way in making sure that the people who are about to expose them are silenced. And by by silenced I mean killed.

I was so thrilled to have read another book from my motherland since most of the African literature books in my collection have been set either in South Africa or West Africa. I felt challenged to start buying diverse books from other African regions i.e  East, North or Central Africa. Now I need to have a solid relationship with my bank account lol.

If you are looking forward to build on your vocabulary amidst reading an easy enjoyable book, I highly recommend you try out Different Colours. It’s worth your time.

Have a lovely weekend.




3 thoughts on “Book Review: Different Colours by Nga’nga Mbugua”

    1. Hey Diana. The names of the characters have been derived from Swahili eg Vu Tabangi (vuta bangi) – smoke weed. Make sure you get a copy you’ll fall in love with the vocabulary. ION congrats in your book publication. Will you be blogging about it? Might you know where I can get a copy? I’m looking forward to read it after seeing the title. Looks like it’s a great read!


  1. What a heart-pondering novel!I just fell in love with it at the first sentence.Miguel,the protagonist of the entire novel,is such a brilliant artist.He has a great desire to explore and of course put on the canvas the might and magnificent waterfall described to him by Billy Joe. In addition, Miguel comes to awaken the ignorance of the residents of Banana County.It is unfortunate that they are not aware that their only treasure (the waterfall) is at the verge of destruction. In fact it is a kind of a novel that you can read at one sitting….


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