This essay – composed to honor Of Revelation and Revolution on its twentieth anniversary – argues that conversion was a means by which hegemonic cultural discourses were rendered subject to examination. The focus is on the East African Revival, a Christian conversion movement that began in Rwanda and spread throughout east Africa over the course of the 1940s and 50s. Following the directions given in Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, revivalists sorted through cultural property, identified their sins, and set themselves in motion toward another world. Their path set them at a tangent from the dialectics of the colonial encounter. In the study of the Revival we can see conversion as a political action that unsettles the alignments of colonial culture.
Henry Muoria (1914-97), self-taught journalist and pamphleteer, helped to inspire Kenya's nationalisms before Mau Mau. The pamphlets reproduced here, in Gikuyu and English, contrast his own originality with the conservatism of Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya's first President. The contributing editors introduce Muoria's political context, tell how three remarkable women sustained his families' life; and remember him as father. Courageous intellectual, political, and domestic life here intertwine.