Portrays several characters in a village whose intertwined lives are transformed by the 1952-1960 Emergency in Kenya. As the action follows the village's arrangements for Uhuru (independence) Day. This is a novel of stories within stories, a narrative interwoven with myth as well as allusions to real-life leaders of the nationalist struggle, including Jomo Kenyatta. At the centre of it all is the reticent Mugo, the village's chosen hero and a man haunted by a terrible secret. As events unfold, compromises are forced, friendships are betrayed and loves are tested.