A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour

November 2015
1 black and white, 2 line illustrations
233 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
African Articulations
ISBN: 9781847011275
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
James Currey
BISAC LIT004010, TRU002000, SOC032000

A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour

Kenya, Britain and the Julie Ward Murder

Grace A. Musila

Re-examines this unresolved murder in Kenya and the underlying role of rumour, the media and inter-state relations on how the death has been reported and investigated.
Julie Ann Ward was a British tourist and wildlife photographer who went missing in Kenya's Maasai Mara Game Reserve in 1988 and was eventually found to have been murdered. Her death and the protracted search for her killers, still at large, were hotly contested in the media. Many theories emerged as to how and why she died, generating three trials, several "true crime" books, and much speculation and rumour.

At the core of Musila's study are the following questions: why would this young woman's death be the subject of such strong contestations of ideas and multiple truths? And what does this reveal about cultural productions of truth and knowledge in Kenya and Britain, particularly in the light of the responses to her disappearance of the Kenyan police, the British Foreign Office, and the British High Commission in Nairobi.

Building on existing scholarship on African history, narrative, gender and postcolonial studies, the author reveals how the Julie Ward murder and its attendant discourses offer insights into the journeys of ideas, and how these traverse the porous boundaries of the relationship between Kenya and Britain, and, by extension, Africa and the Global North.

Grace A. Musila is a lecturer in the English Department of Stellenbosch University, South Africa

An e-book version of this title is available (9781782045908), to libraries through a number of trusted suppliers. See here for a full list of our partners.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Versions of Truth
Portrait of an Assassin State
Sex, Gender and the 'Criminal' State
Julie Ward's Death and the Kenyan Grapevine
Wildebeest, 'Noble Savages' and Moi's Kenya: Cultural Illiteracies in the Search for Julie Ward's Killers
Farms in Africa: Wildlife Tourism, Conservation and Whiteness in Postcolonial Africa
Faultlines in the Official British Response to the Julie Ward Mystery
Engaging Modernity
Afterword by Stephanie Newell


A sensitive, sophisticated and subtle work...readers interested in modern African politics, the legacies of colonialism or the ethics of development will benefit greatly from Musila's insights. RED PEPPER

Feminism and gender studies, history, international studies, African studies and literature, sociology and creative writing programmes would be among the priority home disciplines for this book. JOHANNESBURG REVIEW OF BOOKS

What Musila does with the questions that she takes up is brilliant. This is a smart book-smart in its interconnectivity, in its insights, and in the voracious mind behind it. A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour should be assigned to upper-level classes in African studies and cultural studies. Scholars might know some of this already, but we have never seen it put together just this way. AFRICAN STUDIES REVIEW

Grace Musila has managed to produce what must be termed an academic thriller. . . . [Her] text is an achievement - a study in the postcolonial hangovers and political ruthlessness besetting Kenya and countries like it that also exposes the lingering racism and greed of British involvement. SAFUNDI

A mix of erudite critical analysis of the range of stories that emerged from the death of Julie Ward; examining the conduct and narratives of officialdom, the pain and search efforts of Julie's father; the seeming unwillingness of the Kenyan state to fully support Mr Ward's quest for truth and justice, as well as the British government's not-too-convincing involvement, among others. DAILY NATION

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