Burn My Heart

Friends can be enemies and enemies can be friends


Mugo and Mathew, two best friends when they were younger, suffer when their worlds are torn apart. These friends were turned against each other because of the Mau Mau Rebellion. In the book Burn My Heart by Beverly Naidoo, Mugo and his parents have always lived in the poor parts of Kenya, while Matthew and his parents owned their own land.

Two Boys that have been friends for a long time go through an uneasy friendship. Matthew and Mugo lived in Kenya during the 1950s. The only problem was one was white and one was black. Mugo’s parents weren’t as wealthy as Matthew’s. Mathew's parents owned their owned land. While Kenya was struggling for freedom, the Kenyans created a secret society and started a rebellion called Mau Mau which threatened British settlers with violence. This causes Mugo to have to make war with his best friend Matthew.

One morning when Mugo woke up he saw fire everywhere. He could not find many of his family members, and his mom and his dad were being held in a detention camp. Mugo had tried and tried to help his animals escape the fire and he thought that Matthew had betrayed him until he came over to help. Mugo knew they had lost as guards on a jeep came over and picked him up to bring him to jail. As he was leaving he had to say his last goodbyes to Matthew and he knew that was the last time he would see him. As he rode away he also realized that was the last time he was going to see his home.

Character Traits

The Boy With The Big Heart

Courage is defined as the ability to do something that frightens someone. In the book Burn My Heart by Beverly Naidoo, the main character Mugo had to have courage or his life would have turned out differently. When Mugo was younger he was best friends with Matthew, but as they got older they were separated based on the color of their skin. Now since they had to leave each other, they are going through something that will tear them apart.

”‘We want to enter,” said Baba. “This is my son and we have come to visit my sister.” “Where are your papers?” The guards outstretched palm shimmered with sweat."

This quote stood out to me when Baba and Mugo had courage to yell at the guards just to save their family.

Mugo and Matthew had been friends for a long time when they were younger. They had to split up because they had to live in different areas. When these towns were fighting they started to not be friends. By the end of the story, they had courage to help each other even though they were at war against each other.

Turning Points

Spotlight on History

During the 1950s the Mau Mau rebellion took place in Kenya, Africa. The British came to Kenya and made the people of Kenya angry by stealing their land. On page 59, this quote supports how the Mau Mau people felt.

“Sorrow and trouble came,

Yes, sorrow and trouble.

When we accepted the wazungu,

They stole our land.”

During this disaster known as the Emergency, the British set up several detention camps. Any Kenyan people that were suspected or thought to be a part of the rebellion were sent to these horrible detention camps. On page 178, this quote shows how the British treated the people in the detention camps.

“Where’s he going?” Mugo cried.
“Detention?” Mugo whispered in horror. Detention camps were the same as

prison! There were stories of starvation, beatings, and worse. It was said a person might disappear forever there.

Many people suffered during this terrible Emergency and their lives were changed. The people believed the British did not respect them as people. Their hopes and dreams were crushed and they felt hopeless. On page 193, this quote gives an example of when the British treated them poorly.

Gitau was right. Wazungu don't care when we suffer. We are insects to them. H thought of Baba’s legs dragging on the ground and winced. Baba could be lying on the floor of a truck like Mama Mercy, not even seeing where he was being taken. Baba had had a dream. His children would go to school and learn the wazungu’s knowledge! They would learn how to get back their land! Wazungu would learn to respect them. “They are people and we are people.” Where was Baba’s dream now? Must his family be ants forever?”