Written by

Richard Oduor Oduku


14th August 2023






Sisi Afrika Books

Slave, Interpreter & Commissioner General: An Authorized Biography of Edgar Manasseh, The First KRA Commissioner-General

200 years ago, a 12-year old boy was trapped by slave catchers, chained, and forced on a four-month trek from the shores of Lake Malawi to Kilwa and loaded on slave ships as cargo for the bustling slave markets of Zanzibar. The ship carrying Songoro did not reach Zanzibar. It was intercepted in the high seas by the British Navy, and the freed slaves settled in Frere Town in Mombasa, Kenya.

This is a story of four generations — the descendants of Songoro the freed slave, his son Noah whose fortunes in the colonial government carved a path of family progress, and the modern hero, a great-grandson: Edgar Manasseh, who scaled uncertain paths to become the first Commissioner-General, Kenya Revenue Authority.

It is a marvel of triumph over adversity on the backdrop of historical transitions, from slave trade in pre-colonial East African coast to the turbulence of colonial rule, from the complexities of independence struggles to the bittersweet fortunes of a modernizing