THIS TIME TOMORROW
By NGUGI WA THIONG’O
About the Author
T H I S T I M E T O M O R R O W
SETTING: KENYA AFTER INDEPENDENCE-
UHURU MARKET IN NAIROBI CITY.
The whole play is organised in only one act. The scene breaks by the conversation between a journalist and the editor who are typing an article. The journalist finishes typing and re-reads it. He explains how the whole incident took place, where the city council warriors demolished slums at the shanty-town near the country Bus Terminus. The place is usually a busy place but on that day nobody was seen. This was a Clean –The City Campaign.
* * * *
We are told of Njango’s shelter made of Cardboard and rotting tins. Njango and Wanjiro share the floor as a bed just beside the small wall. Njango tries to wake up Wanjiro who is still snoring so that she may help her with the morning chores. She has to prepare the soup for the morning customers like Githua, Macharia, Gitina and others. Wanjiro wakes up and tells her mother the dream she had. She had seen in her dream the shacks being carried away by the floods.
Wanjiro begins sweeping and wonders why the city is so quite. She expresses how she is tired of the familiar scenes and sounds around. She says that she never saw these things before she heard the stranger speak. She remembers Asinjo the man she loves and wonders why her mother drove him away.
* * * *
The journalist continues with his narration as people begin waking up. He was recording his news. Wanjiro says that the village is waking up but the birds are hardly awake. That statement annoys her mother. She speaks to Wanjiro in a serious tone that birds do not have to kill themselves in order to live, they don’t need money to buy food, they don’t buy clothes neither do they pay school fees. Wanjiro is also annoyed by her mother’s statement since she (Wanjiro) does not have good clothes neither does she go to school. She considers her mother’s words as a mockery to her since her brother was taken to school but she was not. Additionally she is angry due to the fact that she is not given good clothes like other girls around to the point that she is ashamed to walk in the streets.
Njango is annoyed even more and wonders why Wanjiro talks to her in such a manner. She reminds her how she had trouble rising her up. Wanjiro calms down and wishes she had better gone away with Asinjo. Njango warns her that a man from another tribe cannot protect her. She also warns her not to trust men from the city because they mistreat their mistresses even kill them. Wanjiro wished Asinjo would come for her. Njango threatens her never to mention him again- a man from another tribe.
Wanjiro describes how she wishes to have nice dresses like the one she saw in the city and almost stole it. She says that the stranger had told them that the city belongs to them; the shops, the factories and everything. Her mother says it’s only for a chosen few. They talk of how the stranger had led the delegation to the city Council, since they were given only few days to move away. She wonders why her mother would call such a man as a cheat and a loafer.
Wanjiro asks her mother whether they are going to pull down their house but Njango says that she is not going to move. Njango tells Wanjiro not to talk about the stranger because her father used to talk like that and it cost him his life. They were captured and he was shot dead by the Whiteman.
The journalist continues his narrative that as the day broke people began engaging in their daily activities. Tinsmiths beating their tins, and the buses vomited a lot of people. He followed them and joined the populace for a cup of soup. Shortly the customers were at Njango’s hut for soup. As usual she keeps on shouting calling more customers while others are already taking their soup. Inspector Kiongo enters speaking from a loudspeaker telling the people who dwell in Uhuru Market that a month given to them is over and by 12:00 that day all the shacks had to be demolished.
The journalist comes in and takes some photos and begins to interview people to get their views on the story. The tinsmith explains how he had had hard time making a living before and after independence. Njango complains why Kiongo has changed while he used to be her good customer but now he sees himself as a king. The journalist interviews the shoemaker who also complains on how they have been betrayed because he was also an active member of the Party and they fought for freedom having taken an oath and sung patriotic songs.
“Even if they deride me, and beat me and kill me,
“They shall never make me forget
“This is a black man’s country.
He was even sent to Manyani concentration camp and came back home after the emergency but no jobs and no land for him. After a brief chat they decide to hold a meeting with the stranger who is believed to have magic power to blind the eyes of the City Council Members. They all leave but Wanjiro is left alone. In her opinion she would like the stranger not to work his magic so that they can move from those slums. She remembers Asinjo who she says is the only man who told her she was beautiful and used to touch her breasts.
Suddenly Asinjo comes and Wanjiro welcomes him warmly. He gives out a 10/= shillings note and she is so surprised and impressed. He says that he is no longer without a job; he is now a taxi-driver. He complains on how Njango used to mistreat him just because he was jobless and from another tribe. He invites Wanjiro to go and live with him in Old Jerusalem where he has got a house. He promises her also to buy her nice dresses and shoes. She asks him to hold on until her mother comes back.
* * * * * * * *
The crowd enters with posters and the stranger addresses them. He says that Uhuru has brought the people who love driving Mercedes Benz and long American cars while the majority starve in the slums. He also tells them that he cannot work magic as they expect. He says the only magic that can work for them is unity. The police appear and all the people run away while the stranger unsuccessfully tries to call them back. The police arrest the stranger for inciting a crowd to violence and civil disobedience. Njango comes back with the memory of her own husband as the sight of the stranger reminded her how her husband was arrested.
Kiongo announces that people must hurry up taking their things from their houses. Wanjiro reports to her mother that she wants to go away with Asinjo but her mother refuses that she cannot marry a man from another tribe and without a job. Wanjiro assures her mother that Asinjo is different, he now has a job and a house and tells her mother that she is old and doesn’t know the ways of the world and the needs of a young woman. She says goodbye to her mother and leaves. Njango is left desperate and Kiongo tells her to hurry up and leave. Njango’s final words are “They are herding us out like cattle. Where shall I go now, tonight? Where shall I be this time tomorrow? If only we had stood up against them! If only we could stand together.” Pg56
Ø She is a Tribalist. Njango is a tribalist because she is against inter-tribal marriages. She is still conservative and does not want to welcome changes. When Wanjiro says that she is going away to live with Asinjo, She says to Wanjiro; “With that man? A man from another tribe?”pg 55
Ø She is a poor slum dweller. She is among the poor people who are dwelling in the slums at Uhuru market. She sleeps on the floor with her daughter.
Ø She is a Widow. We are told that her husband was captured and shot like a dog by the Whiteman.
Ø She is a Hot-tempered and strict mother. She often treats Wanjiro harshly. E.g. in page 37 she says “Other girls rise up before the sun to help with morning chores. This one snores like a pig. I will truly pinch your fat nose or drench your face with cold water”.Also she threatens Wanjiro every time she mentions Asinjo. E.g. in page 56 she says “No child of mine, from my own flesh, will sell her body. I’ll break her bones, else she break mine first”.
Ø She is a Petty businesswoman. She earns a living by selling soup to slum dwellers. As one of her customers comments, “Give me another mug of soup. You got to be taught to live in this market city”. Pg 45
Ø She is a Hardworking mother. She wakes up early in the morning daily and prepares the soup to sell to the morning customers.
Ø She is a Traditionalist. This can be proved from the way she denies Wanjiro to marry a man from another tribe, she believes that a man from a different tribe cannot protect her daughter. Also she sent her son to his uncle to attend school but retained Wanjiro because she is a girl. This is an outdated tradition.
Ø She is lazy and stubborn. Unlike other girls who wake up early to help their mothers, Wanjiro is so lazy and always stubborn to her mother. She likes good life but doesn’t want to work hard. Njango complains “What a heavy load of flesh, this brat will surely kill me. Other girls rise up before the sun to help with morning chores. This one snores like a pig”.
Ø She is so inquisitive. She asks her mother many questions for knowledge to a point where Njago is annoyed. In page 43 Njago exclaims “You never give me a moment’s peace, do you? What do you want to ask? Not about your city Council I hope?”
Ø She is an avid admirer of western lifestyle. She admires living like Europeans. She wants to marry Asinjo so that she may go to live European-like life in the city. She says “I long for the pleasures of this glittering city. I want a frock. And shoes – high heels – so that I can walk like a European lady. A bag hanging from my left elbow – fingering a cigarette in my right hand.” pg 52
Ø She has true love. Despite the threats and warning from her mother that she should stay away from Asinjo because she cannot marry a man from another tribe, she eloped with Asinjo nevertheless. For her what matters is love and not tribes.
Ø She runs away from problems. Wanjiro believes that running away from problems is a way of solving them. She runs away with Asinjo as a way of avoiding the poor condition at home. She says to her mother “I am going with him! You are old. You don’t know the ways of the world or the needs of a young woman” pg 55
Ø She is less obedient to her mother. Wanjiro is not obedient to her mother as she likes arguing with her. She doesn’t listen to what her mother is telling her. That’s why she elopes with Asinjo despite her mother’s warnings.
Ø She is a Victim of women discrimination. She is not sent to school just because she is a girl but her brother was sent to their uncle to attend school. She complains “Where is my brother? You sent him to my uncle in the country so that he might attend school. Me, you kept here to work for you” pg 39
Ø She lives a poor life. Wanjiro lives in an impoverished neighbourhood where they share a floor as a bed with her mother. She even desires good dresses but due to poverty she is unable to get one. She is even tempted to steal. In her own words she says “Two days ago I saw a dress in the city. I wanted it, so much, I almost stole it”. Pg 41
Ø She is not educated. Wanjiro is not sent to school unlike her brother.
Ø She is beautiful but not smart. She is a beautiful lady but due to poor living condition at her home she appears not smart. That is one reason she loves Asinjo because he is the only one who acknowledges her beauty despite the fact that she has no nice dresses. She says “Asinjo was different though. Used to touch my breasts. He even said I was beautiful. I felt such a joy – the first time” pg 50
Ø He is a taxi driver. He drives a tax in Nairobi city. He says “I am no longer without a job. I am a tax-driver” pg. 50
Ø He is westernised. He too believes that tribal differences should not form barriers in marriage. He comments that Njango is only an old woman who doesn’t know the ways of the world or the needs of a young woman.
Ø He elopes with Wanjiro. Finally Wanjiro leaves her lonely mother and goes to live with Asinjo.
Ø He has true love for Wanjiro. Despite being threatened by Wanjiro’s mother he kept on visiting her. Moreover, after getting the job many girls want him but his love is still with Wanjiro. He says “I have now got a good job, and many girls want me. If I did not love you would I have come back after all these names your mother called me?”
Ø He is an agent for change. He is anti-tribalism as he tried to show that tribal differences should not be an obstacle in modern relationships. What matters is whether the two parties love each other,
Ø He is an activist. He makes a speech to conscientize people about their rights and the importance of unity if they want to get their rights.
Ø He is sympathetic. At first he was reluctant to lead the delegation to the city council. But when men showed him the notice that they had been given only a few days to move away and women wept in front of him he agreed to lead the delegation.
Ø He is against oppression, humiliation and exploitation. He is using his intellect to help the slum dwellers get their rights by acting as their representative.
Ø He is betrayed by the slum dwellers. When the police appear at the meeting ground all the slum dwellers run away leaving him alone to be arrested by the police as he tries unsuccessfully to call them back.
Ø He believes in unity and not in magic power. The slum dwellers believed that he can use the magic powers to blind the eyes of the City Council, but he assures them that the only magic that can work on their favour is unity.
Ø He is courageous and agent for change. He is among the freedom fighters that fought the white men in the forests. He is still determined to fight for the rights of poor citizen. Even when all the slum dwellers run away he does not run away.
Ø He is arrested by the police and charged of inciting a crowd to violence and civil disobedience.
Ø He is a City Council officer. He works in the City council in the Health Department. Pg 46
Ø He is in charge of the Clean the City Campaign. He says that the city has to be cleaned by demolishing the slums since they are a great shame on the city and the tourists from America, Britain and West Germany are disgusted with the dirty of the city. Pg 46
Ø He is a betrayer. Initially he was a member of the Youth Wing, and a good customer of Njango’s soup. But when he becomes a City Council officer he betrays them and drives them away. Njango says “Is that not Kiongo? He used to come here – every lunch time. A bowl of soup and a fleshy bone, and he would go away all thanks and gratitude....Now he is a king – a king!” pg47-48
Ø He has no mercy. He conducts the Clean-The -City Campaign by mercilessly demolishing the slums but does not allocate an alternative settlement for the slum dwellers. That is why Njango keeps wondering “They are herding us out like cattle, where shall I go now, tonight? Where shall I be, this time tomorrow?” pg 56
Ø He is a slum dweller. He is among the poor people who are living in the slums because when he came back from the detention camp their land was taken and he had no job.
Ø He is illiterate. He is unable to tell his age.
Ø He is an ex-freedom fighter and active member of the ruling Party. He went to fight for freedom and was arrested and sent to Manyani Concentration Camp.
Ø He is a shoemaker. He earns a living by mending shoes.
Ø He is willing to move but the government should first show him a place to go.
Ø He works as a tinsmith. He earns his daily bread by making and selling water-tins, pangas, jembes, braziers etc
Ø He is illiterate. He doesn’t even know his age or the year he came to live at Uhuru market. The journalist asks him his age; he answers “Age? Fifty, sixty, I cannot say. Pg 46. When he is asked about the year he came to Uhuru market, he says “When? Let me count – one, two, three, oh, many years ago. Pg 47.
Ø He has done many jobs during the war of independence and after it. He has worked as a, cook; cooking, washing and sweeping. He worked as a porter with the Railway and Harbour.
Ø He is among the poor slum dwellers. Because of the terrible experiences he went through including sleeping on the shop-verandas, in trenches, public latrines etc, being moved from place to place by the police and hunger, he finally found a place in Uhuru market and started his trade there.
TITLE OF THE BOOK
This book is entitled “This Time Tomorrow”. The title is a reflection of the future life of the people who live at Uhuru Market.
1. Njango is asking herself, ‘Where Shall I Be This Time Tomorrow?” This shows her state of disappointment when the city council decides to demolish their slums. She has nowhere to go.
2. Njago’s voice represents all slum dwellers whose slums were demolished. They are all wondering where they are going to spend their future lives because the slums have been their only home. Their land was taken when they were fighting for independence. E.g. The shoemaker says “It is not that I don’t want to move. But the government should give me a place to go” pg 48
The setting is Kenya after independence. The specific setting is Uhuru Market in Nairobi city. However, the setting can represent many African countries because; Demolition of slums is a common phenomenon in most unplanned African cities.
The playwright has employed a number of techniques in his play.
The play is largely presented in a dialogue although there are few cases of monologue/narration where the journalist narrates the events. Also the playwright used a flashback when a tinsmith narrates his past life before independence.
v He has used the language of journalism where the journalist writes his article and tries to read it. But also the journalist interviews people to get their views on the story of demolition of the slums.
v Moreover he has made use of a song which the freedom fighters sang;
“Even if they deride me, and beat me and kill me,
“They shall never make me forget
“This is a black man’s country.
v To further enrich his style, he has used the language of advertisement. This occurs in two ways; one it is used when making public announcement for a meeting.
o “A meeting! A meeting! Everybody – to the meeting at once. Long live Uhuru Market Long live Uhuru Market.” Pg 49.
v But also when Inspector Kiongo announces “This is inspector Kiongo of the City Council Health Department. I remind all those that dwell in these places that today was the date I gave your last delegation.... pg 46
v Additionally, it is used to advertise a business.
Soup for twenty cents. Soup for twenty cents.
Soup to build your bones.
Soup is cheap here today.
The playwright has used simple language with full of figures of speech. Some of them are outlined below.
Ø Filthy mushrooms symbolises the poor houses/slums. Pg 35
Ø Suddenly one was back in the days of Joshua when the legendary walls of Jericho came tumbling down pg 36.(referring to Jericho in the Bible)
Ø And forgive us our sins. We are late for our morning soup. Pg 45 (referring to the Lord’s Prayer in the Bible)
Ø Not a human soul was in sight. Pg 36 (Meaning no any human being was present)
Ø The terminus normally full of beehive activities was now as quiet as the Kalahari or Sahara desert. Pg 36
Ø Njango and Wanjiro share the floor as a bed. Pg 36
Ø This one snores like a pig pg 36
Ø Asinjo has eyes like the stranger. Pg 39
Ø And such thick lips as big as a mountain. pg 41
Ø They shot him dead like a dog. Pg 43
Ø People who streamed away in every direction like disturbed safari ants. Pg 44
Ø They are herding us out like cattle. Pg 56
Ø (Wanjiro) What a heavy load of flesh. Pg 36
Ø (Human voices) It was another house of Babel. Pg 44
Ø (soup) Our daily bread. Pg 45
Ø What...what water? Pg 37
Ø Cocks crow, babies cry, and tins clash. Pg 39
Ø Image of sight
o Bones, decaying meat, white maggots, tins, paper, broken pots etc. Pg 37
Ø Tactile image. (Image of touch)
o A smooth skin pg 41
Ø Olfactory image (image of smell)
o The tantalizing smell of meat. Pg 45
o Once or twice I slept in public latrines: Phew! The smell, Pg 47
Ø You sleep God’s sleep Pg 37 (sleeping as though you are dead)
Ø Njango you old whore, you know how to milk your men. pg 45
Ø Dawn found us there. Pg 37
Ø Just now noise is dead in the city. Pg 38
Ø The village was waking up. Pg 39
Ø Fleets of buses from the country vomited out people ... who streamed away in every direction like disturbed safari ants. Pg 44
Ø Long live Uhuru Market Long live Uhuru Market. Pg49
Ø You speak to me like that? Do you know who I am? Do you? Pg 40.
Ø And such thick lips as big as a mountain. pg 41
Ø So black – blacker than the soot on that pot. Pg 41
Ø Phew! The smell, Pg 47
Ø Puuu! His voice makes me spit Pg 47
Ø Cock crowing; chicken cackling. Pg 44
Ø Run! Run! Run! quickly. Pg 53
Ø Police! The police are coming pg 53
Ø Hurry up! Hurry up! Pg 55,56,
THEMES IN THE PLAY
There are many themes in the play “This Time Tomorrow” that it’s so hard to exhaust them all. In this book, we are going to discuss the following themes among others; Land Alienation, Poverty, Position Of Women, Ignorance And Illiteracy, Classes, Superstition, Disillusion, Tribalism, Betrayal, Colonial legacy, Conflicts, Disunity etc.
Land alienation is discussed in two levels in this play. There is Land alienation during colonialism and Land alienation after independence. The Kenyans are complaining and protesting against land alienation in the following ways.
Ø During colonial occupation of Kenya, people’s land was taken by the colonialists and the Kenyans remained landless. So the Kenyans had to fight for their land in which case most of them had to go into the forest to fight for their soil as the Shoemaker narrates: “We were fighting for freedom, we were fighting for our soil” pg 48. The Stranger says “We fought for land! But where is the land? Pg 53.
Ø After independence, people are still facing the same problem. The new government officials have taken the land of the poor people who more often than not are those who went into the forest to fight for the land. When they came back after independence their land was gone and it was not returned to them. The Shoemaker says “I came back home after the Emergency. The white man had gone. No job for me, no land either”. This shows that the freedom fighters laboured for freedom in vain.
Many people are extremely poor in this society. Not only do they find it hard to afford the daily meals, but they also live in an impoverished neighbourhood (slums). The Shoemaker, tinsmith, Njango, Wanjiro, customers are just few cases in point. The issue of poverty is discussed in the following scenarios;
Ø Njango’s family is poor. Njango is living a poor life with her daughter Wanjiro. The playwright says even their shelter was made of cardboards and rotting tins. Also “Njango and Wanjiro share the floor as a bed”. This is a proof of the highest level of poverty. Moreover, Wanjiro desires good dresses but due to poverty she is unable to get one. She is even tempted to steal. In her own words she says “Two days ago I saw a dress in the city. I wanted it, so much, I almost stole it”. Pg 41. It’s this reason that makes her elope with Asinjo to try a better life in the city.
Ø The Slum dwellers are poor. Most slum dwellers are living in slums because that is what they can afford. They have no jobs, no houses and no money to buy expensive land in the city and build decent houses. That is why they fought for Uhuru believing that their lives would be improved once a black man was in power. The stranger says “We fought for Uhuru, because we were told it would mean, decent houses, and decent jobs! But where are the jobs? Where are the houses?”pg 53
There are two major classes in this society; the lower class (poor people) and the High class (rich people). The rich class becomes richer by exploiting the efforts of the poor people majority of whom, are those who fought for independence.
Ø The lower class. This is represented by the slum dwellers who live miserably because their land has been taken by those in power. As though that is not enough, they are evicted from the only place where they are living; At Uhuru Market. Most of them earn their living by engaging in petty businesses. They are working as shoemakers, tinsmith, selling soup, etc. So driving them away from this place is just adding salt to the wound. Njango is so desperate and she wonders “Where will Wanjiro and I go when they drive us from here? Where to set up a new trade to earn us bread and water?” pg 54
Ø High Class. The high class comprises the petty bourgeoisie class that took power from the colonialists and simply ideally replaced the coloniser. The rich Africans are enjoying life, driving expensive cars and living in residential areas for the high class people just as it was during colonialism. Speaking to Wanjiro, Asinjo says “Now I know every part of the city. From Kolo where Europeans live, to Westlands and Kabete where rich Africans have bought stone houses”. pg 50. To show how worse class division can be, the stranger speaks in dissatisfaction, “It (Uhuru) has brought us people who love driving Mercedes Benz and long American cars! While we starve in the slums! Let the city council leave us alone in our slums and our misery” pg 52
Ø This is a state of disappointment because the person you admired or the idea you believed to be good and true now seems without value. Many Africans joined the freedom movements because they believed once they drove the White man away and gained their independence then their living standards would be improved as well. But this is not what happened. The poor people remained poor and those who took power are the only ones enjoying the national cake. As a result the majority are disillusioned. They say;
“We fought for Uhuru, because we were told it would mean, decent houses, and decent jobs! But where are the jobs? Where are the houses?”pg 53
Ø People believe that Uhuru has brought them practically nothing. But the stranger corrects them by saying “It has brought us people who love driving Mercedes Benz and long American cars! While we starve in the slums” pg 52. This is the highest level of disappointment. The majority believe that good life is now entitled to the chosen few. Wanjiro tells her mother that the stranger said “The city belongs to us, the shops, the factories, everything”. And Njango responds desperately “Alas, only to the chosen few.” Pg 41. This shows that they have nothing to share in the fruits of independence.
A conflict is a situation in which people, groups or countries are involved in a serious disagreement or argument. It can also be understood as a situation in which there are opposing ideas, opinions, feelings or wishes; a situation in which it is difficult to choose. In this play there are several conflicts.
Ø Intrapersonal conflict. This is shown in the following ways:
o Njango faces a serious intrapersonal conflict when she is forced to move to the unknown place and wonders where she is going to spend the rest of her life. To express this conflict she says, “Where will Wanjiro and I go when they drive us from here? Where to set up a new trade to earn us bread and water?” pg 54. It is this same conflict that gives us the title of the play when she says “They are herding us out like cattle. Where shall I go now, tonight? Where shall I be this time tomorrow? Pg 56
o Wanjiro suffers an intrapersonal conflict because of the poor condition at home. While she is a grown up girl and very beautiful, she is poorly dressed unlike other girls of her age. This makes her less smart and uncomfortable. She even desires good dresses to the point that she almost stole a dress in the city. To show her dissatisfaction with the poor life at home she says “Look at me. I have no clothes like other girls. I am now a woman. Yet no man dares glance in my direction. Well, maybe once or twice but only to ask: who is that thing in rags? Pg50. As a solution she runs away with Asinjo who loves her.
Ø Family conflict. This occurs between Wanjiro and her mother (Njango). This conflict arises from the lazy and stubborn behaviour of Wanjiro towards her mother. She does not wake up on time to help her mother with domestic chores like other girls do. So Njango keeps complaining and Wanjiro argues back. As a result Wanjiro decides to run away from home as a solution to her problems.
Ø Political conflict. This conflict occurs between the government officers and the slum dwellers. It results from the fact that the government (police) and the City Council want to demolish the shelters of the slum dwellers. The slum dwellers hold a meeting in protest but it is suppressed by the government through the police. The stranger is arrested for inciting a crowd to violence and civil disobedience! These conflicts are common in many African countries.
Ø Cultural conflict. There is a conflict between modern European culture and traditional African culture. In other words it is a conflict between modernity against conservatism. The young generation being represented by Asinjo and Wanjiro have got their own ways of looking at things different from that of old generation being represented by Njango. In this play we see Wanjiro admiring not only to have better life like that of well-to-do African ladies, but more importantly to live like a European lady. She is an avid admirer of western lifestyle. She wants to marry Asinjo so that she may go to live a European-like life in the city. She says“I long for the pleasures of this glittering city. I want a frock. And shoes – high heels– so that I can walk like a European lady. A bag hanging from my left elbow – fingering a cigarette in my right hand.” pg 52
Ø As if that is not enough, she goes out of her way and says to her mother, “I am going with him! You are old. You don’t know the ways of the world or the needs of a young woman” pg 55 They also believe in intertribal marriages. For them what matters is love.
Ø On the other hand, are those with conservative ideas like Njango who believe that intertribal marriages are impossible. These people believe that a man from another tribe and without a job cannot protect the girl. When these two sides meet with differing perspectives there is obviously a natural conflict.
This is a behaviour, attitude, etc. that is based on being loyal to a tribe or other social group. Although it appears in a small part, it is significant that we discuss it. Tribalism is a problem in most African countries. It is also one of the reasons that account for the many civil wars and political instability in African countries. In this play, Njango shows an open involvement in tribal loyalties. She denies Wanjiro to marry Asinjo due to the fact that Asinjo is from a different tribe. Njango is still conservative and doesn’t believe that people who are from different tribes can love and protect each other. To Wanjiro she says, “Protected you? A man from another tribe? Tribalism has to be stopped.
IGNORANCE AND ILLITERACY
Ignorance and illiteracy have been common enemies in developing countries. Many people are not only ignorant of important information about their lives but they are also illiterate and thus they perpetuate outdated customs and hinder their development. This theme is discussed by the playwright in the following ways:
Ø Njago is ignorant of the cultural dynamics. She still holds tribalistic ideas, believing that people from different tribes cannot intermarry and still be committed to each other. That’s why she rejects Wanjiro’s proposal to marry Asinjo.
Ø The slum dwellers are ignorant of the better ways to fight for their rights. They believe in outdated superstations to work in their favour. They want the stranger to work magic by blinding the eyes of the City council. The stranger being aware of their ignorance he tells them that the only magic that can work for them is their unity.
Ø The tinsmith and shoemaker are illiterate. They don’t even know their age nor the year the tinsmith came to live at Uhuru market. The journalist asks the tinsmith his age; he answers “Age? Fifty, sixty, I cannot say. Pg 46. When he is asked about the year he came to Uhuru market, he says “When? Let me count – one, two, three, oh, many years ago. Pg 47. With such kind of people in the society it is hard to develop because more often than not they are the ones who become an obstacle to their own development. Recall how the stranger struggled unsuccessfully to call them back when the police appeared at the meeting square “Brothers and sisters! I beseech you not to run away! Your cause is just! Your homes are dear to you!”pg 54. They all ran away.
Superstition is the belief that particular events happen in a way that cannot be explained by reason or science; or the belief that particular events bring good or bad luck. This is a common problem among many African societies.
This society also believes in the power of magic to help them in times of trouble. They believe that the stranger has the magic power that can blind the eyes of the City Council officers not to evacuate them from their slums.
The 1st customer says “Why don’t we hold a meeting with the stranger? He works in magic. Will he not blind their eyes? Pg 49
When he tells them that he cannot work magic and that he has no the power of the witchdoctor to blind the eyes of the determined City council, they are so disappointed. The crowd wonders “What is he saying? Why does he say this? He can help us! He must help us! Pg 52
To betray is to hurt somebody who trusts you, especially by not being loyal or faithful to them. It also means to ignore your principles or beliefs in order to achieve something or gain an advantage for yourself. Betrayal is another common enemy to development in developing countries. Betrayal appears from individual to national levels. The playwright has portrayed betrayal in the following cases:
Ø Many Africans freedom fighters were betrayed by those who took power from colonialists. People believe that Uhuru has brought them practically nothing. But the stranger corrects them by saying “It has brought us people who love driving Mercedes Benz and long American cars! While we starve in the slums” pg 52. This shows that the majority have been betrayed by the minority. The majority believe that good life is now entitled to the chosen few. Wanjiro tells her mother that the stranger said “the city belongs to us, the shops, the factories, everything”. And Njango responds desperately “Alas, only to the chosen few.” Pg 41. This is to say they have nothing to share in the fruits of independence.
Ø Inspector Kiongo has betrayed the slum dwellers. Initially he was a member of the Youth Wing, and a good customer of Njango’s soup. But when he becomes a City Council officer he betrays them and drives them away. Njango says “Is that not Kiongo? He used to come here – every lunch time. A bowl of soup and a fleshy bone, and he would go away all thanks and gratitude....Now he is a king – a king!” pg47-48
Ø Wanjiro betrays her mother by running away and leaving her desperate. Wanjiro leaves her mother alone in a demolished homestead and goes to live in the city with Asinjo. Njango calls her unsuccessfully “Wanjiro! Wanjiro! Don’t go away. Don’t leave me alone! What shall I do without you? I am a useless old woman”. Wanjiro ignores all these and leaves. This is betrayal to her mother.
Ø The stranger is betrayed by the slum dwellers. They are the ones who asked him to address them but when the police appear at the meeting ground all the slum dwellers run away leaving him alone to be arrested by the police as he tries unsuccessfully to call them back.
UNITY and DISUNITY.
Ø Unity is very important in any struggle. If people want to achieve their goals especially when struggling against oppressive ruling class, unity is a basic requirement. Unfortunately enough this is not the case in this society. At first they joined hands together and requested the stranger to lead a delegation to the city council. Men showed him the notice that they had been given only a few days to move away and women wept in front of him he agreed to lead the delegation to ask for the extension of the time they were given to move and it worked. They were given a grace period of one month.
Ø In the final round, they ask him to address them in a meeting where they should express their grievances towards the government for evicting them from their homes without showing them where to go. While they believe in magic power, the stranger tells them that the only magic that can help them is unity. He says “Let us stand together. Let us with one voice tell the new government: we want our homes, we love them. Unless the City Council shows us another place to go, where we can earn our bread, we shall not lift a finger to demolish our homes! We must defend our own”. Pg 53
Ø As if he was talking to himself, they didn’t understand him. When the police appear all run away while he calls them back unsuccessfully. Finally, Njango wonders what different it could have made if they had stood together “If only we had stood up together! If only we could stand together”. Pg 56
Ø The message we get here is that United we stand, divided we fall.
POSITION OF WOMEN
A woman is portrayed in various positions in this play.
Ø A woman is portrayed as a caretaker. Njango tries her level best to provide for the family and takes care of Wanjiro. She often tries to mould her daughter to be a responsible girl. E.g. in page 37 she says “Other girls rise up before the sun to help with morning chores. This one snores like a pig. I will truly pinch your fat nose or drench your face with cold water”. This is an attempt to make her responsible.
Ø A woman is portrayed as a victim of gender discrimination. Wanjiro is not sent to school just because she is a girl but her brother was sent to their uncle to attend school. She complains “Where is my brother? You sent him to my uncle in the country so that he might attend school. Me, you kept here to work for you” pg 39
Ø A woman is portrayed as a hardworking person and a bread earner. Njango wakes up early in the morning daily and prepares the soup to sell to the morning customers. She earns a living by selling soup to slum dwellers. As one of her customers comments,“Give me another mug of soup. You got to be taught to live in this market city”. Pg 45
Ø A woman is portrayed as a person with true love. Wanjiro is a case in point here. Despite the threats and warnings from her mother that she should stay away from Asinjo because she cannot marry a man from another tribe, she eloped with Asinjo nevertheless. For her what matters is love and not tribes.
Ø A woman is portrayed as an avid admirer of western lifestyle. Wanjiro admires living like Europeans. She wants to marry Asinjo so that she may go to live European-like life in the city. She says “I long for the pleasures of this glittering city. I want a frock. And shoes – high heels – so that I can walk like a European lady. A bag hanging from my left elbow – fingering a cigarette in my right hand.” pg 52
Ø A woman is portrayed as a Traditionalist. This can be proved from the way Njango denies Wanjiro to marry a man from another tribe, she believes that a man from a different tribe cannot protect her daughter. Also she sent her son to his uncle to attend school but retained Wanjiro because she is a girl. This is an outdated tradition.
Colonialism and western life style in African countries have produced people who are suffering from colonial hangovers. African countries are now politically independent but they are still mentally colonised. There are people who still admire western lifestyle and ways of living.
Ø Wanjiro admires living like Europeans. She wants to marry Asinjo so that she may go to live European-like life in the city. She says“I long for the pleasures of this glittering city. I want a frock. And shoes – high heels – so that I can walk like a European lady. A bag hanging from my left elbow – fingering a cigarette in my right hand.” pg 52
Ø The high/ruling class that took power from the colonialists are enjoying life, driving expensive cars and living in residential areas for the high class people just as it was during colonialism. Speaking to Wanjiro, Asinjo says “Now I know every part of the city. From Kolo where Europeans live, to Westlands and Kabete where rich Africans have bought stone houses”. pg 50. To show how the high class is mentally colonised, the stranger speaks in dissatisfaction, “It (Uhuru) has brought us people who love driving Mercedes Benz and long American cars! While we starve in the slums! Let the city council leave us alone in our slums and our misery” pg 52.
Ø The slums are also demolished to please the American and European tourists. Listen to Insp. Kiongo speaking. “They are a great shame on the city. Tourists from America, Britain and West Germany are disgusted with the dirty of the city. Pg 46
Ø All these are the effects of colonialism in Africa.
v Unity is very important in any struggle. United we stand divided we fall.
v The government officers should allocate alternative settlement for the citizens before they give them eviction orders (notice).
v Tribalism is an outdated custom so it should be stopped.
v Both boys and girls should be give equal rights to education.
v The ruling class should consider the welfare of the masses. (the majority)
v Betrayal is not good in any society that wants to develop.
v Illiteracy and ignorance are obstacles and enemies to development. We should fight against these enemies.
v Classes in the society create unnecessary conflicts and hinder development of the oppressed.
v We should not believe in superstitions and magic power because it is an outdated custom.
v People must be aware of their rights and the practical ways to fight for their rights.
v Youths should listen to the advice given to them by their parents.
v Youths should not be fooled by the pleasures of the city, but they should fight for their future.
v You cannot succeed if you are not working hard.
The book is relevant to most African countries as shown below;
v Land alienation and Demolition of the unplanned settlements is a common phenomenon in expanding African Cities. This is seen even in Dar-es-Salaam City where demolition is done on regular basis to improve infrastructure like roads and railways, to provide room for city planning, to set up social services like water pipes, high voltage electric lines, building hospitals, schools, industries, or giving land to the investors.
v Tribalism is also prevalent in countries like Kenya where even the General election is held on the basis of the candidates’ tribes. Voters vote for someone from their own tribes.
v Illiteracy rate is very high in developing countries. Most people don’t know how to read and write so it is very hard to understand the development plans that are in papers.
v In some societies the girl-child is still denied the access to education because of her gender. Only boys are sent to school because they are believed to be the ones to take over the family responsibilities when the parents are old or gone.
v There are classes in all societies. The ruling class comprising of those in power (Chosen few) in most countries is enjoying the national cake, while the majority are suffering and starving in slums.
v There are many people in Africa who are suffering from colonial hangovers. They admire western lifestyle, dresses, foods, music, cars, and the general western life.