TITLE: WEEP NOT, CHILD
AUTHOR: NGUGI WA THIONG’O.
SETTING: KENYA BEFORE INDEPENDENCE
The novel,” Weep Note, Child.” Was written by Ngungi wa thiong”o in 1964 and set in Kenya. The novel reveals the effects of the Mau Mau war in Kenya. The author shows how people (natives) participate in the war. Some of the Kenyans are in dilemma. Example Njoroge and Kamau. Whether to be loyal to their family or the government. Also the author shows how Africans led by betrayed fellow Africans by being closer to the whites while neglecting fellow Africans.
The novel has eighteen chapters which are categorized into two parts: the first part has the title: THE WANING LIGHT which has seven chapters and the second part has the title. DARKNESS FALLS with eleven chapters. There is an interlude effect of the protest by the Africans against their white masters.
SUMMARY OF THE NOVEL:
THE WANING LIGHT
Nyokabi, Ngotho’s Second wife, inform her son, Njoroge, of the plan to take him to school. The boy looks excited about the news. Njoroge wants to go to school so that he can be like the big son of Jacobo and the children of Mr. How lands. Ngotho is squatter in Jacobo’s land and works for Mr. How lands, a white man as a farm laborer. Ngotho does not own a piece of land.
Mr. Howland is a rich white farmer in where Ngotho works while Jacobo is a rich African in whose land Ngotho stays with his two wives Njeri and Njokabi with their children Boro, Kori, Kamau, and Njoroge. It is also revealed that the blacks especially boys who are working for Indian traders at the shopping center at Kipanga are extremely exploited by their bosses.
Njoroge’s mother seems not to like her boy being close to Mwihaki, Jacobo’s daughter because Jacobo is rich while Ngotho, Njoroge”s father is a poor man. Ngotho tells his sons stories of the world war and their land which was taken away by the white men. He tells the young men the history of their land which was given to their first ancestors, Kikuyu and Mumbi. The sons, Boro, Kori, Kamau and Njoroge, seem to build hatred for Jacobo and Mr. Howlands after they are made aware that the two grabbed their father’s land when Ngotho had gone to the world war.
Ngotho is portrayed as a hard worker as seen by the value that Mr. Howlands has given him. Mr. How lands knows that Ngotho has contributed so much in his progress in the farmer. He cannot sack him despite his wife’s suggestion against that he sometimes needs his view about the farm and his plans.
Njoroge is at school and does well the lessons taught at school. His new teacher is called Isaka a short man with a small mustache. It is revealed that Isaka is not a good Christian and he is a womanizer. Njoroge is still close to Jacobo’s daughter. Ngotho believes that the education of their son will be a salvation to the family and the people of Kenya who wants their candy band from the white man.
Boro and Koro have already left for the city, because they did not have land or employment. Njoroge and Kamau are afraid that their alder brothers would get lost in the city. Kamau complains about Nganga whom he intends to stop working for and go to the city. There is a strike planned by workers to protest against exploitations and low wages. The strike was throughout the country wide and it affected the white’s government.
Kori and Boro came at home with some men who know much about the affairs of the country. They taller about Jomo and the strike which dominated their talk. Ngotho has conflict with his wife Nyakobi. She has warned him against joining the strike fearing that it would make him lose his Job. Ngotho never wants to take orders from a woman. She was sloped. Mr. How lands warns his employees never to involve themselves in the strike or else they will lose their Jobs. Ngotho is in dilemma on whether to strike or note.
It is the beginning of a new year. Njoroge and Mwihaki are happy that they have passed their exams and would go to an intermediate school. Ngotho is then given orders to vacate Jacobo’s land after the incident. He is given a piece of land to build by Nganga the carpenter the cost of building new huts is so high to Ngotho especially now when he has lost his Job at Mr. How land’s farm. Kamau pays for Njoroge’s education cost in standard V. white Mwihaki goes to a boarding school for girls, for away.
he stories of Dedans Kimathi, leader of the African free doom Army spread all over. Some people say he has powers to change in to anything he wishes, which makes it impossible for him to be arrested by the Whiteman’s government. The incident in which Ngotho attacked Jacobo has caused a, lot of tension into full fledged Mau Mau fighters. Boro blames his father Ngotho for being the cause of the failure of the strike to pick up.
Njoroge is seen having argument with his colleagues in school about the Mau Mau. He is actually unaware of what is exactly meant by the Mau Mau movement. People live in fear of the white man’s government, especially Ngotho, whose sons are no longer close to the family. He is afraid that Jacobo will retaliate. Jomo has been defeated in his trial against the white man’s government. It is heard that Jomo has been imprisoned. They blame this on the disunity of the natives themselves.
The pressure of the Mau Mau is giving Mr. How lands a hard time with his administration. He is, however, determined to wipe them out using their fellow Africans. Jacobo, the clue, reports to Mr. How lands about his suspicion of Ngotho and his elder son, Boro. Mr. How lands instructs Jacobo to find a way of arresting them for curfew or tax. Kari and Njeri are arrested at night for curfew but only Njeri is released after the fine has been paid. Kori is sent to a detention camp without trial.
Fear and tension increase among the natives. There is curfew at night. Njoroge wonders how Mwihaki will react when they meet especially with enmity of their parents since Ngotho attacked Jacobo. It is revealed that the barber and five others have been discovered dead in the forest. Mwihaki expresses her feelings about her father to Njoroge. She hates to see Jacobo with all the security. The economic and social gap between the two seems to have widened and they both feel it.
It is revealed that that Mr. How lands looks contended with his trick of inciting Africans to kill each other. He has ignored his wife suggestions about going back to England. Jacobo gives Mr. How lands the note he received a few days ago dropped at his door. The note reads.
“STOP YOUR MURDEROUS ACTIVITIES, OR ELSE WE SHALL COME FOR YOUR HEAD. THIS IS OUR LAST WARNING”. Jacobo suspects Ngotho to have brought this note. The white soldiers accused Isaka and killed him on the way to church.
Njoroge passes the examination and his family was happy about his success. Njoroge meets Mwihaki on the last Sunday before he leaves for school. They promise to communicate with each other while at school. Mwihaki Joined Teacher Training school since she does not pass the exams as Njoroge.
Njoroge Joins siriana sec. school. He enjoys his stay in school where he interacts with students from all over Kenya and meets with many more others of different races. He meets Stephen, Mr. How land “s son. These two have a social and economic boundary. While at siriana.
Njoroge is picked from school under the escort of two police officers in a black car. He is handed to two police officers who take him, to a home guard post known as the house of pain. At that home, Njoroge is returned to confess the oath European officers claim he had taken. At home of torture he hears the voice of Njeri and Nyokabi. They have both been all arrested. Ngotho confesses to have killed Jacobo so as to save his son, Boro. Njoroge is shocked when he thinks of the good friend ship between him and Mwihaki.
Ngotho passes away some days after having been released from the home guard post four days ago. This torture resulted in to his death. No one cries or mourns the death of Ngotho because of insecurity.
This chapter reveals Mr. How lands has been killed by an unknown person the very night that Ngotho dies. Boro and Kamau are suspected for the murder. It is also revealed that Njoroge has dropped out of school because of all these events and has been compelled by situation to work for an Indian in his shop. He hates his Job but cannot do otherwise.
Mwihaki meets Njoroge. She turns down the request because of conflict between their families. The memory of her father death makes her see Njoroge as an enemy. Njoroge is hurt by the hope which has failed him. He attempts to commit suicide on a tree branch but is saved by her step mothers, Njeri and Njokabi. He considers himself a coward.
FORM OF THE NOVEL
From the novel weep Not Child the author portrays the following:
The title of the Novel
“Weep Not Child: This symbolizes people suffering. It is very relevant to the story itself because the author has shown that the characters have suffered from poverty taking an example to Ngotho’s family who have even no house to accommodate them.
- Also characters have been portrayed to have been suffering from ignorance as evidenced to Ngotho’s family where almost the whole family has never attended to school with an exception of Njoroge whose dream is also denied by the colonialists because they arrest him from the school as a suspect to have been taken Maumau oath.
- Characters are portrayed to suffer from excessive oppression, humiliation as well as intimidation done by the whites. This is also widely seen on the way Njoroge is dismissed from the school. Ngotho and other Africans who suspected to have been involved in Maumau war are killed; tortured hence insecurity grew among Africans.
- Characters are suffering from disunity as well as result of betrayal and puppets made by some few Africans. Taking an example to Jacobo who can’t unite with his fellow Africans since he is regarded to be puppet to the whites. There is a war (Maumau) which ultimately causes fear and insecurity among Africans to the extent that people are crying.
In this case the author tries to portray that the children (people) of Africa should not cry rather they have to work hard in meeting their set goals.
- He is the husband of Nyokabi and Njeri as well as the father of Boro, Kamau, Kori, Njoroge and Mwangi.
- He is an ex-soldier who fought during the Second World War in favor for the British colonial rule.
- He has no land to settle with his family. Thus he is a squatter in Jacobo’s land and affirm laborer in Mr. Holland’s farm.
- He succeeds in maintaining peace in his family but the peace was disturbed after all clung Jacob.
- He is a polygamous since he posses two wives, Njeri and Nyokabi.
- He is in a conflict with Jacob because Jacob sold his land to Mr. Howland when Ngotho was in the war.
- He is a nationalist because he mobilized his fellow Africans to fight against the whites.
He dies because he was hitted by exploitation done by foreigners.
LESSONS WE GET FROM NGOTHO
- African traditions like polygamy may have positive impact to people’s life. We see Ngotho’s family loves each other particularly on how they support Njoroge to join school despite being polygamous.
- Extended families in Africa always create burden to families. This is shown on the way Ngotho fails to take his children to school because of large number of family he has.
- The movement to liberation is not a simple phenomenon since it is characterized by torture as seen to Ngotho who is highly tortured.
- He is the son of Ngotho and Ngotho.
- He has the ambition of studying hard thus he is a hard worker as he believes that only education will liberate the Kenyan.
- He is accused by the police to have taken the Mau Mau oath.
- He is taken from his boarding school under the escort of police officers to join his parent in a home guard post. Hence he is taken from his boarding school under the escort of the police.
- He is a honest boy as he embraces/behaves like an African boy by respecting his parents and others.
- He is a friend of Mwihaku, He attempts to commit suicide but is saved by his step mothers.
LESSON WE GET FROM NJOROGE
- Poverty limits a child to get access to basic needs. Children like Njoroge cannot get better clothing because of poor living conditions found in the families.
- A friend in need is a friend indeed. Here we see that true friends support each other in time of need. This is shown on the way Mwihaki and Njoroge provide mutual relationship.
- Young people can establish the best and successful relationship. The author shows how Mwihaki and Njoroge relationship is good in a sense that it proves that the relationship between girls and boys does not only mean love affairs only.
- Hard working is the father to success. The author shows how Njoroge studies hard where the result of his commitment and struggle is good performance he gets.
- He is a rich African farmer.
- He is a betrayer because he the only Africa allowed by the whites to grow pyrethrum in the land.
- He is a father of two children Mwihaki and Lucia.
- He is against the African who protest against colonial rule. Thus he is a puppet and selfish person because he support the whites at the expense of other African
- He is hypocrisy as seen on the way he chases away Ngotho from works to Mr. How lands.
- He is killed by Boro as revenge to the cruel rule he was exercising on the native Kenyan.
- He represents few Africans who are ready to endanger other fellow men for their own sake
WHAT DO WE LEARN FROM JACOBO
- Puppetism extends domination of African by foreigners. Good example is cited to Jacob who causes his fellow Africans to be extremely dominated by the whites because of his speculations he made from Africans towards the whites.
- Betrayal is bad as it causes conflict and ultimately may lead into the killing. This is evidenced on the way Jacobo’s betrayal causes his death as he receive a sound beating from Africans who are indeed furious and dissatisfied with his deeds.
- MR. HOWLANDS
- He is a white settler who owns large plot of land
- He never think of returning back home in Europe because of richness of the land in Kenya.
- He is harsh as well as racist as seen on how he harshly treats Africans who work for him
- He is an oppressor as well as exploiter to Africans because they worked to his farm for long hours but received very low payment
- He has a son whom he decided to take him back to stay in Europe.
- Like other Europeans he represents group of the foreigners who tend to torture and victimize Africans by despising their ways of life as well as making them serve as their servant
LESSONS WE GET FROM MR. HOWLANDS
(i) From Mr. How lands we get a lesson that white’s investment in Africa may have bad intentions. This is evidenced on the way how settlers like Mr. How lands who has no eve a dream of leaving the continent (Africa) because of heavy investment that they have invested. Some whites/settlers have settled in Africa forever.
(ii) Foreigners especially whites have nothing substantial to Africans rather their self gain. This is shown on the way Mr. How lands uses Ngotho as a cheap labor who then assumes positively by working very hard as a result Mr. Howland is not concerned on his economic hardship that faces him what he real cares is only his labor power.
- She is the first wife of Ngotho.
- She is the mother of Boro, Kamau and Kori.
- She cares her family very well. So as her family members are united.
- She is Ngotho’s first wife as well as the mother of Boro, Kamau and Kori
- She cares her family very well
- She respects his husband too.
- She is the second wife of Ngotho.
- She is the mother of Njoroge and Mwangi.
- She cares the family very well and unites it.
- She is intelligent woman.
- She makes sure that her son goes to school.
- She is tortured and victimized.
- Teacher Isaka.
- He teaches in primary school.
- He is killed when his trek is discovered by the white man
- He uses the church and religion to incite the natives against the white man’s rule.
- She is the youngest daughter of Jacobo.
- She is the closest friend of Njoroge.
- She is kind girl because she supported Njoroge from the group of young boys who planned to harass him
- She suffers from alienation because of status of her parents.
The term exploitation refers to misuse of human resources without paying proper benefit for it. In the book, the author has shown that the white men exploit the poor natives who work for them in the farms. Ngotho is an illustrative evidence of the exploited Africans. Africans are taken by force to fight in the World War II, the war which is none of their concern. As a result, they are losing their land. Ngotho, Nganga, Boro and Barber are good examples of people who were exploited.
Exploitation is vividly practiced in many parts of the world Tanzania in particular since majority among the Tanzanians do not receive what they actually deserve to. Different workers in government and private owned institutions are extremely exploited through their labor. We should ensure that all sorts (elements) of exploitation are uprooted if at all we real need to build a just society.
This is an action of having more than one wife. In the novel the author has shown this by using Ngotho who has two wife’s Njeri and Nyokabi. However, the existence of two wives in one house, they live in peaceful way to the extent that they allow Njoroge who is born from the junior mother (Nyokabi) to join the school and the whole family agreed to support him including his brothers from elder wife (Njeri). The tendency of polygamy is real seen in many African societies where many families do practice it despite the prevalence of some discrepancies attached to it more especially misunderstanding among them. To this there is a need to create mutual love and affection for smooth upbringing our family.
Awareness can simply be referred to the knowledge that someone has about something good or bad that existing within the society. In the book the author shows that many people in Kenya are aware of the situation in the country that is why they decide to form a group of fighting against the actions of white men. Also Mwihaki and Njoroge are aware of their parent’s enormity. More over the family of Ngotho is aware of what happened during and after the world war. Awareness is vividly seen to majority in Tanzania particularly on government deeds like corruption, nepotism as well as other social upheavals. We should therefore strive in avoiding all issues that may contribute to failure of our progress.
Protest refers to the act of expressing strong disagreement with or opposition to something. This disagreement may be either positive or negative. In the book, the author shows that people in Kenya protest against the actions of forced labor land alienation, heavy taxation, and harsh treatment which are done by whites. This is shown by Mau Mau fighters. Equally important, the practice of protest is very much seen in our society where we live in particularly when undesirably action happens. To this people have been protesting against the action of killing of albinism, early marriage, excessive drinking and indeed immoral behaviors that leads to chaos and shame to the society members. It is worthy while for the society to stand still in fighting for society’s rights without any sort of hesitation.
The term womanization refers to the act of a man involving in sexual relationship with many different women who are not legally married with. In the novel, the author has used teacher Isaka who is a woman lover. He loves girls and woman for sexual affairs. The habit of womanization is real happening in many societies where men tend to involve init by having several partners without taking into an account that the action may results to the spread of deadly disease like HIV and infringe (affects) their future dream put in place. In this case society has to bear in mind that wominazation is a bad act since it may results into economic mis appropriation, it also results into conflicts and worse still it contributes to loss of man power necessary to national development. Thus the concerned individuals/groups should get rid of it.
The term poverty refers to the state of not being able to get basic needs due to limitation of resources. In other word the term refers to inability of a person to meet his/her basic needs such as food, shelter and clothes. In the novel, Ngotho is portrayed as a poor African who owns nothing except his labor power as a results he decided to work as a laborer to Mr. Howland’s farm for meager (low) payment. It is because of poverty his son Njoroge is seen being laughed by fellow children at school because of poor dresses he put on (torn clothes). Poverty has is a common thing to many people in the world Tanzania in particular when people who lives in rural and even urban live in poverty line. This is because they don’t have access to better health services; they fail to maintain eating diet as a result the only way forward such society can do is to work hard in different sectors by using their manual laborers in order to minimize hardship in their life.
Role of women
this refers to the way on how women contribute either positively or negatively in the society. In this book the author has portrayed women differently. Woman as good advisor. To this the author shows how Nyokabi (Ngothos’s wife) advises his husband (Ngotho) from not joining the movement because she real new that his (Ngotho’s) involvement would affect the stability of the family. Since women are not given access in front of men when it comes issues to make decision, Ngotho what her wife (Nyokabi) advised him and decided to join the movement leading him to be charged to have been among the organizer of the movements against colonialism. In our society, women have been key figures in bringing positive harmony to the development especially at family level, individual and indeed national levels because they hold leadership positions through that they engineer development.
The term betrayal is defined as the act of not being faithful to something or someone. In other word it refers to the act of going the agreement made by two. In the novel, there are many actions which show the denial of people to his/her fellow friends. The author shows how Jacob betrays his fellow Africans for accepting to join the white man’s government. Ngotho betrays his family when he attacks Jacobo. A lot of tension exists between the two friends, especially his brother, Njoroge by killing Jacob. This leads to dismissal of Njoroge from school. The tendency of betrayal is commonly seen in our society since family members betray one another; political leaders are the leading bodies in betraying their citizen’s above all religious leaders do the same. We have to find way out of getting rid of it.
The term conflict refers to the collision or disagreement between two or more opposing sides. It can also involve an individual. In the Novel the novelist has portrayed different misunderstandings (conflicts). The conflict between the natives and the white man’s government and also there is a family conflict between Ngotho’s family and Jacobi’s. The conflict between Mr.Howlands and his wife has been shown by the author. Intra – personal conflict is present to Ngotho, Boro, Njoroge Mwihaki, and Jacobo. These conflicts are categorized as follows;
This refers to that conflict that occurs between one person and another. In the novel, the author has shown this by giving the conflict between Ngotho and Jacob. This is because Jacob is claimed to have sold Ngotho’s plot to the white settlers (Mr. Howland). To add on that there is a conflict between Jacob and his fellow Africans. This conflict emanates from the fact that Jacob is has hypocritical tendency as he used to disclose the secret set in place by Africans to the whites.
This refers to the conflict that occurs within or someone’s mind. The author shows that Njoroge has been affected to this type of conflict ore especially after being dismissed out of the school while he formerly believed that it is only education that will liberate the Kenyans.
To this he then decides to kill himself (suicide). Equally important the boy (Njoroge) faces intra-personal conflict due to the fact that his parents has put impossible conditions to him from not being closer to Mwihaki whom they love each other.
- Family conflict: This refers to the conflict that involves the members of the family only. In the book book, the author has shown different kinds of family conflicts like a conflict between Ngotho and his wife. This conflict emanates from the fact that Ngotho never honor the advice posed out by her wife (Nyokabi) not to join the African’s movement because it may brings contradiction to the family.
- Political conflict: This refers to the conflict in which members of different countries/nations come into different misunderstanding over the political affairs. In the book, the author shows that the Kenyans organized Maumau war against the whites in order to bring political stability and to stamp all kind of dictatorial tendencies rooted among the whites to them.
- Economic conflict: This is a type of conflict whereby there is class/social stratification among the people. In the book, the author has shown this type of conflict citing an example to Jacob who enjoys from the favor given by the whites while the majority (Africans) suffers by being paid low wages. Also the whites enjoy the African resources including land found in Africa while majority among Africans (Kenyans) live in a poverty lines.
CAUSES OF CONFLICT
The conflicts discussed in this novel have been as a result of the following reasons:
- Betrayal: This has shown on the way Jacob assumes a betrayal to Africans to the extent that different enmity among them grew steadily.
- Poor/bad leadership or government. in the book, the author has shown that the British colonial government was too dictator, oppressor and exploiter to Africans, hence Africans have to resist against the system.
- Presence of lasses. This is to say, the rich and the poor blame one another. In the novel, the author has shown that there is a very big gap between Africans and the whites. Africans led by Ngotho work as laborers to earn their living while the whites led by Mr. How lands exploit the Africans.
- Violation of human rights: In the book for example, the author has shown that Kenyans were killed, tortured and victimized by the whites while are innocent. Good example Njoroge is dismissed out from the school to join the Maumau activist just because his father (Ngotho) is a suspected to be among the Maumau activists. Similarly, Ngotho’s wives (Njeri and Nyokabi) are taken to the detention camp while they never involve in the Maumau war but their husband (Ngotho) is charged for it.
EFFECTS OF CONFLICT IN THE SOCIETY
Any conflict within the society results into the following effects;
- It brings insecurity among the society members to the point of fairing to involve in the whole process of economic development
- It results into sufferings of the masses. Good example is Teacher Isaak who actually lost his job also Njoroge dismissed out from the school
- It results into loss of life. Good example id Jacobo and Dedan Kimathi who were killed as a result of the conflict
- It accelerates into violation of human rights. As seen to many Kenyans are being forced to detention camp irrespective of their neither gender nor age.
Other themes in this novel include;
Colonial rule and Dictator Ship
Mr. How lands and Jacob are dictators. They use force on the natives who attempt to protest against the colonial government. The family of Ngotho is victimized in order to safeguard the well being of the white man and his farm/ wealth. The natives are tortured by the police officers in order to make them confess to have taken the oath some of the natives are quite innocent of what has taken place.
The Mau Mau fighters are seen fighting for a chance in the country. They organize protests and revenge against the white men. People are sacrificing their life so as to bring change in the society. The freedom fighters are patriotic to their country and society in general.
There is fear among the natives because they are not sure of their safety. A state os emergency has been announced. People are killed here and there. Jacob, Mr. How lands, Nganga, the barber Isaka and many others lose their lives unexpectedly. The presence of curfew and detention camps shows that the life was not secure. E.g.: Ngotho is beaten and died.