Sunday, November 18

PLAY | THIS TIME TOMORROW | ANALYSIS

0


PLAY | THIS TIME TOMORROW | ANALYSIS


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
  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
  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.
  She
is a Widow
. We are told that her husband was
captured and shot like a dog by the Whiteman. 
  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”.
  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
  She
is a Hardworking mother
. She wakes up early
in the morning daily and prepares the soup to sell to the morning customers.
  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.
  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”.
  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?”
  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
  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.
  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
  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.
  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
  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
  She
is not educated
. Wanjiro is not sent to school unlike
her brother.
  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
  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
  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.
  He
elopes with Wanjiro
. Finally Wanjiro
leaves her lonely mother and goes to live with Asinjo.
  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?”
  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,
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  He
is arrested by the police and charged of inciting a crowd to violence and civil
disobedience.
  He
is a City Council officer. He works in the City council in the Health
Department. Pg 46
  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
  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
  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
  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.
  He
is illiterate
. He is unable to tell his age.
  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.
  He
is a shoemaker
. He earns a living by mending shoes.
  He
is willing to move but the government should first show him a place to go.
  He
works as a tinsmith. 
He earns his daily
bread by making and selling water-tins, pangas, jembes, braziers etc
  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
.
  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.
  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.
INTRODUCTION/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.
  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.
  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
.
  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.
  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
  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.
  Filthy
mushrooms symbolises the poor houses/slums
.
Pg 35
  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)
  And
forgive us our sins. We are late for our morning soup. Pg
 45
(referring to the Lord’s Prayer in the Bible)
  Not
a human soul was in sight. Pg 36 (
Meaning no any human
being was present)
  The
terminus normally full of beehive activities was now as quiet as the Kalahari
or Sahara desert. Pg 36
  Njango
and Wanjiro share the floor as a bed. Pg 36
  This
one snores like a pig pg 36
  Asinjo
has eyes like the stranger. Pg 39
  And
such thick lips as big as a mountain. pg 41
  They
shot him dead like a dog. Pg 43
  People
who streamed away in every direction like disturbed safari ants. Pg 44
  They
are herding us out like cattle. Pg 56
  (Wanjiro)
What a heavy load of flesh. Pg 36
  (Human
voices) It was another house of Babel. Pg 44
  (soup)
Our daily bread. Pg 45
  What…what water?
Pg 37
  Cocks crow,
babies cry, and tins clash. Pg 39
o   Bones,
decaying meat, white maggots, tins, paper, broken pots etc. Pg 37
  Tactile
image. (Image of touch)
o   A
smooth skin pg 41
  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
  You
sleep God’s sleep Pg 37
 (sleeping as
though you are dead)
  Njango
you old whore, you know how to milk your men. pg 45
  Dawn
found us there. Pg 37
  Just
now noise is dead in the city. Pg 38
  The
village was waking up. Pg 39
  Fleets
of buses from the country vomited out people … who streamed away in every
direction like disturbed safari ants. Pg 44
  Long
live Uhuru Market Long live Uhuru Market. Pg49
  You
speak to me like that? Do you know who I am? Do you? Pg 40.
  And
such thick lips as big as a mountain. pg 41
  So
black – blacker than the soot on that pot. Pg 41
  Phew!
The smell, Pg 47
  Puuu!
His voice makes me spit Pg 47
  Cock
crowing; chicken cackling. Pg 44
  Run!
Run! Run! quickly. Pg 53
  Police!
The police are coming pg 53
  Hurry
up! Hurry up! Pg 55,56,
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.
  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.
  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;
  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.
  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.
  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
  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
  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
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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
  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.
  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 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:
  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.
  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.
  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           
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:
  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.
  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
  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.
  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
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.
  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
  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
  The
message we get here is that United we stand, divided we fall.
A woman is portrayed in various
positions in this play.
  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.
  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
  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
  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.
  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
  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.
  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
  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.
  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
  All
these are the effects of colonialism in Africa.
  Unity
is very important in any struggle. United we stand divided we fall.
  The
government officers should allocate alternative settlement for the citizens
before they give them eviction orders (notice).
  Tribalism
is an outdated custom so it should be stopped.
  Both
boys and girls should be give equal rights to education.
  The
ruling class should consider the welfare of the masses. (the majority)
  Betrayal
is not good in any society that wants to develop.
  Illiteracy
and ignorance are obstacles and enemies to development. We should fight against
these enemies.
  Classes
in the society create unnecessary conflicts and hinder development of the
oppressed.
  We
should not believe in superstitions and magic power because it is an outdated
custom.
  People
must be aware of their rights and the practical ways to fight for their rights.
  Youths
should listen to the advice given to them by their parents.
  Youths
should not be fooled by the pleasures of the city, but they should fight for
their future.
  You
cannot succeed if you are not working hard.
The book is relevant to most African
countries as shown below;
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.


Share. Twitter Facebook Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr Email

About Author

Leave A Reply