A Grain of Wheat Summary
A Grain of Wheat chronicles the events leading up to Kenyan independence, or Uruhu, in a Kenyan village. Gikonyo and Mumbi are newlyweds in love when Gikonyo is sent to detention. When he comes back six years later, Mumbi has carried and given birth to his rival's child. Instead of talking about their trials, a wall of anger separates them. Mumbi's brother Kihika, a local hero, is captured and hanged, and his comrades search for the betrayer. Mugo becomes a hero through leading a hunger strike in detention, and the town wants him to become a political leader. Mugo, though, struggles with guilt and ultimately confesses that he betrayed Kihika. At the beginning of the novel, as independence approaches, several visitors come to Mugo's door. They ask him to speak at the Uruhu celebration and become a leader, and also ask if Kihika mentioned Karanja, a worker for the white... Synopsis
Originally published in 1967, Ngugi's third novel is his best known and most ambitious work. A Grain of Wheat portrays several characters in a village whose intertwined lives are transformed by the 1952-1960 Emergency in Kenya. As the action follows the village's arrangements for Uhuru (independence) Day, this is a novel of stories within stories, a narrative interwoven with myth as well as allusions to real-life leaders of the nationalist struggle, including Jomo Kenyatta. At the centre of it all is the reticent Mugo, the village's chosen hero and a man haunted by a terrible secret. As events unfold, compromises are forced, friendships are betrayed and loves are tested.
At a glance:
• Author: Ngugi wa Thiong'o
• First Published: 1967
• Type of Work: Novel
• Type of Plot: Social realism
• Setting: Kenya
• Characters: Mugo, Gikonyo, Kihika, Karanja, Mumbi, Thomas Robson, John Thompson • Genres: Long fiction, Social realism, Novel
• Subjects: 1950's, Africa or Africans, Revolutionaries, Blacks, Colonies or colonization, Revolutions, England or English people, War, Farms, farmers, or farming, Great Britain • Locales: Africa, Kenya
When the British colonizers come to Kenya, they strengthen their hold on the territory by building a great railroad. Waiyaki and other warrior leaders took up arms against this imposition, but they were defeated. Most Kenyans gradually learn to make accommodations with the new regime, though the seeds of revolution spread underground in “the Movement,” known to the British as Mau Mau. Among the younger generation are Gikonyo, a well-known carpenter in the village of Thabai, and Mumbi, his wife and one of the most beautiful women in the area. They listen as...
A Dance of the Forests
A Dance of the Forests is one of the most recognized of Wole Soyinka's plays. They play "was presented at the Nigerian Independence celebrations in 1960, it . . . denigrated the glorious African past and warned Nigerians and all Africans that their energies henceforth should be spent trying to avoid repeating the mistakes that have already been made." At the time of its release, it was an iconoclastic work that angered many of the elites in Soyinka's native Nigeria. Politicians were particularly incensed at Soyinka's prescient portrayal of post-colonial Nigerian politics as aimless and corrupt. Despite the deluge of criticism, the play remains an influential work. In it, he espouses a unique vision for a new Africa, one that is able to forge a new identity free from the influence of European imperialism. A Dance of the Forests is regarded as Soyinka's theatrical debut and has been considered the most complex and difficult to understand of his plays. In it, Soyinka unveils the rotten aspects of the society and demonstrates that the past is no better than the present when it comes to the seamy side of life. He lays bare the fabric of the Nigerian society and warns people as they are on the brink of a new stage in their history; independence....
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