COLOURS AND TERRORISTS OF THE ABERDARE BY NG’ANG’A MBUGUA.
Kavila, Faith Syokau
A Research Project Submitted For Examination in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement for the Award of Degree of Master of Arts in Literature,
University of Nairobi.
This research project is my original work and has not been presented for award of a degree in any other university.
Candidate: Kavila Faith Syokau
This research project has been submitted for examination with our approval as university supervisors.
1st Supervisor: Prof. Wanjiku Mukabi Kabira
2nd Supervisor: Mrs. Judith Jefwa
I wish to acknowledge God for this far He has seen me through, I would also like to appreciate the help of those without whom this work would not have been completed. It may be impractical to mention all of them individually. I am deeply indebted to my supervisors Prof. Wanjiku Mukabi Kabira and Mrs. Judith Jefwa who despite their busy schedule found time to read through my work. Their guidance, suggestions, encouragement and moral support culminated in the completion of this work. I also wish to thank the lecturers and staff of the Department of Literature, University of Nairobi for their support in the course of my study. I appreciate the effort extended to me by Amina Chebet in typing my work. Last but not least I must thank Lawrence Moturi for his financial and emotional support during my studies. I am equally grateful to my daughter Ashley Kinaghua for the understanding and support she extended to me during this study. My gratitude also goes to my mum and the rest of the family for their encouragement, support and prayers.
This research work is dedicated with a lot of love, respect and appreciation to my daughter Ashley Kinaghua for her support during this study .
DECLARATION .............................................................................................................................. ii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .............................................................................................................iii DEDICATION ................................................................................................................................. iv CONTENTS ...................................................................................................................................... v ABSTRACT ....................................................................................................................................vii CHAPTER ONE ............................................................................................................................... 1 Background to the Study................................................................................................................... 1 1.1 Statement of the Problem ...................................................................................................................... 5 1.2 Objectives ............................................................................................................................................... 5 1.3 Hypothesis .............................................................................................................................................. 6 1.4 Justification of the Study ...................................................................................................................... 6 1.5 Definition of Terms ............................................................................................................................... 9 1.6 Literature Review ................................................................................................................................ 10 1.7 Theoretical Framework ....................................................................................................................... 15 1.8 Research Methodology ....................................................................................................................... 19 1.9 Scope and Limitation .......................................................................................................................... 19 1.10 Chapter Outline ....................................................................................................................... 20 CHAPTER TWO ............................................................................................................................ 21 2.1Causes and Effects of environmental degradation in Terrorists of the Aberdare and Different Colours…………………………………………………………………………21 2.2 Introduction .......................................................................................................................................... 21 2.3 The dilemma of Human Wildlife Conflict in Terrorists of the Aberdare. ................................... 24 v
2.4 Consequences of environmental degradation in Terrorists of the Aberdare ............................... 35 2.5 The dilemma of environmental degradation in Different Colours. ............................................... 41 CHAPTER THREE……………………………………………………………………………….57 3.1The author's vision on environmental conservation in Different Colours and Terrorists of the Aberdare…………………………………………………………………………………..57 3.2 Introduction…………………………………………………………………………………...57 3.3 Environmental conservation in Different Colours. ......................................................................... 57 3.3.1 Art and Artistry as a tool for environmental conservation. ................................................... 57 3.3.2 Women and environmental conservation............................................................................... 68 3.4 Environmental conservation in Terrorists of the Aberdare. .......................................................... 70 3.4.1 Education and Environmental conservation. ................................................................................ 70 3.4.2 Solution to Human Wildlife conflict conflict……………………………………………….74 CONCLUSION…………………………………………………………………………………...83 WORKS CITED…………………………………………………………………………………..93
This study examines how Ng’ang’a Mbugua has presented the causes and effects of environmental degradation, human-wildlife conflict and proposed strategies of environmental conservation in contemporary Kenya. It discusses different ways in which the natural environment is degraded as presented in the novel Different Colours and the novella Terrorists of the Aberdare highlighting the relationship between environmental degradation and social, economic and political issues of a people. The research illuminates how human beings are the main cause of environmental degradation through their means of production either for sustainability or for production. The study was guided by Formalism Theory and the PostColonial Ecocriticism Theory. It shows the significance of conserving the natural environment to individuals, communities and the entire nation, but also highlights on environmental conservation as a complicated issue especially in relation to conservation of forests, wild animals and chemical use. Although Ng’ang’a Mbugua has presented the theme of environmental conservation differently in the two works, he seems to suggest that there is an urgent need for people to become more responsible to the environment for the present and the future generations. The research found out that studies on environmental conservation in Literature are still scarce hence a fertile ground for more related studies.
Background to the Study
This study focuses on Ng’ang’a Mbugua presentation of the theme of environmental conservation in Different Colours and Terrorists of the Aberdare. It discusses the correlation between environmental degradation and conservation to the social-economic and political environment in Kenya. The study therefore addresses the problem of environmental conservation through analyzing the issues within the perspective of fiction.
Nebata Sangili in “Shifting Towards East African Ecological Criticism in Oral Literature: An Ecoanalysis of the Maragoli songs” posits that, “nature and people are not independent; symbiotic-kind of relationship exists between them. Destroying nature means a destroyed culture”(1). A people’s way of life is therefore determined by their immediate natural environment. Human beings cannot exist without the natural environment; they rely on it for survival and for production. Traditionally, land was only used for agricultural purposes, strictly in food production and animal rearing, with time though, people have shifted to diversified land use, for example, economic activities, social infrastructure, ecotourism, transport system, among others. Ngugi wa Thiong’o in Literature and society states that “the basis of human communities is the soil, land. Without the soil, without land, without nature there is no human community. Quite apart from anything else, man himself is nature …”(4). Human beings therefore cannot divorce themselves from nature and more specifically land, since they need it for survival. He further sees “literature as a result of conscious acts of men in society both at the writer’s level and community level. The writers reflect tensions, conflicts, contradictions and portray community wrestling with environment to produce the basic means of life; food, clothing 1
and shelter at the same time recreating history (3). Essentially literature is a branch of art that aims to embody everyday community phenomena with and in an imaginary world created by authors.
It’s against this background therefore that the study seeks to examine how a Kenyan Novelist Ng’ang’a Mbugua in his novel Different Colours and the novella Terrorists of the Aberdare presents the theme of environmental conservation with the natural environment as both ‘site’ and ‘symbol’; to portray the social-economic and political issues affecting society, agreeing with Ngugi that work of an artist shapes our attitudes to life through our daily struggles with nature, within community and within ourselves and adds that “those burning issues take place within an economic, political, class and race context” (4).
Ng’ang’a Mbugua therefore expresses his experiences and conception of life having been shaped by the society in which he lives. He converts historical and social truths into a platform for agitating for environmental justice, In other words Ng’ang’a utilizes the theme of environmental conservation to present other important issues. It is of interest to me that he has used nature as a backdrop to raise the social, economic and political issues affecting the contemporary Kenyan. The study examines how the author presents issues of environmental degradation and efforts made to conserve the same, the portrayal of the rich and political class in the society, inter-ethnic reconciliation, and retrogressive cultures with a vision for social change. Ultimately his message echoes Ngugi in the Literature and society in which, he agrees with Karl Marx that “in production, men not only act on nature but also on one another. They produce only in cooperation in a certain way and mutually exchanging their activities” (4). Production is inevitable 2
to human beings and more so at an economic level and in essence men and women need the natural environment and other people in order to do so.
According to Tiiu Speek in “Environment in Literature: Lawrence Beull’s Ecocritical Perspective” literary environmental critics:
are interested in how discursive conventions enable and constrain our contact with environment and place, how much does place inform representations, and how do the means of representations inform our sense of place. They examine significant tropes and myths that shape our environmental imagination and action. Since ancient times European and other cultures have used such universal but also placespecific metaphors as Garden, Wilderness, Virgin Land, Desert, and Swamp to understand and describe their relationship with land and nature. They also speak for human minorities whose exploitation is often closely interlinked with exploitation of nature – the fact that is often concealed in hegemonic naturism. Attempting to discover nature as absence, silence in texts, and construe environmental representation as a relevant category of literary, aesthetic, and political analysis; often in conjunction with a focus on gender, class and race issues in literary texts (160-61).
Environmental issues are therefore a universal human concern regardless of whether the location is in the developed world or in sub Saharan Africa. In the past, Kenyan and Africans communities in general celebrated the sacredness of forests, rivers, waterfalls, and wilderness, often composing proverbs, similes, songs, tales and sayings. Today we read a lot of literature on preservation of the natural environment and the adverse effects of its destruction. As illustrated in the above quote, 3
environmental issues are closely related to the social, economic and political issues of a people. Literary environmental critics therefore illuminate the fore mentioned issues in a work of art whether oral or written.
From 1980s and the early 1990s, environmental issues have occupied a sizable part of the global discussions on caring for planet Earth. Environmental protection is therefore a sensitive issue in the world today. Erratic weather changes have been witnessed in Kenya and the entire world. Critics have argued that human beings are a major contributing factor to destruction of nature through industrialization, farming activities, transport, deforestation, wildlife attacks and pollution hence efforts are being made to conserve the natural environment. A study on conservation of the natural environment and its resources is therefore essential in this pursuit.
Ng’ang’a Mbugua is a News paper journalist and a creative writer. He has written nine titles to his name and has contributed in four anthologies. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Literature and Philosophy degree from Egerton University and has studied editing at the international institute of journalism in Berlin, Germany. He is currently working with the Daily Nation. Three of his works, a novel, a novella and a story book talk about environmental conservation-Different Colours, Terrorists of the Aberdare and Susana the Brave.
Terrorists of the Aberdare is a story about human wildlife conflict and forest conservation while Different Colours is a story about preserving the Natural Environment and ethnic reconciliation (oneness). Susana the Brave is a story about a young woman who turns an arid land to a more productive land through environmental restoration. Ng’ang’a Mbugua has won the Wahome 4
Mutahi Literary award twice in 2010 with Terrorists of the Aberdare which was also got 1st Runner-up position for Jomo Kenyatta prize for Literature in 2011. Different Colours won Wahome Mutahi Literary award in 2012.
1.1 Statement of the Problem
Although issues of environmental conservation are perceived to be exclusive to social sciences and politics, in fact art, specifically literature makes a contribution to this noble quest. Of importance is how literature mediates in the problem between the capitalist need for development and the need to preserve natural environment for its aesthetic value and for posterity. As indicated in the introduction many critics for example Nabeta Sangili, Tiiu Speek, Cheryll Glotfelty have written works on environmental conservation in literature. Of concern to me is Ng’ang’a Mbugua’s contribution to this important issue in his novella Terrorists of Aberdare and the novel Different Colours on the causes and effects of environmental degradation and presented the theme of environmental conservation yet an analysis of his two works has not yet been done. This study therefore seeks to illuminate how Ng’ang’a Mbugua has addressed the capitalist sense of progress against environmental conservation in the novel and the novella. 1.2 Objectives
This study sets out to achieve the following objectives:
To examine Ng’ang’a Mbugua presentation of the theme of environmental conservation in Terrorists of aberdare and Different Colours.
To investigate Ng’ang’a Mbugua presentation of the relationship between environmental conservation to social, economic and political issues.
To discuss language and style of the author in DifferentColours and Terrorists of the Aberdare.
This study is guided by the following assumptions:
There exists a relationship between the social, economic and political environment and the natural environment as presented in works of fiction.
The author makes deliberate use of language and style in presenting the socialeconomic and political issues in Different Colours and Terrorists of the Aberdare.
The author has utilized the theme of environmental conservation to portray how human beings contribute to environmental degradation in contemporary Kenya.
1.4 Justification of the Study
Of important to this study is how Ng’ang’a has presented the theme of environmental conservation and how his choice of literary style in his novels; Different Colours and Terrorists of the Aberdare has aided in the same, agreeing with critic Nabeta Sangili in ‘Shifting towards East African ecological criticism in Oral Literature’ that “ecocriticism tries to evaluate the themes and language as they are used in artistic works. Many literary writers, filmmakers and singers employ linguistic devices that are directly or indirectly engineered out of nature. Metaphors of places, diseases, social relationships and even metaphors of economy are linked on nature and natural surrounding”(1). Recently issues of growing climate change for example, floods, expanding deserts, deforestation, diminishing wetlands, tsunamis, global warming, hurricane Katrina and human wildlife conflicts have raised the importance of environmental conservation in society, this is both at international and local levels.
This research is a contribution to the importance of natural environment in the work of art, as triggered by Gerald Moore’s concern of the importance of the natural environment in East African literature and in Kenyan in particular. The research seeks to address the challenge raised by Gerald Moore by comprehensively studying Ng’ang’a Mbugua’s presentation of the theme of environmental conservation and how the natural environment has aided him in presenting his social, economic and political issues. The study also seeks to elevate the natural environment in literature to the same level as other thematic issues for example gender, identity, poverty, education, and politics. Environmental critics in literature are doing researches and illuminating on the urgency and importance of such studies. The key argument by these critics is that, environment occupies the same pedestal in the society like the above mentioned. To them, environment has a voice and they strive to give it that voice, which has been silent for long or had been ignored in the past.
Cheryll Glotfelty in an article “What is Ecocriticism?” In ‘Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE)’, states that;
the troubling awareness that we have reached the age of environmental limits, a time when the consequences of human actions are damaging the planet's basic life support systems. This awareness sparks a sincere desire to contribute to environmental restoration, not just in our spare time, but from within our capacity as ‘literature scholars’ (my words). We are facing a global crisis today, not because of how ecosystems function but rather because of how our ethical systems function. Getting through the crisis requires understanding our impact on nature as 7
precisely as possible, but even more, it requires understanding these ethical systems and using that understanding to reform them. Literary scholars specialize in questions of value, meaning, tradition, point of view, and language, and it is in these areas that we are making a substantial contribution to environmental issues (1).
In Cheryll Glotfelty view, environmental critics in literature encourage others to think seriously about the relationship of human beings to nature, the ethical and aesthetic dilemmas posed by the environmental crisis, and how language and literature transmit values with profound ecological implications.
Literature can be used as a tool to create awareness and mobilize community members for action. Thus natural environment in literature needs to be viewed with a critical perspective, to capture both the explicit and implicit meanings. In my view Terrorists of the Aberdare and Different Colours measure up to the task of fulfilling a need in the society, that is, in regard to creating awareness on environmental degradation and enlighten the public on the significance
environmental conservation. Ng’ang’a Mbugua has used the natural environment both as setting and symbol of his social, political and economic issues; choosing names of places and people deliberately to present a daring perspective of contemporary social, economic and political issues in Kenya. In my view this area of study is still a fertile ground for literary researches and Scholarly discussions more so in African continent both in Oral and in written Literature. As mentioned earlier, researches on Literature and the natural Environment are still scarce.
1.5 Definition of Terms
The key terms in the study include environment and conservation. Environment is derived from a French word ‘environ’ which means everything that surrounds us. According International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the term environment is “the totality of nature and natural resources, including the cultural heritage and the infrastructure essential for social-economic activities” The UNESCO-UNEP describes the environment as “the aggregate of surrounding things (biotic and a biotic) and conditions that influence the life of an individual organisms of population, including humans”. In this study environment is used to mean the natural components which include the physical; waters and rocks, ecosystems which include plants, animal life, forests, grasslands and deserts that human beings utilize as a means of production or as part of their culture.
Gordon Warrick defines conservation as “the wise use of resources for example wild life and plant species as natural resources. Mark Brohman defines conservation as “ethical management of resources so that they are sustainable and never depleted at a critical level” while Dennis Schroeder gives the definition of conservation as “protecting the natural resources to a sustainable level” This study adopt Gordon Warrick definition that conservation is “the wise use of natural resources” by human beings. These natural resources include wild animals, forests, wetlands, waters and minerals. Environmental conservation is therefore prudent use of the natural resources available to human beings for both productivity and sustainability.
1.6 Literature Review
In the literature review, I focus mainly on academic journals and papers, most of which are electronic. Some of the critics who have analyzed the natural environment in Literature include Nabeta Sangili, Wanjiku Mukabi –Kabira, Antony Vital, and Gerald Moore among others. Nebata Sangili in ‘Shifting Towards East African Ecological Criticism in Oral Literature: An Ecoanalysis of the Maragoli Songs’ states that;
the birth of ecocriticism as a field and theory in literature …was to acknowledge the presence of Mother Nature in all kinds of artistic works. Authors have churned out many environmental literary works ever since the field was conceived. Today there exists a range of bibliography on ecocriticism including journals, books and literary works and nature writers…Generally, the authors speak of the consequences of a shattered environment within the region of East Africa which includes Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda: birds, people, domestic and wild animals die due to massive droughts and related causes, arable lands have been stripped off their fertility and floods run riot in the environment (2).
In his paper, Nabela Sangili has intensively analyzed Maragoli songs on natural environment. He Calls them ‘Green Songs’. Nabeta’s work is a rich study of oral literature. He argues that every society has a culture and a different way of interacting with ecology bringing about different environmental perceptions. In his research he has observed that the songs are created by the natural environment and play an important role of educating her people. In his paper however, he does not fail to mention other critics concern on environmental changes and the consequences more so in East Africa and the need for more researches on the same. My study aims at making a 10
contribution to this focusing mainly on issues of environmental conservation in written literature specifically Ng’ang’a’Mbugua’s Different Colours and Terrorists of the Aberdare. I seek to study the natural environment in relation to social, economic and political issues in Kenya as presented by the author.
Wanjiku Mukabi- Kabira in an article” Storytellers and the Environment in African Women as Environmental Managers posits that “an artist uses the local environment to construct a story more so in oral literature which depends so much on the environment to make its performance complete and entertaining…the woman storyteller preserves the environment through her stories, and the stories can be revisited for use in reconstruction of the environment.” (67) In the stories collected she gives examples of what can be ‘rediscovered’ through storytelling, this includes rediscovery of some foods, herbs, bushes, trees, fruits and some species of wildlife. She further gives the moral lessons impacted to the young audience by the storyteller for example, she says, “Humanity for its own survival must not engage in activities that lead to self- destruction or environmental degradation and that there exists an interdependence between human beings and wildlife for mutual survival” (70-1). The storyteller further warns of fires, droughts and advocates methods of preventing such. In Kabira’s article one cannot fail to see the important role that storytellers play in educating the future leaders on the importance of caring and preserving the natural environment for the present and future generations. Kabira’s research, just like Nabeta Sangili, is on the oral narratives that highlight the importance of the woman in environmental conservation. Whereas Kabira focuses at the woman story teller as one who reconstructs the environment, in my study I look at how writers use stylistic resources available to them to present the theme of Environmental conservation illuminating on Ng’ang’a novel Different Colours and the novella Terrorists of the Aberdare.
Mark B. Feldman and Hsuan L.Hsu in their article “Introduction to Race Environment and Representation” say that:
W.E.D Dubois predicted that the great public issue of the twentieth century would be the problem of colour line. In the century just begun, that problem shows no sign of abating. But ultimately a still more pressing question may prove to be whether planetary life will remain viable for most of the earth’s inhabitant’s without major charges in the way we live now. This was in relation to the living conditions of the Philadelphia Negro, The Philadelphia Negro 1999 analysing the effects of housing conditions on the health, characters and the social environment (199).
Feldman and Hsu reflect on Dubois concern whether human life was going to survive in future due to environmental degradation. It is a highlight that the issue of natural environment was and still is more serious than that of skin colour. This is because it affects everyone regardless of colour, age, gender and the geographical setting. Natural environment plays a major part in the lives of those present and the future generation. The critics’ further point out that race issue has a direct relation to the natural environment. They further argue that “environment and nature cannot be fully understood without accounting for histories of social and racial stratification”. They argue that “Race, Class and gender not only influence distribution and access to private property but also access to protected natural spaces, involving in political decisions that have environmental impacts and exposure to environmental risks” (210). This study by Feldman and Hsu is relevant to our study since they set direction as to how social and political issue can affect the environment by basing their study on race, class and gender in America. In this study we open out more areas of the social, political situation in Kenya in particular at a time when we are 12
witnessing adverse climate change due to environmental degradation, Inter Ethnic clashes, landlessness, poverty, displacement, joblessness and other social political issues. I seek to study the natural environment and its effect on ethnicity and ethnic reconciliation as presented by Ng’ang’a.
In an article “Towards an African Ecocriticism, Post Colonialism, Ecology and Life and Times of Michael K”, Antony Vital sees the importance of developing an African ecocriticism which will reveal both its present and past further portraying the ways in which modernity in African contexts transforms human relations with nature, impacting on societies natural environments and joining a struggle for more equitable, sustainable and healthy ways of inhabiting their place and strengthening historical understanding. He sees the African Ecocrticism unique because it poses African questions and finds answers rooted in Africa. He points some of the problems to having been brought about by modernity brought by 1st world countries and geared towards “globalized Economy” (88). Antony’s discussion is on Africa in general and more specifically South Africa whose political experience is different from the Kenyan context. I seek to make a contribution to this studying Kenyan Ecocriticism.
Gerald Moore on his article “Literature and Environment in East Africa” recognizes the need for a study of literature in relation to environment. He argues that; There is one other feature of our emergent literature to which he would like to draw attention. This is a certain pastoral quality, a gentle love of the field’s attention. A gentle love of the field’s groves and hills and embrace of all living things that walk upon them or grow within them (118).
Moore is proposing reading of East African Literature with an earth centered approach. By basing his study on Ngugi wa Thiong’o The River Between and Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart Moore sees the importance of landscape in influencing the psyche of the inhabitants. In other words Moore presents the other side of the conservation of the environment trajectory as a shaper of human social, economic and political environment. There is a symbolic relationship between human beings and the natural environment.
Moore recognizes the quality of a landscape as having great influence on its habitats psychology. He notes that most novels in Kenya do not reflect any fear of nature. Nature to him has so far been potrayed positively. Moore is positive that Kenyan literature will embrace the importance of environemnt to the people and that young writers will potray this in their writings. As mentioned earlier this study addresses the challenge raised by Gerald Moore by expansively studying Ng’ang’a Mbugua’s treatment of the theme of environmental conservation. This study also seeks to highlight how the natural environment has aided the author in presenting his social, economic and political issues. I am therefore studying what influence the natural environment has been to the characters in the novel and the novella and what impact nature has on them whether positively, negatively or has no impact on them at all. The study also seeks to show what effect moving from one place to another (migration) has on the characters and the social economic and political issues related to the land as presented by Ng’ang’a Mbugua. Joni Adamson and Scott Slovic in their article “The shoulders We Stand On and Ecocritics: An Introduction to Ethnicity and Ecocriticism” furthers Buell’s classification of ecocriticism as ‘first wave ‘and ‘second wave’ and argues that;
The new third wave of ecocriticism recognize ethics and national particularities yet transcends ethnic and national bounderies;this third wave explores all the facets of human experiences from environmental point of view… to bring to attention the ways in which environmental degradation and hazard inequality affect poor people and people of colour (6-7).
Joni Adamson and Scott Slovic’s study is on the history of ecocriticism and how it’s linked to other social political issues in the western world, my study however, focuses on environmental degradation and conservation in relation to other social economic and political issues in contemporally Kenya with specific interest to people living in rural areas. Ursula K.Heile in “Ecology and Empire” describes nature as an economic resource lingered in the background of post colonial Literature. He adds that “Ecocriticism has not only vastly expanded its canon of texts under the impact of post colonial scholarship, but also investigated in far greater depth how colonialism has shaped certain forms of nature appreciation and what kinds of economic structures and human labour go into exploitation as well as the conservation of nature” (5-6). His study shows a link between post colonialism and its effects and ecocriticism. My study comprehensively focuses on Post colonial ecocriticism in Ng’ang’a Mbugua Different Colours and Terrorists of the Aberdare highlighting its effects both on the natural environment and on the characters as presented by the author.
1.7 Theoretical Framework
My research is guided by Formalism Theory and Post-Colonial Ecocriticism Theory. Formalist Literary theory has two strands: the Russian formalism whose main proponents include Vladimir
Prop, Roman Jakobson, Viktor Shlovisky among others and New criticism whose major proponents include T.S Elliots, Cleanth Brooks, F.R. Leavis and Allen Late among others. My research has adapted the insights of Ivor Armstrong Richards who argues that a theory in criticism must offer both a theory of ‘value’ and a theory of communication. His arguments are based on the assumptions that poems or Literature communicate value grounded in the conflicting ‘impulses’ in the experiences of the poet (Bressler 52). In other words formalism recommend for the interpretation of the authors language and the use of style through identifying the themes and what the writer is saying, and the meaning that is being communicated. Formalism is therefore a critical approach that aids in analysing, interpreting and evaluating a text. It helps in analyzing the stylistic choices that the writer uses in representing issues and to pass a message in a particular text. The theoretical approach focuses on the literariness of a text; it also focuses on the structural elements of a work of art for example its language and the underlying tone and tropes that the writer uses. It helps the critic to intensively examine the relationship between form and meanings in a work of art; of particular interest to me are the stylistic elements used by the author for example symbolism, monologue, metaphor, irony and hyperbole. The formalist approach gives me freedom to interprete the stylistics devices used by Ng’ang’a Mbugua in the novel and the novella.
Formalism is beneficial to this study because it helps in defining the literary work in terms of its form and structure that is, the texts literariness and the language used in the text” ( Bressler 51). It guides in the interpretation and evaluation of the language used in the novels, the stylistic elements like imagery, symbolism, dialogue and flashback among others that the author has used to highlight the thematic concerns in the novel and the novella. 16
This aids the study to draw close scrutiny to Ng’ang’a Mbugua’s two works with an aim of accounting for the use of style by identifying the themes and what the writers is saying and the meaning that is being communicated.
According to Tiiu Speek,
Post Colonial Ecocriticism is a strand of Post colonial Literary Theory that focuses on the relationship between Post colonialism and Environmental issues. It studies humans and their relationship to nature after colonialism. The theory aids in reading texts with an earth centered approach. The influence humans have on the natural environment and how the same influence impacts on human beings. Post colonial Ecocriticism further analyses post colonial situation with regard to place and displacement (159) This is helpful in interpreting historical and authorial concerns in my study since it gives voice and also “speaks for the minority whose exploitation is closely linked to nature’’ (159). Speek adds that the theory seeks to “construe environmental representations as a relevant category of literary aesthetics and political analysis often in conjunction with a focus on gender, class and race issue in a literary text” (161).
The theory investigates “how colonialism has shaped certain forms of nature, its appreciation and what kinds of economic structures and human labour go into exploitation as well as the conservation of nature” (290).
The theory guides in analyzing how characters in different social class behave and treat those from different classes and how the ‘other’ is being treated agreeing with Noel Lazarus that the post colonial theory pays special attention to vocabulary like ‘periphery”, “otherness”, “subordinate” and “minority” in explaining relationships. 17
Ecocriticism is a literary critical approach, a strand of Post Colonial Literary Theory that studies the relationship between literature and the physical environment (Barry 248). Its proponents include William Ruckert, Cherlyll Giofelty and Harold From among others. It has two strands, the USA one which began in 1980s and the UK one which began in the early 1990s. Initially it celebrated nature, the life force and the widerness (USA) who prefer the name ecocriticism. The U.K call it green studies where it’s variant tends to be more minority seeking to warn us of environmental threats enamanating from governments, industrial, commercial and neocolonial forces.
To ecocriticism , “nature really exists, out there beyond ourselves not needing to be ironised as a concept by enclosure within knowing inverted commas, but actually present as an entity which affects us, and which we can affect, perphaps fatally if we mistreat it” (Barry 252). Through their contact with the natural environment the characters created in the novel and the novella affect nature in different ways either positively or negatively, leading to either environmental advantages or disadvantages which in return also affect them differently, directly or indirectly depending on age, race, gender and class, Ecocritics therefore view nature as largely shaped by human beings through their interaction with it, agreeing with Bennett Michael in “Different Shades of Green” that “ the main Ecocritical suspicion of the theory is rooted in the claim that we can know the world only through its textualization and especially through the Cultural, Political, Social and
scientific discourse” (208-9). Ng’ang’a Mbugua’s presentation of the
environment in Terrorists of the Aberdare and Different Colours aid in presentation of the correlation between natural resources to social, economic and political issues affecting the contemporary Kenyan more so in the rural set up.
1.8 Research Methodology
The research is carried out through close textual reading of Ng’ang’a Mbugua’s Different Colours and Terrorists of the Aberdare analysis and interpretation of the novels is within the theoretical framework mentioned above. Close textual reading is helping the study in identifying themes, language and style used by the author in his depiction of his artistic ideologies. The study further examines how the author has developed characters, their interaction with one another and their day to day challenges. In addition, I seek to investigate the relationship between environmental conservation and social, economic and political issues.
Reading of relevant secondary materials has enabled me put my case forward. This in the view of other literary scholars since my study is literary. I have studied relevant journals and reviews as a source of knowledge important in my research using the internet to access e-journal related to my field of inquiry. In addition I have conducted library research to get books and relevant literature, carried out a face to face interview with the author, emails and telephone conversation have also been important, since they have aided in a better understanding of the issues presented by the author.
1.9 Scope and Limitation
My research focuses on the novel, Different colours and the novella Terrorists of Aberdare as my primary texts. Of importance is Ng’ang’a Mbugua’s artistic presentation of the theme of environmental conservation, Its relationship to social, economic and political issues and how language and style has aided him in putting his case forward. My research has also benefited from secondary sources such as e-journals and book reviews. Any other related materials to my area of interest have been beneficial to me. 19
1.10 Chapter Outline
In Chapter one, I have included the introduction, the statement of the problem, the objectives, hypothesis, justification to the study, definition of terms, literature review, theoretical framework, the methodology and the scope and limitation to the study.
In Chapter two, I have discussed Ng’ang’a Mbugua’s presentation of the causes and effects of environmental degradation in Terrorists of the Aberdare and Different Colours in relation to social, economic and political issues in contemporary Kenya. The chapter pays close attention to how the author has utilized language and style to show the various reasons for environmental degradation.
Chapter three examines different ways in which the environment can be conserved as illustrated by the author in the novel and the novella. It discusses the elements used by the author to enhance environmental conservation, highlighting on various strategies that are key to environmental conservation in Ng’ang’a Mbugua’s two works.
The conclusion summarizes how the author has presented the theme of environmental conservation in Terrorists of the Aberdare and Different Colours. The findings demonstrate that environmental conservation is a challenge and that there is in deed a correlation between environmental degradation and social, economic and political issues further highlighting that language and style have majorly contributed to the author’s presentation of the theme of environmental conservation.
2.1 Causes and Effects of environment degradation in Terrorists of the Aberdare and Different Colours.
In this chapter I start by giving a synopsis of the novella Terrorists of the Aberdare and the novel Different Colours. I discuss the causes and effects of environmental degradation analyzing the artistic style used by Ng’ang’a Mbugua to present his ideology since “Literally texts are build out of words. The author therefore consciously chooses words and literally features that define artistry of his or her work. Peck and Coyle argue that “the style of the text is always appropriate to the subject” (161). My focus is mainly in the Kenyan context since the geographical setting of the two works is Kenya. I thus seek to illuminate the social and the economic issues in relation to environmental degradation in the Kenyan context. Through literature, whether oral or written, artists have strived to educate the society on the causes and effects of environmental degradation as illustrated in the Literature Review since literature is a tool for education. Ng’ang’a Mbugua in his fictional works Terrorists of the Aberdare and Different Colours highlights on environmental conservation, pointing at different ways in which human beings interaction with the natural environment has contributed to its degradation and the consequences faced by men, women animals and the natural environment. In the discussion, therefore, I highlight the causes and effects of human, wildlife conflict hence the consequences caused by human beings encroachment on natural resources such as forests and wetlands. It is however important to note that even though the developed World has been active with issues of environmental conservation, it can still be seen to be insincere, due to capitalism, individualism and modernization, which have greatly contributed to environmental degradation in the third world countries more specifically in Africa. 21
Capitalism, with its prominence on individual entrepreneurship and commercialization, as adapted by some African elites, has greatly contributed to adverse effects on the environment such as global warming, soil erosion, floods, disappearance or reduction in wetland, drought and desertification, with devastating consequences in the underdeveloped countries like Kenya for example. Men or women are therefore in conflict with the natural environment through their means of production.
According to Nabeta Sangili environmental issues have greatly been focused on from the 1980’s and 1990’s. This is because of the erratic whether conditions experienced in most parts of the universe. People’s interaction with the natural environment both for production and survival is seen as a major contributing factor to environmental degradation. Many critics have argued that environmental degradation is caused by men or women through their daily interaction with the natural environment, hence a “man- made problem”. According to Julia Ojiambo in a foreword in Groundwork: African Women as Environmental Managers, environmental degradation is a manmade problem. Human beings, out of necessity, must utilize environmental resources in order to survive. Cases of global warning, prolonged drought, and floods were unheard of in the past. Today they have become the norm both locally and internationally. In Kenya for example, people have been experiencing prolonged droughts leading to lack of food, this include some parts of Eastern and Northern Eastern provinces. Of late floods are causing havoc in different parts of the country; this has been experienced as late as April 2013. Many people have lost lives and scores of others have been displaced in some parts of Rift Valley and Nyanza provinces. Landslides have also been experienced in the hilly areas like Limuru and Murang’a. Deforestation has done a lot of havoc to water catchment areas. Effects of Environmental degradation are therefore felt both locally and globally with the worst experienced in developing countries. It is a wake up call to 22
humanity both at an individual, national and international level to stop degrading the natural resources since it results in “an imbalance in our ecosystem, which may affect not only the earth, but also the surrounding atmosphere” (Ojiambo).
Terrorists of the Aberdare is a story about Sonko Wakadosi, a man at his prime age but living in extreme poverty before his death. The novel is set in a rural area, in Kinangop. It is a humorous story of different people’s nasty encounter with different wild animals such as elephants, hyena and crocodile as they posthumously engage in a dialogue while symbolically waiting for the gates of heaven to open. It is mainly a story about Sonko Wakadosi’s encounter with the elephants popularly known as the Terrorists of the Aberdare. The story illuminates on his life’s journey from a young boy joining school, losing his father at a young age and his mother being sent away from home after his fathers death by her in-laws thus forcing Sonko Wakadosi to quit school and seek employment to support his siblings, to an adult, working hard to support himself and to start a family. Though Sonko Wakadosi is a hard worker fate seems to be against him through out his entire life. However hard he works he does not seem to succeed in his endeavors. In the story, Sonko Wakadosi is not the only character who gets killed by the wild animals. A Maasai man is killed by a hyena while in his house and a young girl by a crocodile as she goes to fetch water in River Tana. The killings happen regardless of gender, age, tribe or geographical location. The wild animals not only kill but they also destroy property in people’s shambas and in their homes. Sonko Wakadosi post humoursly narrates the sad story of his death. He had been killed by elephants from the nearby Kinangop forest that had raided their cabbage farm one fateful night. It is at Sonko Wakadosi’s funeral that the narrator (his former friend, Doe Madirari) through flashbacks narrates to the reader the love story between Sonko Wakadosi and Penina that 23
to a larger extend contributed to his death. A story within a story helps us understand the beginning of the conflict between the people of Kinangop and the wild animals in the Aberdare forest. The elephants presented in the novels terrorize and cause havoc to residents, farmers and their crops and in extreme cases kill those trying to stop them from eating the crop or those who try to interfere with them. Terrorists of the Aberdare is a story narrated by Doe Maridari in first person point of view.
2.3 The dilemma of Human Wildlife Conflict in Terrorists of the Aberdare. Ng’ang’a Mbugua in Terrorists of The Aberdare presents the causes and effects of human wildlife conflict following several deaths that have been caused by various wild animals both in Kinangop and outside the region. Since death is a social issue it translates to loss of some members in a family set up and in extension the community. It is at the burial of Sonko Wakadosi that the author illustrates to the reader the intensity of human wildlife conflict in Kinangop. The reader is further made to understand that such deaths have not only been happening in Kinangop but also in other parts of the country as well. Ng’ang’a exemplifies this further through a posthumous dialogue between the Maasai, the protagonist and a young girl. “It was not a lion,” the man said bitterly. Clearly he did not wish to discuss the matter. Sonko Wakadosi could see that it embarrassed him.
“You do not need to speak about it if you don’t want to” he told his friend “personally I was killed by a herd of elephants. I know there are more painful deaths but I would never wish it on anybody.”
“What has gotten into these animals? I was in my Manyatta waiting for my wife to bring my evening meal when a Nyang’au (hyena) came to my room” (7). 24
The rhetorical question by the Maasai on one hand helps the reader understand that human wildlife conflict is a recent phenomenon; it is in his tonal voice that the reader realizes shock, agony and deep distress. His age helps the reader further realize the relationship between human beings and wild animals was different in the past. The Maasai lifestyle and culture gives more credence to the authors point since culturally Maasai’s are nomads, they move from place to place looking for food and water for their domestic animals therefore, encountering wild animals is normal. The use of a “nyang’au” or hyena on the other hand is symbolic of the greed in the wild animals. They are not satisfied with the food in their natural habitats but want to eat what belongs to humans and in worse situations, the human beings. The three characters are symbolic. They represent a bigger problem in the country which is either documented or undocumented. They symbolize the many victims of human wild life conflict in the country. It is therefore in order for the men and women to react when no other option is available. A good example is the attacks on domesticated animals in Kitengela where the public, people of the Maasai community killed four lions.
The old man embarrassment in discussing about the cause of his death clearly indicates that its against the culture of the Maasai people for someone especially a man who was once a warrior(since it is a right of passage in their culture) to be killed by a wild animals worse still a hyena. On one hand, the Maasai has been imasculated and portrayed as weak which is ironical since Maasai’s are known for their courage and strength. The man on the other hand could also have been attacked due to frail health and old age. Through the dialogue we realize there had been prolonged drought and famine in the region.
A young girl is presented as another victim of wildlife attack. She had gone to fetch water when a crocodile attacked and killed her in River Tana. The attack on the young girl further exemplifies the greed by the wild animals. It demonstrates on how the human wildlife conflict is not only caused by human beings but wild animals as well. The girl in question had gone to the river early morning for a natural resource very important for survival to humanity. The author is no doubt highlighting on how innocent people fall victims of wildlife attack in the country. Social responsibilities of women are presented through the young girl by her performance of a domestic chore, fetching water.
Through flashback the author highlights on the causes of this behavioral change both in the wild animals and the human beings since in the beginning people and the wild animal lived together in harmony. Human beings used land as a means of production only occasionally hunting small game for food to echo Wanjiku and Nzioki that “agricultural production and wildlife management are closely related…,” (24). It is however important to note that human beings need for survival and sustenance has interfered with the natural habitat (home) for wild animals through destruction of forest covers in the quest for expansion of agricultural land and encroachment on water catchment areas whose importance cannot be under estimated. This to some extent has been caused by growth in human population therefore need for more land for both production and settlement.
Of important is how Ng’ang’a Mbugua has highlighted the poor as more vulnerable to human wild life conflict than the rich which threatens theirs and their families livelihoods. Human wild life conflict further affects both their economic and social condition. This is exemplified through the protagonist Sonko Wakadosi whose death was caused by a herd of elephants that invaded his 26
cabbage shamba and destroyed everything they had achieved after working so hard. His quest for money, extreme poverty and his love for Penina all social issues lead to his nasty encounter with the elephants. It is humorous how Sonko Wakadosi single handedly wanted to fight the herd of elephants. Sonko stood on their way out of desperation to fight for what he had worked hard to achieve only for the elephants to attack when the cabbages were ready for the market. He had spent money, time and energy only to loose it all in one night. Fate was also against him. Sonko Wakadosi is a symbol of majority of the Kinangop people who are poor and vulnerable. Poverty is therefore presented in the novella as a contributing factor to environmental degradation. The poor encroach on natural resources like forests in search of firewood, building materials, building and farming space and to hunt for wild animals whose meat they use to supplement their diet since some cannot afford to buy meat. Hunting in some communities is also part of their culture. Encroachment on these resources has its effects both on the human beings, the wild animals and the natural environment as well. On one hand this endangers those involved and on the other hand decreases the wild life population in the country therefore negatively affecting the countries economy.
Through the area Member of Parliament, Nyoks Ndarafufua, the author has presented human wildlife conflict as a problem created mainly by human beings. His openly telling the public (mourners) at the funeral of Sonko Wakadosi that their problems with the wild animals have been caused by them exemplifies this. The Member of Parliament uses direct speech to give immediacy to the problem.
Let us admit that we too are to blame for some of the problems that have bedeviled us… For many years, we have been cutting down trees in the Aberdare forest to burn charcoal 27
and because we want more land to plant our crops…We have been cultivating maize and potatoes on river banks for years, and in the recent past, those rivers including Maji Mazuri which is not far from here have been drying up gradually (83). Nyoks Ndarafufua personifies the problem for clarity. It is definite that he understands what he is talking about, for he lives in Kinangop therefore he has definitely observed the people’s way of life. Since he is one of them he knows their culture, a culture which he also shares. Being part of them is what makes his message more authentic. By use of rhetorical questions he challenges the people by asking what the wild animals would eat if they devastate the natural vegetation from which they get their sustenance and further questions on the reason as to why the wild animals attack human beings and yet they had lived with them peacefully for a long time in the past. He highlights the main reason for wildlife attack as deforestation due to need for settlement land and farming. Nyoks Ndarafufua statements clearly indicate that human beings have contributed in breaking the symbiotic balance that existed between people, wild life and the natural resources. The Member of Parliament however seems ignorant of the fact that the wild animals too move from their natural habitat to human territory in search of food and water and therefore create the hostility between them and humanity since they eat and destroy crops, maim and kill domesticated animals and people. Another reason for this conflict between wild animals and human beings is because “spaces left for wild animals are diminishing and communities and wild animals are competing for dwindling resources” (Kiprono 11). The area Member of Parliament, Nyoks Ndarafufua further points to the government irresponsibility as a cause for wild life attacks on human beings. It is ironical that despite the government awareness of the conflict between the wild animals and human beings consequently 28
its effects on people and their
property as Ndarafufua points out “…spreading fear and
trepidation without let, breaking into peoples home without abandon, killing ,maiming and destroying livelihoods. And not a word has been said about taming ... And yet we have a government!” (13) The author is no doubt satirically exposing the government’s failure to tame and maintain the wild life in their natural habitats. Through the area Member of Parliament’s voice the author is pointing out at the government’s failure to demarcate the wildlife habitats like forests and other natural resources. He seems to say that the animals move to people’s compounds for they have no boundaries to keep them in their territory. Lack of proper demarcation is pointed as another reason why human beings also interfere with forests. Putting up a fence will consequently create another problem more so to some of the communities whose culture entails hunting of small game for food, their culture will be eroded. Fencing and strict laws will not only affect those who have depended on forests and the wild for small game for nutrition and as part of their culture but also, the poor women who have relied on forest for firewood, charcoal burning, not forgetting the herbalist who depends on the forest for plants that have medicinal value and those who take their domestic animals to graze in the same forests. According to the Kenya’s economic survey of 1998, “93.5% of rural house holds use wood fuel as a source of energy, while in urban centers 30.3% of the households use charcoal for cooking and heating. Over 70% of domestic energy is in the form of wood and charcoal.
By personifying the wild animals the author presents them as seeking revenge on man for poaching, hunting, killing and interfering with their natural habitats. Humans have been, felling trees for firewood, charcoal burning and timber production therefore reducing forest cover on one hand and for crop production on the other hand. This has lead to imbalance in the ecosystem leading to lack of food and water since forest destruction inevitably affects water catchment areas. 29
Rapid growth population of a people has had a major part to play in forest reduction since people are cutting trees and reducing forest covers to create space for buildings either of homes or offices, a good example is the Karura forest during Moi’s regime where some of the land was allocated to individuals, creation of industries and clearing of large parcels of land for farming like in Mau Narok is another reason why individuals are encroaching into forests. Natural water sources have not been spared either. Industrial wastes from industries are directed to this waters leading to endangering of water animals and causing death to others, growing of hyacinth has become a menace in Lake Victoria. This has been caused by water pollution. Ng’ang’a Mbugua exemplifies this through Penina’s refusal to go work in the flower farms in Naivasha where chemicals sprayed seep to the waters thus endangering the water species. The above mentioned reasons are effects of individualism and capitalism.
Some species have been endangered due to poaching and killings of some wildlife species, the government and the media have been at the forefront in educating its citizens on the dangers and consequences of degrading the natural environment. The wild animals in the Aberdare National park and especially “Kanyuaji” a symbolic name given to the leader of the herd of elephants because of its behaviour are therefore reacting to human greed. In the novella Mari Mari, Swahili name symbolizing wealth, has however, acquired his wealth illegally. Mari Mari is a personification of many who have accumulated their wealth through poaching an illegal activity in Kenya and in the whole of the African Continent. Many have been arrested for elephant tusks and rhino horns. Mari Mari is not spared either, he “was arrested for poaching after he was found with a rhino horn and hides of other wild animals, including one from a buffalo” (52). Economic gain and individualism has therefore led to human wild life conflict in Kenya and third 30
world countries. Poaching has its consequences, it reduces wild life numbers and in extreme cases leads to extinction of others. I agree with Muriithi Ndegwa, The Managing Director Kenya Tourism Board, that in Kenya “poaching remains a great threat to continued survival of many endangered species and is thus a great threat to tourism” (26) in Kenya . Though some poor communities hunt small game for food in an attempt to improve their diet or as part of their culture which has been passed on from generation to generation, as earlier mentioned, others hunt for economic gain. Some critics have argued that “early intervention to protect wildlife and forests were made to secure them for the benefit of colonial elite. Colonial conservation legislation in many cases a reaction to the depletion of hitherto abundant game and forest resources of these areas by white people” (Murombezdi 27). Colonialism and neocolonialism has adversely contributed to decline and near extinction of some animal species due to ready black markets for the animal products such as ivory and skin. Colonial culture on poaching has also been passed on to a few elites in third world countries and in Kenya in particular. In African traditions, killing of wildlife was only done as a necessity either for food or for some wild animal products needed for survival. Only the kings and elders could wear hats or skins from wild animal products therefore, the number of wild animals killed was minimal in comparison to today.
Effects of wildlife encroachment on human beings territory can be witnessed in the novella through farmers who spend sleepless nights guarding their cabbages and other crops from marauding herds of elephants from the nearby Aberdare forest. Cases of the elephants causing havoc in many farms in Kinangop are highlighted; a good example is when the elephants invaded on Firifiri farm. The author juxtaposes how Mategwa Kunona, a rich farmer and SonkoWakadosi, 31
a poor farmer confronted the wild animals on two different nights. The rich are portrayed as using guns which symbolize money and power. They also use fire crackers to scare away the wild animals, through their power and influence they are in direct communication with the Kenya Wildlife Services while the poor use flash lights and beat up containers to scare the wild animals away. Consequences of using ineffective methods are seen through Sonko Wakadosi death and eventual destruction of his and Madirari cabbages which are almost ready for the market. The juxtaposing of Wakadosi’s farm with Mategwa farm further helps the reader to understand that when natural catastrophes strike, it is the poor in the society who suffers the most. The author is therefore demonstrating on the inequality between the rich and the poor in society and consequently the class difference. “So on the ill fated nights the elephant smelling the ripe avocados from a distance, decided it was time to feast. They trooped to Mategwa Kunona’s ranch in large numbers…By morning the herd had not left…” (57). Despite the fact that the elephants stayed for a week in Mategwa Kunonana’s sambas the magnitude of the loss caused was worse on Sonko Wakadosi in comparison to his. Both farmers have been given symbolic names. Sonko Wakadosi’s name symbolizes the irony of life since he is extremely poor; his fathers name Wakadosi is also ironically given since the young man comes from a poor background. Mategwa Kunona is a symbol of richness, Kunona is a Swahili word that means being fat. In the novella he has been presented as a powerful man who has immersed a lot of wealth. In both cases the author has therefore employed analogism that is, coinage of word from either English or Kiswahili to help create humour and symbolize his character.
The wild animals attack causes financial loss to the farmers, whether through destruction of crops in the shamba or ready crop for the market like the tomatoes Shufa Nandefe was taking for sale. Mama Pima, the local brewer is not spared either; her name suggests the kind of brew she sells. 32
Kanywaji is presented as visiting Mama Pima the first Saturday of every month to drink his share of the busheshe.This is both symbolic and humorous. This behavior is the reason for his name Kanywaji a sheng word for alcohol.
As they all say, a habit is a disease. And so the elephant made a habit to be coming down from mountain ranges every first Saturday of the month. And every time Mama Pima and her customers heard his footsteps shaking the earth, they knew that it had come for its share of the Kanywaji and they would give way, for the weak instinctively know when to give way to the almighty (49).
The elephant, as mentioned earlier symbolizes power. It is misusing this power to get its way; this shows how those in power oppress the common mwananchi. In the past few months the members of parliament have been using their power to set their salaries at the expense of the tax payer, the Mungiki (unlawful group) had over the years immersed power especially in central Kenya and some parts of Nairobi and the people had no option but to cooperate just like Mama Pima does, She lets the elephant have its way. The fact that the elephant knows the first Saturday of every month creates humour and begs the question whether it is a personification of illegal groups like Mungiki, Alshabaab , the MRC, and especially Mugiki who demand protection fee from business men or women and Matatu operators demanding to be paid a certain amount of money after a certain duration maybe weekly, a fortnight or monthly gaining from hard earned money from poor individuals and reaping where they had not sowed. To a greater extend this also demonstrates how those in power oppress the downtrodden by using them to enhance themselves. This is a clear indication of greed and individualism.
Not only do the elephants drink “busheshe” a local brew but they also destroy crops, kill and maim. The illegal groups have been known to do the same to the powerless Kenyans destroying their property, maiming or killing people using pangas, axes and in extreme cases they use guns. The elephants have symbolically been given the name ‘Terrorists of the Aberdare’ which is also the title of the novella. The title of the story hints at a nation’s insecurity and people living in fear. Its set during an historical time when Mungiki, MRC, Al-shabab, Sungusungu have been terrorizing the common mwanainchi causing fear and uncertainty. The elephants can also be viewed as to stand for the Mau Mau who used to hide at the Aberdare forest during the Kenyan fight for independence. During the fight for independence the Mau Mau were seen as a symbol of fear both to the citizens and the colonialist. On one hand, the elephants represent other wild animal who give farmers and those communities living near or around forests, game reserves and national parks sleepless night since they stray and infest on their farms but on the other hand, viewed from a social context, they represent fear and uncertainty to the public. The wild animals have made the people of Kinangop to live in fear spending sleepless nights watching over their crops just as the young men would run away from their homes and spend sleepless nights in the cold in fear of Mungiki more so in central Kenya. Kenya today is experiencing a lot of insecurity, in the western province, people are killed and houses burned down by unknown assailants , North Eastern is still experiencing the same due to inter tribal wars, the Al-shabab are killing people even during the day. In the novella, Kanywaji the elephant and the leader of his group is said to be avenging his mother’s death which was due to poaching. On a broader context this is symbolic of leaders in Kenya who having been defeated in politics revenge on those who did not vote for them. This can also symbolize bad blood existing between tribes or communities.
2.4 Consequences of environmental degradation in Terrorists of the Aberdare Beside human wildlife conflict, Ng’ang’a Mbugua has artistically presented the consequences of environmental degradation on both human beings and animals (domestic and wild). He has presented the effect on human beings at a social economic context bearing in mind that a culture of people influences their land use, economic advancement and their relationship with wild animals. Poverty and capitalism is a major cause of environmental degradation as expressed in the novella. Lack of resources leads people, especially the poor to farm in forest, cutting trees for charcoal burning and firewood while capitalism on the other hand destroys forest for manufacturing of timber and large scale farming and to create space for buildings. This has caused reduction in forest covers and permanent disappearance of some forests in extreme cases. The above mentioned has had adverse effects on weather and climatical conditions affecting human beings, domestic and wild animals either directly or indirectly.
Of importance is how the author has highlighted the poor as more susceptible to ecological dilapidation which threatens theirs and their family livelihoods. Environmental degradation affects both the financial and social condition of a people leading to hardships since the majority of the poor depend on land for survival. Of late we have witnessed severe droughts and erratic weather conditions all over the globe.
In the novella the author illustrates the changes in environmental conditions highlighting the main cause as environmental degradation. He uses the family motive (a social unit) to build up these issues. Most of the families presented in the novella are poor; a good example is Sonko Wakadosi’s family and Penina’s family. Sonko has to till the land and produce food in order to 35
meet his basic needs and to win his love for Penina, he thus has to make use of the natural environment because;
environmental resources provide the best quality of human life which include fresh air water and food, of this food is perhaps the most important. It is a basic requirement for survival so lack of it presents the greatest and most direct threat to the equilibrium between species and the environment. Food production is an economic activity which takes place within the natural environment sustaining it are land and other natural resources. Many agricultural systems in the tropic are in a state of ecological deterioration. The stability and durability of this system have been threatened thus endangering the continued provision of food. (Wanjiku and Nzioki 21)
The above extract gives credence to Ng’ang’a Mbugua’s presentation of ecological deterioration, Sonko Wakadosi and his friend Doe Madirari endeavor to plant and sell cabbages does not succeed. They are faced with adverse weather conditions and have to spend money on pesticides to prevent frost from attacking their cabbages. He gives example of hot days and cold nights thus showing how frost is destroying crops like maize in Kinangop. A farmer is therefore forced to incur extra expenses buying pesticides which are hazardous to health in order to rescue their crops. Frost and crop attack by diseases is not only in Kinangop but in other parts of the country as well for example in the rift valley and Kitale maize crops have of late been destroyed by afro toxin. The pesticides used further contribute to environmental degradation. Adverse whether condition is a sign of environmental degradation as presented in the novella “One morning after spending half the night waiting for the elephants which never showed up, I woke up to find that the maize that had been green the evening before had turned beige nay, gold over night thanks to the frost” (66). This shows the gravity of ecological degradation in which it is a challenge for the 36
crops to survive the terrible weather conditions all over the country.
Ng’ang’a Mbugua through other characters; Penina and Sonko Wakadosi’s father help illuminate on the effects of environmental degradation as caused by capitalism on poor individuals. He points at the use of herbicides and the effects on individual health. Ng’ang’a Mbugua exemplifies this through Penina who would have found a job in the flower farms of Naivasha, but because she had seen other girls who had worked there put up with the consequences only to return home to die in relation to the deadly chemicals that went into their bodies as they sprayed the roses and carnations she opted not to. Despite the fact that Penina does not have enough education, she knows too well the dangers of working in the flower farms and does not want to risk her life and die due to something she can be able to avert. She thus goes to seek employment in Kericho as a domestic worker. The herbicides further soak into the ground affecting the underground waters and rivers. Cases of fish drying in Lake Naivasha have hit the media houses and the general public because of the herbicides/pesticides used in the many flower farms around the Lake causing imbalance in the ecosystem.
Women are presented as more vulnerable to pesticides and herbicides than their male counterparts. To women, the pesticides or herbicides used in farms cause health problems like skin diseases and breast cancer and also affect their reproductive health. Children are also affected since their immunity level is low. Environmental sicknesses therefore affect the vulnerable communities; the poor, children and women. The poor people are in most cases threatened by environmental hazards as they lack basic resources needed to sustain life.
Use of chemicals therefore is dangerous not only to women’s health but also to poor men who 37
expose themselves while working in most flower farms and other large scale farms where these chemicals are used in order to support their families.
The author is no doubt showing us that chemicals are advantageous and disadvantageous at the same time, Spraying the crops help prevent them from attack by frost and diseases. They negatively affect farmer’s finances since they are expensive to buy and worse still are hazardous to health.
The Maasai in the novella bears witness to the serious effects of environmental degradation that have taken place overtime. Through him the reader is able to realize the differences between the present climate conditions and that experienced in the past; at his age he had not experienced serious droughts in which human beings and animal lacked nothing to eat. The extreme drought killed all his domestic animals therefore causing him a financial loss. The drought can also be viewed as the reason why he has grown weak due to lack of food hence the defenseless attack on him by the hyena as earlier mentioned. Ng’ang’a Mbugua’s presentation of the old man experience in a post humors dialogue gives more authority and credence to the statement. Change in climate has affected the culture of the Kinangop people. Doe Madirari remembers with nostalgia how they used to spend their leisure time when they were young. They could skid in mud when it had rained. Such activities are no longer possible because as he has observed it no longer rains. The Narrator nostalgically compares the climate conditions during his boyhood and at the present time. There has been a great change from the past days to present with the climate conditions deterioration as mentioned earlier. Long dry spells, extremely hot temperatures, loss of fertility in the land, water levels going down as the forest covers reduce. People are also encroaching on wet lands. Farming methods have changed as well as people’s lifestyles. This has 38
led to adverse weather changes. There is increased demand for more productivity; crops that were more ecologically suitable have been abandoned and replaced with fast growing but less ecologically suitable crops. Production is not only geared for food production but for money. Sonko Wakadosi’s cabbage farm is a good example. Mategwa Kunona’s farm products are also for sell. The Narrator does not only give his experience and those of people close to him in Kinangop but also shows his wide knowledge of serious climate conditions experienced in other places as well. This he does through the news paper article that he comes across at the local restaurant.
Through the Narrator, Sonko Wakadosi and the character Nyoks Ndarafufua, Ng’ang’a has effectively presented the effects of human wildlife conflicts citing deforestation as a major cause. It downed on Sonko Wakadosi that the problem facing herdsmen in the plains was the same as those confronting farmers in the highlands all were involved in fatal struggle with wild animals. Only that they involved different species. It has been the same in Kinagop, where elephants had turned into, and raiding people’s farms without abandon. But unlike the hot plains of the Mara, in Kinangop, the dry days gave way to frosty nights and bitterly cold mornings, which withered crops and left man and beast hungry in equal measure (8). In the posthumous quotation above the author is no doubt highlighting on the effects of human wildlife conflict as well as adverse and unfavorable climate condition being experienced in Kinangop and in extension other parts of the country. He is presenting a problem facing the Kenyan people from whichever geographical position. He is thus showing the magnitude of the effects of degrading the environment to human beings as well as the wild animals and educating the public on the consequences on the natural environment. Ng’ang’a Mbugua has no doubt 39
presented human beings as most affected by which that they have caused. In other words human beings have been presented as the main cause of environmental degradation mainly through deforestation which reduces the wild animal’s natural habitat as previously discussed therefore, forcing the animals to migrate to other places including human habitats. This consequently affects the human beings through wildlife attacks. Deforestation also leads to severe and unbearable weather conditions such as drought, expanding deserts and floods as witnessed in the country therefore negatively affecting people’s productivity and survival. The point that the author is trying to make in Terrorists of the Aberdare is that environmental degradation affects both the human beings and the wild animals and that the conflicts witnessed are as a result of a degraded environment. Destroying the natural environment will mean destroying humanity. Ng’ang’a Mbugua has therefore succeeded in artistically presenting the causes and consequences of human wildlife conflict and the environmental degradation. Different Colours is a story about Miguel a landscape painter who sets on a journey from Kusini to go paint a waterfall in Banana County. Miguel is cosmopolitan so upon his arrival in Banana County he encounters a different kind of life from what he had been used to, he however learns to cope as he instills good values to the locals. On his arrival in Banana County he is not fully accepted. The local and especially Dik Teita the richest man in the village view him with a lot of distrust. On discovering that Miguel’s agenda is to paint the waterfall he tries to keep him away by asking him to paint the cattle dip and invite his friend so he could help him sell his pigs online. Miguel however discovers that the waterfall is threatened and is about to be destroyed. He vows to do everything possible to save the waterfall even if it would mean loosing his life. Miguel, Angela his landlady and Derek his friend mobilize the locals in saving the waterfall. Eventually 40
the waterfall is saved from destruction and Dik Teita is discovered to have killed Martin popularly known as Baba Tenge. He is also discovered to have been paying a gang that was aiding him in the crimes in the area. People from Flora and Fauna come in to help conserve the waterfall and to establish a hotel next to the waterfall which would benefit both the local and other communities. In coming to Banana county Miguel finds love and becomes the father figure to Tenge. He also succeeds in painting the waterfall. His artistry saves not only the waterfall but the livelihood of the people of Banana County.
2.5 The dilemma of environmental degradation in Different Colours. Ng’ang’a Mbugua’s responsibility to demonstrate the causes and effects of
degradation is extended in Different Colours through the artist Miguel, the protagonist and most of the residents of Poromoko village in Banana County. Ng’ang’a has artistically presented his ideas through Miguel, the artist. The novel has utilized art and artistry to highlight on the causes and affects of environmental degradation to a people more so those living in rural areas.
Ng’ang’a Mbugua has utilized peoples profession especially art to illuminate on environmental degradation in Different Colours. Through Billy Joe the author gives the reader insights on the effects of environmental degradation. Due to the nature of his work Billy Joe has to rely on cutting of trees for his carvings. Unlike Miguel the landscape painter, Billy Joe is a sculptor. His profession depends on trees; however, he often gets arrested every time he cuts a tree. This leads him to migrate from Banana County as he often finds himself on the wrong side of the law. Though Billy Joe’s intentions are good he is destroying the natural environment. This is symbolic of the predicament that individuals find themselves in when trying to use natural resources to support their livelihoods. Billy Joe’s survival in Banana County is threatened since he has to rely 41
on trees that are suitable for making his carvings, ending up being arrested “by the forest guards would accuse him of destroying indigenous species” (33). This quote highlights the predicament facing forests and especially those that still contain indigenous trees in Kenya. The author is further enlightening the reader on the consequent loss of ecological value if the indigenous trees are cut. It is ironical that despite their importance they are the most sought after and endangered trees in Kenya. This is because on one hand artists produce the best wood carvings from these indigenous trees, enabling them to fetch more money and on the other hand the carvings are more long lasting. Cases of people destroying indigenous forests for timber and charcoal burning are very common in Kenya. One major drawback to the destruction of indigenous trees is that they take a long time to germinate and in extreme cases some species may end up being extinct, cutting them might mean replacing them with less ecologically friendly trees or none at all. The arrests made on Billy Joe alienate him from his family. For him to continue with his career he has to leave Banana County which further alienates him from home and the people he loves who include his girlfriend. This makes him ignorant of what has been happening in his home. A case in question is division of the inheritance by his father. While they are subdividing the land his ‘Maskan’ a sheng word for a small house which gives the novel a social dialect in which Miguel was to live during the painting of the waterfall is destroyed. Even though Billy Joe is uprooted from his home to a foreign area, he still lives with nostalgia reminiscing on the beauty of the natural environment of Banana County. Through dialogue he repeatedly tells Miguel about a magnificent waterfall in Banana County. This is what sets Miguel on a journey to Banana County. To go and paint the magnificent waterfall as described to him. On his journey the impact of the dialogue is evident; through flashbacks Miguel keeps remembering the vivid description of the waterfall as given by Billy Joe until he sets eyes on it. Through the reading of the novel one can’t 42
fail to realize the emotional attachment Billy Joe had towards the waterfall. Miguel also gets emotionally attached to the waterfall even before setting his eyes on it. Billy Joe’s uprootment from the village affects those close to him either directly or indirectly. His leaving home affects the psychology of those closest to him. A good example can be witnesnessed through Juliana the girlfriend. On seeing her best friend Angela and Miguel walking together she is overwhelmed by jealousy. John the waiter views Billy Joe’s departure from the village as running away. This illuminates to the reader the stereotype that artist are subjected to. According to John artists rarely visit homes. Billy’s father longs for his comeback. Upon his return Billy is received with overwhelming joy. On his arrival at Poromoko Inn he is happily received by Juliana and John the cousin. Through the dialogue that follows the reader can’t fail to realize the effects the separation had on Juliana, John and Billy Joe. The excitement is also witnessed once he arrives home.
The vivid description of the natural forests found in Banana County gives us more insight on effects of environmental degradation on Kenyan natural forest. The author juxtaposes the forests found in Banana County with those that have been destroyed in various parts across the country. Clearing the forests leads to aesthetic loss on the natural forests as exemplified by the protagonist; Miguel was gratified to see that the forest had survived the onslaught of men and women whose appetite for firewood and charcoal was insatiable and had led to destruction of forests in other parts of the country. Nothing saddened him more than to see bare hills looking like bald heads especially when it was evident that such landscapes were once populated by wild creatures (15).
Through the protagonist the author is highlighting on various natural forests in the country that have been destroyed and gives various reasons as to why the forests get destroyed. The author is also pointing at the problems caused by forest destruction just he has highlighted in Terrorists of the Aberdare. Ng’ang’a seems to point at loss in aesthetic value that follows forest destruction and
consequent destruction of water catchment areas further leading to soil erosion and
destruction of natural habitats for wild animals as mentioned earlier. The indigenous forests in Banana County have ascertained the flow and presence of water in the River Orange and helped maintain the presence of the waterfall. Destruction of the forest will not only affect the waterfall but will directly affect the people of Banana and the wildlife found in the area. If their natural habitat is destroyed they will have no where to roam causing them to move to humans territory. The author thus gives the reasons for forest reduction in many parts of the country; felling trees for charcoal burning and firewood. The consequences are long term and may affect many a generations. This is similar to what has happened to most forests in Kenya. People have been cutting trees for firewood, charcoal burning and to create space for farming. Many forests are being cleared regardless of the animal species living in them. The author is passing a message to the reader and the general public echoing Wanjiku and Nzioki who suggest that “forests maintain atmospheric balance. They protect water sheds and regulate water flows. They give protection to both soil and water” (23).This helps us realize the consequences of environmental degradation to the natural resources.
Dik Teita is portrayed as the man behind the destruction of the waterfall. The name Dik Teita has been localized through pronunciation, it means dictator in English. His name is characteristic of his behavior. For effectiveness, Ng’ang’a Mbugua has artistically employed a story telling 44
strategy. In the story within a story, Dik Teita is presented as an ogre. In traditional African narratives an ogre is an animal that wants everything to itself. It is a greedy and a selfish animal which never gets satisfied. The ogre in the story therefore symbolizes Dik Teita. It is also a representation of others like him in the society. Dik Teita is a personification of greed, selfishness and crime. His quest for wealth has dehumanized him. Dik Teita is the man behind most of the crimes committed in Banana County including the killing of Baba Tenge (Martin). He has been sustaining an illegal group that is known for drug abuse just like powerful people in the country have been accused of funding the illegal groups in the country. It is ironical that the people of Banana County and especially the women trust him completely. Dik Teita is also a personification of fear therefore the gang he has hired lives in constant fear of him and follow his every instruction to the latter.“He had given them unequivocal orders to go about their work as secretly as possible” (146). Further insight of his character can be seen through torturing of Derek and Miguel before they are rescued by a group of women.
Soon, Dik Teita emerges into the clearing facing the two men. His hair was ruffled and his eyes blood shot with anger. His shirt was crumpled, and as usual, the button near his belly button was undone, exposing a small portion of his bulging pot belly which was so large it concealed his waistline and the thin Kenyatta belt that held his old corduroy trousers in place (198).
The vivid description of his physical appearance is a clear indication of power and wealth that has been achieved through dubious means. Dik Teita greed has dehumanized him to an extent that he is ready to do anything to achieve his objective. He has been presented as taking advantage of the women in the novel. Since they are poor, they are more vulnerable therefore being sexually 45
misused in order to pay their debt. Dik Teita is a cunning character who waits for the debt to accumulate to an extent that they are unable to pay in cash so they can be forced to use their bodies. Banana County people especially the women have been blinded by Dik Teita’s riches to an extent of trusting him and thinking he is not capable of committing any evil. Money and power is what has blinded the people to trust him. He knows this too well therefore taking advantage of their ignorance to carry out his evils; the poor and especially the women have been presented as gullible. At discovery that Dik Teita has been behind the digging of the quarry behind the waterfall, they are shocked and highly disturbed; “It can’t be true” one woman shouted. “He is the richest man in the village. How can he do such a despicable thing?” (200).The rhetorical question magnifies the intensity of the offense. It is at this point in time that they are brought to a realization that, the quarry belongs to him. Dik Teita cover is unveiled and his pretentious nature discovered. Their trust for him dies and they start questioning his integrity. Eroding the trust that the people have had on him is symbolic of diminishing of Dik Teita’s power, fame and fortunes. Dik Teita’s character helps the author to illuminate on capitalism and individualism as a major reason for environmental degradation. It also helps highlight on the advantage that capitalist individuals take on communal and public land.
Dik Teita is a good example of how the rich continue getting rich by using whatever methods at the expense of the poor and the minority in the society. The digging of the quarry will cause the waterfall to collapse. The rocks that are being dug to produce the building stones are the foundation of the waterfall and the Orange River. Destruction of the waterfall will therefore directly affect the women since they rely on the water from the river for their domestic chores. Their domesticated animals too need the water for survival. The young local herd’s boy, Tobby has been given the responsibility of taking care of domestic animals from different individuals in 46
the village; he takes the animals to drink water along the river. He also grazes the domestic animals along the same river. The women’s and their family’s sustainability will no doubt be affected if the waterfall is destroyed. The Banana County women therefore; view nature as sustaining the society. They use the natural environment to enable them to feed their families. Their management practices constitute attempts to adapt to nature with respect and care. To them natural resources are indispensable in their livelihoods and that of their families and society…to them natural resources are not free to be exploited and conquered. They must be maintained to ensure continuity. (Wanjiku and Nzioki 19). The quote shows the importance of natural resources to a woman. In most cases it is the woman who is left with the sole responsibility of taking care and supporting the family by her male counterpart more so in rural areas. Misfortunes like drought, lack of water and floods directly affect the rural woman and her children whom she has to fend for. She has to till the land to produce food for her immediate family, care for the domestic animals if any, look for water and firewood and take the children to school.
Environmental degradation will no doubt affect the woman causing suffering to them and to their immediate and extended families. Environmental degradation will also affect their production and sustainability. The women of Banana County will loose cherished moments they experienced at and around the waterfall in the event of its destruction. Through flashbacks and dialogues many remember how they were courted next to the waterfall. Vu Tabagi the gang leader and a bhang smoker as symbolized in his name, through a flashback helps the reader realize that a culture will be lost if the waterfall is destroyed. Vu Tabagi is a dehumanized character, this can be witnessed through Baba Tenge’s murder and the cruelty he subjects Miguel and Derek, he has not been 47
culturally alienated. Through him we realize that the people of Banana County have preserved their culture through the survival of the waterfall. Many generations before him had their young men go through the right of passage (facing the knife) at the waterfall.Tobby; the village herd boy points to the reader that the art of traditional medicine was passed from generation to generation. It is through his grand father that he learnt of some trees along the river bank that have medicinal value .The plants are only found near the waterfall.
Tobby narrates to Miguel ‘Sister Gloria’s story’. The waterfall helps him “to illustrate ideas and concretize abstractions” (Kabira 67) Since sister Gloria killed herself and her child in the waterfall, the waterfall
helps in the illustration and makes the performance real, giving it
immediacy and truth since it is set on a real geographical and historical setting. The waterfall is associated with myths and legends. For example the freedom fighters are said to have sought refuge at the caves behind the waterfall. The freedom fighters and Sister Gloria are part of history of the people of Banana County. Destruction of the waterfall will therefore lead to destruction of this important part of history. In the event that the waterfall is destroyed this history would become a myth. It will also mean destruction of a culture of the people of Banana. The waterfall also embodies many values and believes. The people of Banana County have even crafted proverbs using the waterfall for example “a visitor is like a river; Always going somewhere, But we are like the waterfall, here to stay” (107). People of Banana County use this proverb to show that foreigners are not fully accepted. This is no doubt a clear indication of its importance; it also symbolizes the permanence of the waterfall in their psyche.
Ignorance and taking things for granted is presented as a reason for environmental degradation. The people of Banana County have taken no responsibility over the waterfall. They actually don’t 48
bother to know what is happening around it until Miguel’s visit to Banana County. On realizing the near destruction of the waterfall, Miguel satirizes their naming the hotel after the waterfall yet they had no idea of what was happening around it, this is what pushes them to act and realize the consequences of their ignorance. The people of Banana County have been ignorant of Dik Teita’s evils until Miguel visit to their County and to the waterfall. Upon his arrival Miguel is prejudiced, he is seen and treated as ‘the other’ this is partly because he has spotted dreadlocks and secondly because he is from a different region. With time though, the people realize his usefulness. The author is therefore negating prejudice based on people physical outlook, their profession and their place of origin. Dik Teita satirizes Miguel’s profession by asking him to paint the cattle dip. This also shows to what extent individualist can go to try and stop those on their way to financial gain. The dream that Miguel has of an encounter with a crocodile as he goes to paint the waterfall not only helps in the development of the plot of the story but is also a premonition. The premonition fore warns the reader that Miguel’s endeavor will not be a smooth transaction. It illuminates on the challenges Miguel is going to face in his endeavor to paint and to save the waterfall. Being equated to a crocodile shows his greedy, unsympathetic character as mentioned above. Just as a crocodile eats what is on its way so does Dik Teita deal mercilessly with those who stand on his way to wealth. Asking Miguel to paint the waterfall is a set back, a ploy to destruct him from his objective; it is also oppressive, senseless and a mockery. Professional prejudice is also witnessed through Miguel’s father who does not fully accept him as his son because he chose the wrong profession yet he was the one who had initiated Miguel to art. He would have wanted Miguel to take art as a hobby but not a career just as many view art today contrary to what it is, a paying profession like medicine, law, engineering to mention but a few.
Digging of the waterfall has placed the men doing it and the people of Banana County in a precarious position. Dik Teita seems not to care either for the waterfall or for all the lives of the people of Banana County who have and still depend on the waterfall and the Orange River for their survival, worse still, he does not think of the consequences that would face those digging the quarry were it to collapse. This hints many who have lost their lives in the mines in Voi, Ngong and other places when this mines collapse. All what Dik Teita and mine owners care about is the money they receive after the selling of the stones or minerals from the quarries. The author is highlighting on Dik Teita’s selfishness and personal interest at the cost of the majority of the people living in Banana County. He only wants to enrich himself at the expense of others and at whatever cost. When Miguel informs Dik Teita of the risk involved in digging the quarry more so to those doing the work he is seemed least interested, he did not seem to care about their life and the risk to their health but only the income their labour would fetch for him. This is a clear indication of his inhumanity. The quote below helps exemplify the point: Those people are in grave danger. The water from the fall could find its way into the cracks they are making in the rocks and this could put their lives in peril. And just so that you can appreciate the magnitude of the problem, both the Orange River and Banana County will be destroyed if the waterfall collapses (141).
At some point Dik Teita threaten Miguel of ending his life just as he did with Martin (Baba Tenge) if he does not stop interfering with other people’s affairs specifically his. This helps create a dramatic irony in the story because the audience has now discovered Baba Tenge’s murderer but ironically Angela the wife does not know. The threat given to Miguel affects him psychologically since he now has to live in fear of Dik Teita and his gang for he clearly knows what they are 50
capable of. It is ironical that, contrally to Dik Teita‘s readiness to do everything possible to silence Miguel and to stop him from interfering with his activities, Miguel is ready to save the waterfall at whatever cost. Two opposing forces seem to be at play, one for the good represented by Miguel and the other for bad as represented by Dik Teita. Through the death of some of the characters in the story, for example, Gloria, her child and Baba Tenge, the reader is meant to realize that not only does the waterfall have good memories but bad ones as well. Baba Tenge’s death is as a result of Dik Teita’s greed. His intention was to outsmart him of the pig business that Martin helped to start. Martin’s money was the capital for the business ironically, Dik Teita sells skimmed made for the same pigs that Martin helped buy to his son, Tenge and the rest of the village children. Dik Teita is symbolically requiting the children and his fellow villagers to pigs. His evilness is extended to innocent children, this further illuminates on the extent of his in humanity. Dik Teita’s reason to continue oppressing his fellow villagers is because he views himself as from an upper and better social class than them due to his money and wealth. To Dik Teita the villagers can eat anything just like pigs because they are poor. He does not seem to care much about their health since they are no better than the pigs in his home. Dik Teita can be viewed as a representation of those individuals who look down upon others and discriminate them because of differences in social class, gender, education, tribe or race. Dik Teita does not give the impression of being bothered about the pain he has caused to both Angela and her son Tenge. Because of the potential he has seen in the young boy he harbors hatred toward an innocent child. Tenge though a young boy inwardly knows Dik Teita is not and can not be trusted, unlike the rest of the villagers.
A symbolic relationship exists between human beings and the natural environment as mentioned in the Literature Review. The two antagonistic mountains Kameno and Makuyu in the River Between by Ngugi Wa Thio’ngo seem to influence the psyche of the people (characters in the novel) just like the water fall in Different Colours by Ng’ang’a Mbugua. Poromoko is the symbolic name given the waterfall. The restaurant in the village is named after the waterfall ‘Poromoko Inn’. Poromoko is a Kiswahili word that means destruction. The name is a premonition of the events going on around the waterfall. Unless the people take action the waterfall will collapse. The local residents often visit Poromoko Inn like on a daily basis; though no much activity seems to be happening its significance in the plot of the novel can not be under estimated just like the waterfall. The gossips of the village are first received at Poromoko Inn. Every visitor to the village first arrives at Poromoko Inn. The Taxi to Banana Market starts and ends its journey at Poromoko Inn. Most importantly the people from Flora and Fauna first arrive at the Inn where they receive first hand information of what was happening to the important waterfall. Were the waterfall to collapse, so would the Inn. It is therefore no wonder that the Inn would still be there even after the proposed building of a tourist hotel. Since there will be some changes around the waterfall so will Poromoko Inn be improved. Though the waterfall has a lot of significance to the villagers, they seem ignorant about it until its near destruction. Though a brief dialogue Miguel brings to (John) the waiter’s attention that, the waterfall is to be destroyed. The below dialogue no doubt shows the extent of their ignorance to what is happening to the waterfall despite their awareness of its importance:
“By the way,” Miguel asked as John turned to walk back into the kitchen. “When was the last time you went to the waterfall?”
“It has been some time,” John replied. “Why do you ask?” 52
“Just curious, “you are the people who live near it and you have even named your inn after it, so I thought you really cared about it.…”
“That waterfall is one of the best things in this village. All our lives revolve around it. We used to swim there when we were boys and women still go there to wash clothes. Some times the occasional tourist passes by and walks there to gaze at it. And they usually stop here for a drink or something”, John replied.
“But how come it is being destroyed and no one is talking about it?” Miguel asked (14445). The dialogue above gives credence to the Bakhtins proposition that the utterance is a social construct, a process of commununication involving the author, the reader and the characters. Through dialogue the characters are able to communicate their basic needs, feelings thoughts and priorities by use of language, so, they are actively involved in active social integration making the novel realistic and lively as illustrated above. From the full dialogue, we can learn the importance of the waterfall to the people of Banana County. The author is also developing the theme of environmental degradation and cultural integration. The dialogue further brings the characters to life creating to the reader an impression of realism. Through John, the author gives an insight to the readers that the waterfall is a tourist attraction in Banana region. The tourists certainly bring business to the village. If the waterfall is therefore destroyed the income generated from tourism will be no more. To a larger extent this is a pointer to the value of natural resources in our country. Natural resources are important to a nation’s economy. Improvement in the economy of a country translates to better life style of a people. In Kenya tourism is the leading foreign exchange earner therefore care on natural resources is paramount. The extent of environmental degradation is highlighted by the scream that Miguel hears after seeing the apparition at the waterfall. The scream is symbolic of a cry for nature. To highlight this 53
further is the metaphors used by Derek while describing the destruction of the waterfall. “There will be a hue and cry when the women get here. They will want to skin the person they think is behind this wanton rape of Mother Nature” (196). Derek statement shows the importance of nature to the women. It further illustrates on the disgrace caused to it through digging of the quarry. By personifying nature and comparing it to a woman further giving it the word ‘mother’, the author is no doubt helping the reader to understand its importance to humanity. The word mother also helps in understanding of the importance of women in the society. The author is further helping the reader understand that human beings activities on the natural resource have both positive and negative consequences.
In this chapter we have discussed the causes and effects of Human wildlife conflict and illuminated on the causes and effects of climate change as presented in Terrorists of the Aberdare. We have further discussed the causes and effects of environmental degradation as presented by the same author in Diffent Colours. Ng’ang’a Mbugua’s novel and the novella are set in the rural areas where men and women are in constant interaction with the natural environment. Ng’ang’a through the two works has highlighted on different ways in which men and women have contributed to destruction of nature through their means of production and survival. In the study we have realized that though some individuals degrade the environment deliberately, others do it out of ignorance while others still do it as a means of survival. The study has also realized that human wildlife conflict results from environmental degradation on one hand. On the other hand it is caused by greed by human beings and failure by the government to demarcate natural resources and to impose strict Laws on those who interfere with natural resources like wild life, waterfalls and forests. Despite the fact that the causes and effects 54
have been presented in a light humorous manner their importance can not be underestimated. It is important to note that Ng’ang’a Mbugua has however presented the causes and effects of environmental degradation differently in Different Colours and Terrorists of the Aberdare. In the novella his ideas revolve around human wild life conflict while in the novel his ideas revolve around a waterfall. This is effective because it enables the reader realize various ways in which human beings degrade the natural environment.
Through a reading of Terrorists of the Aberdare, the reader is able to realize why there is human wildlife conflict, why the temperatures have become unbearable, either too hot or too cold as presented by the author. Ng’ang’a Mbugua is therefore educating the reader on the consequences of forests destruction. His is a contribution to Wanjiku and Nzioki discussion in their earlier mentioned article that: “forests are very important to subsistence farmers especially women. In general terms forests maintain atmospheric balance. They give protection to both soil and water. And in the tropics most of the nutrients are contained in the living forests and the thick layer of decomposing matter on the floors of forests” (23). Ng’ang’a Mbugua further demonstrates the importance of forests in Different Colours. Environmental degradation therefore results to an imbalanced ecosystem. Environmental degradation also results to aesthetic loss. Capitalism and individualism is a major cause of environmental degradation as illustrated in the discussion. Poaching and misuse of both communal and public land is also a major cause of environmental degradation in Kenya. Both the government and the individual are to blame for environmental degradation. The government responsibility towards protection and maintenance of the natural resources is ridiculed by the author for it does not effectively safeguard forests and other public resources like waterfalls against exploitation by some selfish individuals. The natural
environment is an asset that should be taken care of both at an individual and communal and national level.
As we continue experiencing adverse weather and climatical conditions, Ng’ang’a Mbugua is making a contribution in educating the public on the causes and effects of environmental degradation. He is also pointing out on some natural resources which are taken for granted and are misused either due to ignorance or unavoidable circumstances such as poverty. According to Ng’ang’a natural resources should be utilized as tourist attraction sites benefiting the locals, the public, the government and also the foreigners. His message is clear just like the late Wangari Maathai’s that the way we interact with the natural environment today will determine the consequences we face in future. Environment degrading will affect all regardless of gender, class, race and age. It will also affect humanity regardless of the geographical setting. In this chapter as can be seen in the discussion Ng’ang’a Mbugua has utilized language and style in order to comprehensively illustrate on the relationship between environmental degradation to social, political and economic issues.
3.1 The author’s vision on Environmental Conservation in Different Colours and Terrorists of the Aberdare.
In chapter two we discussed the causes and effects of human wildlife conflict and the consequences of environmental degradation to both wild life and human beings as presented by Ng’ang’a Mbugua in Different Colours and Terrorists of the Aberdare. In this chapter we are going to discuss Ng’ang’a Mbugua’s proposed strategies for environmental conservation which include: education, art and artistry. Women have also been presented as a driving force for environmental conservation. The author has utilized various stylistic features in presenting the theme of environmental conservation. Ng’ang’a Mbugua’s concern is in the Kenyan context highlighting on the different ways in which environmental conservation is of significance to a people and its effects on their social cultural an economic environments. Ng’ang’a Mbugua’s main duty is therefore to educate the society on the importance of environmental conservation for a nation building and for social progress. From the present climate conditions and many cases of human wildlife conflict the author is therefore able to project into the future and illuminate on a direction that the society should take.
3.3 Environmental conservation in Different Colours.
3.3.1 Art and Artistry as a tool for environmental conservation.
In Different Colours Ng’ang’a Mbugua has utilized art and artistry to present the theme of environmental conservation. Art and artistry has significantly played a part in aiding the author to develop the theme of environmental conservation in relation to social economic and political issues affecting the people of Banana County as presented in the novel. Art and Artistry therefore 57
clearly helps the author in discussing his other concerns. Miguel is an artist who leaves his home to visit Banana County with only one objective in mind, to paint the magnificent waterfall found in Banana County. The waterfall is to be painted in rainbow colours. The rainbow colours are presented as a symbol of unity of the different communities in Kenya since the rainbow colours complement each other. A symbol in this context is a word, place, character or object that goes beyond the literal sense or a sign that stands for something else. A symbol can therefore be visible or invisible in terms of an idea. The painting of the waterfall therefore gives the author the freedom to express his different ideas. To begin with, the title of the book ‘Different colours’ is symbolic. Different Colours bares both the denotational and conotational meaning. On the surface level Ng’ang’a is referring to different colours Miguel will use in painting the waterfall. He is also referring to the different colours that are used by artists to make their work more appealing and to give the work more meaning. The colours also represent nature and its diversity. Ng’ang’a has used different colours symbolically to represent different people either through race, tribe or ethnicity. Set in a real historical time in a Kenyan context after the 2007 general elections Different Colours represent a nation divided by tribal differences (ethnic differences). To the author there is need for a country to live in harmony just like the different colours used by Miguel and other artist to compliment their work. To Ng’ang’a “the different colours” used help in giving the painting a symbol of the diversity that goes into the making of a nation of diverse ethnicities like Kenya” (Daily Nation 21). The author therefore seems to suggest the urgency for ethnic reconciliation in a country that had historically faced inter ethnic violence, notably in 2002. The waterfall that Miguel sets on a journey to paint is about to be destroyed, on a larger context this is a premonition of what would happen to the nation if its citizens failed to live in harmony. It is a wakeup call to a nation at the verge of being destroyed by tribal clashes. The waterfall is thus 58
juxtaposed with the country Kenya. Just like the waterfall holds the livelihood of the people of Banana County so does the country hold the livelihood of the people of Kenya. Salvation of the waterfall is therefore salvation of Kenyans through the peace campaigns witnessed before the 2013 general elections all over the country mainly by the NGOs and the media groups.
Through some of the characters presented in the novel, specifically Juliana, Ng’ang’a highlights on the effects of ethnicity to individuals and their psyche “She had heard about how people living in other parts of the country were attacked and their houses burnt down just because they were immigrants even though they were in their own country” (34). The quote highlights on the effects of ethnicity at individual level and to the economy of the country. Through interior monologue Juliana would rather live in Banana County, her place of origin even if travelling might open better doors for her. Juliana therefore refuses to join her boyfriend Billy Joe on his journey to better life opportunities. This as the author suggests is because she only trusts her own. Juliana is therefore a symbol of many who share in her belief:
She had chosen the comfort of life she had known since she was a little girl .In her reckoning; there would be no ethnic violence in Banana County. She would never wake up in the middle of the night to find her home on fire. What’s more, it was unlikely that a day would come when her neighbour would turn against her because they did not share a mother tongue or political point of view. But she did not voice these concerns (35).
Fear of ethnic violence separates Juliana from her lover; she would rather have him leave Banana County than to accompany him to another region where she might encounter ethnicity. The fear
that Juliana faces is due to cases that had happened in Kenya before in 2002 and 2007 after the general elections. People had lost lives and others maimed and property destroyed. The fact that Miguel is from another region gives more credence to Ng’ang’a Mbugua’s belief in oneness. At first his attitude alienates him from the people but upon his realization of its negativity he adopts a friendlier approach. Ng’ang’a exemplifies this through Miguel’s visit to Banana Market where he witnesses people living together as one “close-knit community despite the fact that they are from different regions.
He would have expected that all people there were born and brought up in the area, but to his surprise, he found that the residents were diverse, with people from almost every corner of the country. But all were living like they had known each other all their lives. Miguel was struck by their unpretentious acceptance of each other and sense of comrade that marked their interactions with one another…no one harbored any prejudice against the other. They accepted each other for what they were and moved on with their lives, each doing what he or she was best at….
For a moment, he wished that he could live in Banana County all his life. The harmony among the people reflected the scene at the waterfall, which in turn could not exist if the hill were to vanish from the face of the earth. Each not only complemented the other but depended on this symbiotic relationship for its existence (110-11). The author therefore is passing a massage that people should live with and work together regardless of their ethnicity background or place of origin. This would foster the nation’s development from the grassroots to the top. The author leaves no doubt to the reader on the negative effects created by political intolerance which makes people view others differently breeding interethnic tension and suspicions. Ng’ang’a no doubt equates oneness among people to 60
the waterfall. His advocacy that people need to accept and work together is clear. Just like a waterfall needs the hills and forest to survive so do people and communities need each other for national development. Conservation of the waterfall can thus be interpreted as symbolizing the environmental conservation at a thematic level, and as a harmonizing agent to the entire country. When Miguel visits Banana County he is looked at with suspicion. Upon his arrival to the County the residents realize that he is from another region as soon as he goes to board the only taxi to the village, upon his arrival to the village he is treated and looked at as a stranger. His appearance fuels the suspicions created, this is because Miguel has spotted dreadlocks, and he is seen and even stereotyped as a bhang smoker. He is even suspected of being a fugitive. His good intentions are therefore mistaken.
Of importance is how the artist’s colony in Lake Iposha helps the author in presenting oneness. The colony is like one big family .Through a flashback Miguel remembers how the artist’s colony lived and worked together for the benefit of all. This was regardless of gender, age and tribe. This is symbolic of how he would wish the Nation to live, as one large family. The different artists are inclined to different things yet they tolerate and accept their differences. The author leaves no doubt that he would wish Kenyans to emulate the artists.
Their colony was like a thick–skinned bubble .Though it floated in a tempestuous world of turbulent politics, widespread hunger, unmitigated greed, constant violence and mindless hatred; it was never punctured by poisonous arrows. It was a place where one could lay down his troubles and just be (5).
This seems to suggest that people should live above the small vices exemplified by the author. They should not be used by politicians to hate one another for the politician’s benefit. The people
should be responsible for their country, respecting one another and tolerating each other for the goodness of the country.
He and another artist shared beds, dishes and clothes. It never mattered to them that they were living at the heart of Kusini, which was in the middle of nowhere, as people say. But as far as the artists were concerned, they were in heaven, all of them were members of one big, happy and creative family… (59).
Where one comes from does not really matter. He or she should foster a good relationship with other people. This is no doubt the author’s message; discrimination, prejudice and biasness should not be tolerated. Ng’ang’a repeatedly talks about the harmony of colours several times in the novel .This is for emphasis on the importance of “Ethnic reconciliation and the significance that truth and justice” will foster in the the economy of the nation according to Ng’ang’a Mbugua in an interview.
Miguel has deliberately been presented as a landscape painter by the author in order to aid in presenting his ideologies. Painting and art in general are both economic activities. Miguel and the rest of the artist colony are in the industry for money. Using the natural resources available to him, Miguel, is able to earn money, not only does he paint for financial gain but he also does it for pleasure and for aesthetic purposes. Miguel confesses through an interior monologue that initially he used to paint portraits but has since shifted to painting landscapes hence his name the ‘landscape painter’. From the interior monologue and flashbacks the reader is made to understand the challenges he faced while painting portraits. The reader is also able to understand how Miguel became an artist and his professional growth. Through Miguel, the author is no doubt illuminating on the positive impact artists can bring to the society, Miguel’s immortalizing the waterfall and 62
any other natural resource on canvas is geared at demonstrating to the reader the importance of conserving and preserving the natural resources, his action of immortalizing the waterfall is symbolic of preservation and conservation of the waterfall and in extension nature. His visit to Banana is faced with very many challenges first, he does not get fully accepted, one because he is from a different region and two because he is an artist. His going to paint the waterfall and to immortalize it on canvas is a premonition of the permanence he gives the waterfall when he succeeds in saving it from the real destruction that is about to take place through Dik Teita illegal digging of a quarry behind it or on its foundation. It is symbolic and a personification. By giving the waterfall life the author is personifying it and wants to make it permanent and to prevent it from any destruction. The author is therefore juxtaposing Miguel’s art to the waterfall. Just as Miguel faces challenges in trying to save the waterfall so does the waterfall face challenges upon its near destruction. Before his arrival to Banana county to do the painting of the waterfall he first encounters thieves in Ilovi a localized name for Nairobi where he looses the key to the Maskan, Billy Joe’s house. On the same note the author humors the reader by pointing at how Miguel hid the money in the socks when he encountered the thieves in Nairobi. Though the author presents the point on alight note, he leaves no doubt that he is educating the reader on petty crime in Nairobi specifically in River Road a real geographical place and other urban places. The use of Ilovi and Maskan helps in giving the novel realism since it is the language of communication among people in Miguel’s age group and also helps us understand that Miguel is cosmopolitan. Use of real geographical places adds to realism of the novel.
In Banana County Miguel’s objective is derailed by Dik Teita. This does not however stop him from realizing his objective so upon his realization that the waterfall is in danger, he goes out of his way to save it just as he goes out of his way to paint the waterfall. Just as the waterfall supports the live of the river and by extension the lives of the people of Banana County so does the paintings and art in general support the life of Miguel. Through Miguel, the author has therefore presented the theme of environmental conservation highlighting on the importance of artists in the society. He has also highlighted on the importance of natural resources since some artist like Miguel utilize their presence by painting them. Through art Miguel is able to earn an income the same way that the waterfall will help the residents of Banana, benefiting them through creation of employment opportunities thus improving their lives and preserving it for future generations. The waterfall in Banana County is just a representation of many natural resources in Kenya that need to be preserved for the present and for the future generations. Ng’ang’a Mbugua’s message to the reader that nature should be preserved and not exploited by either the government or individuals to meet their needs and for financial mobility is clear. In the novel the author exemplifies misuse of communal and public property through Dik Teita’s act of selfishness and greed because he only wants to benefit himself at the expense of the majority of Banana County citizens who rely on the waterfall for the various reasons as mentioned in the previous chapter. Dik Teita is a symbol of many selfish individual who take advantage of natural resources available to them without considering the majority who would benefit from the same recourses. A good example is deforestation, harvesting of sand and digging of minerals in some parts of the country. According to Janet Kabeberi-Macharia in her article ‘Women and environmental law in Kenya’ “In most countries, development in whatever form has been largely achieved at the cost of the environment. The need for sound environmental management has to be viewed as a constraint 64
in an attempt to achieve rapid economic growth” (92). It is no wonder that Dik Teita puts up a spirited fight against those who try to stop him from achieving his objective, digging and selling stones from the quarry. Through Dik Teita the author is therefore illuminating on individuals in the society who are just like Dik Teita pointing out that they should not be left to destroy the environment since it is “their responsibility to ensure the protection of the environment for the present and future generations…all human beings have a fundamental right to an environment adequate for their health and wellbeing…”as Macharia adds. Since Miguel understands the importance of environmental conservation he therefore takes the responsibility to save the waterfall both through the painting and in reality.
To Miguel the natural environment should also be preserved for aesthetic value that is why upon his arrival to Banana County through his artistic eye he notices that the people of Banana have preserved the natural forest. Miguel compares Banana County to other places he had visited before where such forests have been destroyed. The forests in Banana County have helped maintain the river and the many other smaller waterfalls along the Orange River. They have added value to the county since the area is a tourist attraction both to the locals and foreigners therefore bringing income.
Through the painting the author succeeds in changing the attitude of the people of Banana County. Miguel’s attitude is equally changed when he visits the local market. Through out the novel, Miguel, the protagonist is presented as the driving force through which the waterfall is saved. The realization that the waterfall was going to collapse since the rock being dug was the foundation of the river leads him to courageously facing the men and questioning them about it. “But you are destroying the waterfall” (138). Through the brief dialogue that Miguel has with the 65
gang, it is clear that they only care about the money they will receive after their work. This is the reason they threaten Miguel and scare him away. It is ironical that Miguel, a visitor in Banana County sees the dangers of destroying the waterfall, not just to one but many, the present and future generation yet, those working on the quarry seem not to realize it. A turn of events is witnessed when Derek another artist travels to Banana County. Initially; he is coming to create a website for Dik Teita so he can help him sell his pigs online. This can also be interpreted as a ploy to keep Miguel away from the waterfall. He finds himself with no other option but to join hands with Miguel and Angela in saving and helping conserve the waterfall. Derek becomes the organizing force behind this noble endeavour of saving the waterfall. It is through Derek that the people from Flora and Fauna learn about the magnificent waterfall in Banana County that is at the verge of destruction. Derek also informs Angela on how to mobilize the women against the destruction of the waterfall.
Through Billy Joe the author highlights the government responsibility in the conservation and preservation of the natural resources found in the country. As mentioned in the previous chapter Billy gets repeatedly arrested when he cuts the indigenous trees. Due to the nature of these indigenous trees and their importance essentially in water retention, attraction of rain and holding of soil together they need to be conserved. The trees and in essence the forests also need to be conserved for continuity since some tree species are getting extinct. In Different Colours, the artist characters play an important role in developing the theme of environmental conservation. They also help in environmental conservation. Artist like Miguel help create history through his paintings because the artifacts can last for several generations. Any
changes on the natural resources may not be reflected in painting done earlier; this can therefore be beneficial to historians
Conservation of Environment as presented by N’gang’a Mbugua in the novel has other benefits as well, it will foster job creation. Many people will work for the Kenya Wildlife Service, others for the Forestry Department and in hotels while others as tour guides and drivers. Some will go into business opening curio shops. The tourism industry will no doubt flourish. The Flora and Fauna people are ready to work with the community to save the waterfall and build a bigger, better Tourist hotel in Banana County. They assure the people of jobs some as tour guides others as drivers while others will work in the hotel. This will foster their economy at individual, communal and the national level since the tourists will bring in foreign exchange. Those with private businesses will need to upgrade for them to accommodate the changes expected. “You will need to improve your hotel, you can paint it better and find more comfortable seats and serve a variety of foods since we expect there to be a bigger number of visitors to this area. And you can capitalize on that to grow your business” (238). “You can market yourself as an exotic kind of transport operator who can give visitors a ride like none they have enjoyed in their lives…You can partner with the hotel to provide tours to the waterfall and other attractions in the village including the hills and forests” (239).
Everyone in the village is to benefit if the waterfall is preserved. Those who already have businesses will expand. A good example is Juliana who can improve her restaurant, Poromoko Inn to a tourist class attracting more customers. The taxi driver can also improve his old car and provide better services; he could double up as a tour guide. More foreigners will come to Banana County bringing in new ideas. This will not only affect the present but also the future generations. 67
The author is sensitizing the public on the importance of conserving natural resources in a society. The economy will improve thus improving their lives. Poverty level will inevitably be reduced. The name given to the painting at the end of the novel is symbolic of the social change to the people of Banana County. “The painting that changed a village” (257) suggest that the people of Banana County have been sensitized on the importance of unity. They have also been sensitized on the importance of utilizing time and making more money. A case in question is the taxi driver. They save the waterfall as a group and are ready to work with one another for social, economic and political development.
3.3.2 Women and environmental conservation.
Over the years women have been close to the natural environment than their male partners. Critics have argued that “in a patriarchal society women have been considered closer to nature than men and that their association has validated subjugation of both” further noting that “human minorities exploitation is often closely interlinked with exploitation of nature” (Speek 161). Women are the majority poor both in rural and urban places in Africa and therefore closer to nature and the impacts of environmental degradation. In Different Colours for example, the women join together to save the precious natural resource, the waterfall, from near destruction by Dik Teita. Conserving and preserving the natural environment is not only witnessed in Different Colours but also in Wangari Maathai’s Unbowed One Woman’s Story where Wangari mobilizes women to plant trees mostly in Kenya’s central province. Women in different parts of the country have come together to help conserve water through digging of wells, others come together for economic and social empowerment. In Different Colours, Ng’ang’a Mbugua exemplifies the importance of the Waterfall and the Orange river to the women and generally the people of 68
Banana County. The river provides the women with water for washing their clothes and for domestic use. The women are therefore “water Managers” to agree with (Wanjiku and Nzioki 19). Saving the waterfall from destruction would not only mean saving their livelihoods but also that of their present and future generation. On realizing the near destruction of the waterfall they are presented as going to the forest to witness the extent of the destruction. They do this as a group since they are all beneficiaries of the waterfall. The waterfall is presented as the source of River Orange therefore its destruction will have adverse effects on the river and in extension all the residents of Banana County and beyond. As the women rally to the waterfall to protest its destruction, they save Miguel and Derek’s lives. Their march in protest to the destruction does not end at the forest; upon Dik Teita and his gangs escape, the women continue their march to the police station where they inform the authority. Their protest is a big success, the destruction of the waterfall stops. As the waterfall is saved, the people of Banana County realize that the waterfall is part of their social cultural life. They also realize the importance of natural resources to their economy and well being. It is therefore important to note that “women in Kenya have undertaken environmental conservation activities” (Khasiani 119). The women’s daily interaction with the natural environment necessitates their care, preservation and conservation of the natural environment.
Ng’ang’a Mbugua has no doubt illuminated on the importance of natural resources such as forests and rivers to women in society. Since women are in constant interaction with nature more so those living in rural areas, they are at the forefront of its conservation. They rely on trees for firewood and charcoal for fuel, depend on soil for crop cultivation for domestic consumption and commercialization and rely on rivers for domestic water supply. Conserving the environment is a responsibility they have carried on in the past and are still doing it in the present. Environmental 69
conservation will not only benefit their present but also the future generations. On a larger context the women are a representative of many who are “concerned and involved with current local, national and global issues” (Khasiani 1).
3.4 Environmental conservation in Terrorists of the Aberdare. 3.4.1 Education and Environmental conservation.
Miguel’s responsibility to environmental conservation can be witnessed through a reading of Terrorists of the Aberdare. This he does through Professor Okisoma Utapita who has posted an article in the newspaper on the adverse effects of climatical change in various parts of the country. The author gives credence to the social value of education by highlighting on climatical conditions in various places that has been as a result of environmental degradation. In his selection of the names, Ng’ang’a Mbugua has employed Analogism (coinage of words from either English, Swahili or Kikuyu) for humour and effectiveness since translated from Kiswahili the name symbolizes working hard and passing exams in school. Through use of flashback, which is “important in establishing the theme of the story” (Barry 235). Doe Madirari illuminates to the reader, the severe effects of climate change to large water bodies in the country giving example of both Lake Victoria and the Indian Ocean. He discovered this through a reading of an article in the Taifa Leo at his local restaurant. The local restaurant thus acts as a centre of information in the novel since the characters are able to access the news paper and to read about current affairs. Education therefore acts as a tool to realization of the extent of environmental degradation and the importance of environmental conservation. Doe Maridari is able to understand the severity because he has gone through school. Presenting the news paper article as having been written by a professor adds value to the importance of education in a society. 70
The professor was saying something very intriguing. That the levels of water in Lake Victoria had dropped by over three metres in the last five years. According to him, this was worrying because it meant that the lake was drying up and that fishermen had to travel further into the lake to catch fish. And if they went too far, they would cross the imaginary border line and pursue the fish into Uganda or Tanzania where they risked being arrested for being in another country without a passport. Prof. Okisoma was also saying that the water levels in Mombasa and other coastal towns were rising because ice was thawing in the North Pole because the earth was growing hotter. So the sea level was rising, covering some homes and would in future spread inland. Which meant that if you built a house or a hotel near the ocean one day you would need a boat to reach it (21-2).
The above quote helps exemplify the serious effects of environmental degradation highlighting on the need for people to become more environmentally responsible and to conserve the environment. By citing both Lake Victoria and the Indian Ocean the author highlights the reader that it’s not only a Kenyan but a world wide phenomenon. By bringing in the issue of fishing the author is illuminating on political differences that have existed between countries because of the boundary issue. A case in question is the Migingo Island. On the same note the author is giving credence to the media in the role they play in educating the public on important issues concerning them. The significance of the media is not only highlighted in Terrorists of the Aberdare but also in Different Colours. In Different Colours the importance of the media is illustrated through Derek. Through the same character he also illuminates on the importance of the social media to the public. Derek in an effort to save the waterfall wanted to take pictures of the waterfall and post them on his face book and blog page. He was also going to inform his brother a journalist on 71
the destruction caused to the waterfall and above all he was going to inform those in authority. It worked for Derek because the people from Flora and Fauna came in to help. We can therefore say the media plays a role in environmental conservation noting that without education it would not be possible. The literate people are presented as the one who are able to read the newspaper, they, in turn, can pass this information to others, Since the novel is set in a rural area Ng’ang’a deliberately uses a Kiswahili newspaper article because majority in rural areas are more comfortable reading Kiswahili especially the aged. The use of a Kiswahili article is both humorous and realistic. The article further highlights on what would happen if the water level in Lake Victoria keeps going down. Of course marine life would reduce. Reduction in marine life is a disadvantage to the economy of the country since harvesting of fish is an economic activity. It will also negatively affect the tourism industry. Reduction of marine life though presented in a light manner shows the severe effects caused by people on water bodies and other natural resources available to them. Cutting of trees and farming along river banks, spraying pesticide to crops are contributing to endangering the lives of marine species. What Ng’ang’a is saying is that people need to improve their interaction with nature. They need to restore and conserve it to avoid some of the problems they are facing today and in the future as presented by the author through the professor. This will foster the economic empowerment of individuals and at the national level.
Ng’ang’a Mbugua ridicules the system of education though. Humourously, Doe Madirari nostalgically remembers his early days in school through a flashback and how joining class one was not through merit but whether your hand was long enough to pass over your head and touch your ear, the physical setting of the school gives the novel a real geographical setting “We found ourselves sitting next to each other under the fig tree that served as our temporary classroom for 72
the first term of our stay at Kiamwangi DEB primary school (39). This is an illumination of how the system of education has failed, in some places especially the remote parts of the country for example Kitui, Mwingi, Turkana and parts of North Eastern Province, schools have no class rooms available hence pupils are forced to study under trees or make shifts classrooms. Cheating of examinations is also ridiculed and illuminated as another reason why the education system has failed; Sonko Wakadosi was forced to repeat class two because he cheated in exams. Cases of students cheating in exam have been rampant in Kenya, hence the authors warning against the vise. Sending children from school is also questioned. Instead of parents giving them what they are send for and sending them back to school, some use them as extra hands translating to child labour which is not acceptable in the Kenyan law. Though the author is ridiculing the system of education, he is also pointing out at poverty as being the main cause why children are send home from school. Poverty is presented as a reason for child labour and as the reason why some people do not access education. Had Sonko Wakadosi been able to pay school fees, he and his siblings would not have dropped out of school.
Indirectly through Penina, the author is giving insight to the reader that use of chemicals in farms is disastrous to both the health of individuals and the natural environment. He seems to be suggesting for better methods that are less disastrous to health and the environment without illuminating on them. The author seems to present a problem but does consequently not give a solution for example crop rotation and mixed farming. By pointing at the extreme temperatures he seems to be calling for environmental restoration for example through afforastation which would include planting ecologically friendly trees and adopting better farming methods.
3.4.2 Solution to Human Wildlife conflict.
In of the Aberdare Human wildlife conflict has been presented as a major problem to the residents of Kinangop and other Kenyans neighboring game reserves and parks. Human wildlife conflict is directly related to environmental degradation as mentioned in the previous chapter. Wildlife conservation is therefore a necessity to echo William K. Kiprono the Kenya Wildlife Director that if we do not conserve our wildlife “the future generations will learn about their heritage in books or in zoos as is the case of many western nations” (11). The terrorists of the Aberdare (the elephants) lack something to eat in their natural habitats forcing them to look for food at the people’s territory. By personifying the elephants and calling them Terrorists the author seems to show the magnitude of the problem. An urgent solution needs to be sought against the menace since the elephants are causing suffering to humanity; a good example is Sonko Wakakosi whose life is terminated at his prime age. Doe Madirari, the narrator knows what the elephants are capable of and through flashbacks he narrates to the reader the several incidents that the people of Kinangop have had to encounter with the elephants. Some of the individuals include, Sonko Wakadosi as earlier mentioned, Mama Pima, the local brewer, Shufa Nandefe. They have infested several farms for example Firifiri Farm which is presented as out of bounce to other villagers Mategwa Kunona farm is a symbol of power as earlier said. The Terrorists (elephants) visit to Firifiri farm shows the magnitude of their power against Mategwa Kunona’s (the proprietor).To make matters worse they stay there for a week. Ironically Mategwa does not use a gun to shoot them as he had instructed his guards to shoot any trespasser on sight. “Firi Firi” Farm had become a no go zone even for Mategwas neighbours” (59). Just like the Delamere Farm, those seen trespassing are shot on sight and because of power and wealth he does not serve a life sentence like a poor Kenyan would. Asking the guards to shoot trespassers on sight shows how in human 74
he is. He does not seem to care about other peoples lives. No member of the village can reach him for help. The author is by no doubt portraying how the rich alienate themselves from the people including their neighbours because of wealth and power.
Nyoks Ndarafufua is presented as an environmental activist. During Sonko Wakadosi’s funeral the Member of Parliament points out that the residents of Kinangop are to blame for the attack on them by the wild animals. He pin points the various reasons that mans activity has led to wildlife attack. Cutting down trees for firewood and burning of charcoal are some of the reasons for reduction of forests and destruction of wildlife habitats; some individuals graze their animals in the forest or grab some parts of the forest and kill or endanger the wild life species. Through a series of rhetorical questions the Member of Parliament further points out that over the years the people have been cultivating maize and potatoes along the river banks, and in the past few years, those rivers have been experiencing the consequences and have been drying up gradually. The area Member of Parliament employs the use of rhetoric questions to help the audience realize that they are a part of their problem. This he does at Sonko Wakadosis funeral addressing the mourners who are also residents of Kinangop. After presenting the problem, Nyoks Ndarafufua gives them a remedy at the same time blaming the Kenya Wildlife services for not being responsible enough. This is because according to Kenya Wild life “a significant population of our wildlife is found outside protected areas” (Kiprono11) through the area Member of Parliament the author is also ridiculing the Kenya wildlife services for not doing their job properly. Nyoks Ndarafufua complains of repeatedly asking the Kenya wildlife service to erect a fence around the Aberdare National Park. The fence is of great importance because it will ascertain that the wild animals stay in the forest and restrict the people from going out to the forest to cause destruction. On the other hand the wild animals will not be able to reach people’s residence hence there will 75
be no destruction of people’s crops and attack on domestic animals. Attack on human beings by wild animals will also be no more. There will no longer be human wildlife conflict. The area Member of Parliament sees the construction of the fence as a long term solution and the only way to save the forest. The construction of the fence does not only apply in Aberdare forests but in other forests in the country as well. The Aberdare forest symbolizes other forests in the country and by extension Africa. Nyoks Ndarafufua further demonstrates to the reader the importance of wildlife conservation to the people of Kinangop and the rest of Kenya.
Through a flashback the author makes the reader realize that Kinangop was different in the past. The tourism industry was more active in the past as compared to the present, the roads were good and traders used to sell curios along the road. “Many of us still remember with nostalgia those days when the road was smooth as an orange and the tourist vans were as numerous as butterflies in January. But that was another time, a better time, when there were many businesses which were thriving at the places where the tourist used to stop” (85). By giving such a statement through the area Member of Parliament speech at the funeral, the author is no doubt illuminating on the importance of tourism in an area. He is equally highlighting on the importance of good infrastructure in an area. Good infrastructure and tourism will improve the lives of the Kinangop people at individual and communal level. Comparing the road to an Orange gives more credence to the authors juxtaposing the past and the present. What he seems to say is that wild animals were more in the past before man started interfering through his means of production. Comparing the tourist vans to butterflies in January shows how the tourism industry was flourishing. Nyoks Ndarafufua is against the killing of the wild animals because he views it as a contributing factor to the drop in tourism in the region. “If we kill the elephants we will not only interfere with the 76
natural order of things but we will also kill the tourism industry with the same bullet” (85) from his words the reader can tell that the area member of parliament is development conscious. The author further extends the Member of Parliament responsibility over wildlife through his attempt to stop the mob from killing Kanywaji. This happens immediately after Sonko Wakadosi’s funeral. Though he does not succeed he stands out as educating the reader on the importance of wildlife to a people and the nation at large. He seems to understand that wildlife is a natural resource that is important for economic, cultural and ecological value.
All is not lost though because through a flash forward the area Member of Parliament, Nyoks Ndarafua is optimistic that there will be a positive change soon. He informs them of a tender to construct the road that once approved the road would be as it was or even better. The area Member of Parliament Nyoks Ndarafufua takes advantage of the funeral to move forward his campaign. He fully knows what the society expects of him and is trying to build his name so that he can be re-elected for the coming term. The author seems to be making the reader realize that social issues such as human wild life conflict, death and funerals, weddings and even infrastructure can be used by politicians as campaign baits. As earlier mentioned, human wildlife conflict has a co-relation to social, economic and political issues. It is at Sonko Wakadosi’s funeral, a social issue that the area Member of Parliament campaign for his re election in the next general election.
Ng’ang’a in Terrorists of the Aberdare no doubt seems to be pointing out to the reader that
Wildlife and other biodiversity conservation needs both the local people and government support for it to be a success. This he does through the local Member of Parliament who illuminates to the public that though the Kenya Wildlife Service is to blame for not keeping the animals controlled 77
and restrained, the people too are to blame for the animals leaving their natural habitant and moving to human habitat. The author is helping the audience realize that such deaths can be prevented. Nyoks Ndarafufua points out that he “did not know this man (reffering to Sonko). But I do not need to know him to be outraged that he had to die for something that could be prevented” (82).
Though he does not know Sonko, buying a coffin for him and attending his funeral helps the local Member of Parliament build his name. The author is ridiculing the fact that the minister could not help Sonko when he was alive though they are from the same region. The Member of Parliament is a synecdoche of other politicians who attend funeral services in order to boost their campaign strategies and to establish their popularity. His gesture of kindness is therefore geared at a selfish gain. Going to parliament for another term will definitely guarantee him of wealth, fame and power.
Though the author presents the area Member of Parliament positively he does not fail to ridicule what the journalist would report to the media, mentioning that the Member of Parliament will carry all the credit for the day fostering his campaign since he has attended a poor mans burial ceremony and bought him a coffin, little will be said about the man who is being buried simply because he is unpopular and poor, only his age and the reason for his death. This is because the minister represents power and authority. The journalist highlights on how biased the Kenyan media is with cases of media houses taking sides during campaign periods.
Some critics for example Mark B.Feldman and Hsuan L. Hsu have argued that “environment and nature cannot be fully understood without accounting for histories of social and racial 78
stratification” (200). In the West for example the race issue as highlighted in chapter one is and has over the years contributed in equality and uneven distribution of natural resources and “environmental benefits and harms” (199). In the Third World, culture and environmentalism was greatly influenced by colonialism. To date it has retained some cultures of colonialist leading to uneven distribution of natural resources with few elites occupying fertile lands and exploiting natural resources at the expense of the minority, most of who are poor; “the distribution of environmental burdens and risks reflect the legacies of radicalization and colonialism and cannot be analyzed or remedied without attending to problems of racial inequality and geographical uneven development” (Feldman and Hsuan 199).
Through the above quote helps the reader understand the role the government plays in compensating victims of human wildlife conflict, satirizing on their requiting peoples lives to a few thousand shilling. Most of these victims are the poor and the unknown. The poor and the minority in developing countries can be compared to the people of colour in the United States whose compensation following Hurricane Katrina was below par. “As evident in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina people of colour can expect different responses from the government when it comes to remediation (Fieldman & Hsuan 203). As earlier mentioned in the introduction to this chapter, the poor and minority as presented by the author are more affected by environmental disasters. In Kenya those displaced due to floods or interethnic clashes receive little or no compensation at all. Through a flashback Ng’ang’a makes it clear to the reader by pointing the amount of money that Sonko Wakadosi parents get as compensation following his death, the author is therefore giving the reader further insights on the social injustice experienced more so by poor in society. “And if ever there was justice in this World, Why should Sonko Wakadosi’s 79
mother get Shillings 30,000 from The Kenya Wildlife Service as compensation for the death of her son? Is a man’s life worth Shillings 30,000?” (78), the author seems to suggest that the government should be more responsible to its citizens ensuring that neither humans nor the wild animals interfere with one another. His statement is sarcastic of the government responsibility over its citizens.
Through Sonko Wakadosi, the maasai and the young girls deaths and the public realizes that human wildlife conflict is a menace that needs an immediate solution. Wildlife conservation and employing measures to restrict the wild animals from attacking people like constructing the fence will definitely help. This is not only in kinangop but in the whole country. Sonko Wakadosi and the other few individuals who have met death through an encounter with wildlife represent many other individual in the country that have witnessed human wildlife attacks especially in places near forests, game reserves or game parks.
The poaching that is done by some members of Kinangop community is a vice that need to be ridiculed. This is the reason why the author illuminates on the arrest done on Mari Mari, a symbolic name for richness. The author is giving a warning to the general public on the consequences that go with poaching since the Kenyan law does not allow it. Mari Mari’s activity is as a result of capitalism and individualism. He only wants to enrich himself at the expense of the natural environment that would benefit a whole society in the present and also in future. Mari represents other illegal poachers in Kenya and in East Africa who threaten some wildlife species like elephants and rhino because of their Ivory. Cases of Ivory being burnt by the government and arrests on individuals who are caught poaching are numerous. This helps in giving stern warning to those with the same objective. On the same note the author is giving credence to the 80
government in their responsibility to cub poaching in the Country.
Good roads and conservation and restoration of the Aberdare national park will not only benefit the local but other citizens not forgetting that tourism industry is one of the main foreign exchange earners in Kenya to agree with Wanjiku and Nzioki when they say “in countries such as Kenya and Tanzania, where wildlife is a great tourist attraction, control measures ensure the flow of tourists. Tourism is the leading foreign exchange earner in Kenya hence the seriousness of wildlife protection” (24). Individuals will also benefit through employment since the industry will open up various job opportunities.
The point the author is making through his characters is that wildlife is part of a natural resource that has to be preserved for the survival of humanity. Destroying it would mean destroying humanity. If human beings do not take the responsibility of conserving the environment they will be the ones responsible for hardships faced in the present and in future. If you destroy forests, you must be prepared for the rains to reduce and for drought to set in as it did this year. And if the rains reduce, the crops will not do well. Besides the animals will leave the destroyed forests and look for something to eat elsewhere. And if I were an animal, the first place to look for food is the immediate neighborhood, where people live. After all it is the people who are destroying the animals’ source of food (84). Ng’ang’a Mbugua has artistically (utilized art specifically literature) presented the causes and consequences of Human Wildlife conflict and the importance of preserving our natural forests in Terrorists of the Aberdare. Through the Narrator, Sonko Wakadosi and the Member of Parliament, Ng’ang’a has effectively presented effects of Human Wildlife conflicts, deforestation 81
and solutions of preventing such. In Different colours Ng’ang’a Mbugua has presented to the reader various proposals in which the natural environment can be conserved, illuminating on the importance of art and artists in environmental conservation and that role that education plays in environmental conservation. The author has also presented women as key to preserving and conserving natural resources. According to me he effectively relayed his message to the public and educated them on what can be done to preserve our natural resources.
In Terrorists of the Aberdare and Different colours, Ng’ang’a Mbugua has illuminated on the different causes and effects of environmental degradation and the need for environmental conservation in the present Kenya. The study highlights on the multiplicity of ways in which people contribute to environmental degradation through their interaction with nature and consequently through their means of production as presented in the two works. It is however important to note that though Ng’ang’a Mbugua has presented environmental degradation in the two novels differently, the writer seems to problematize the theme of environmental conservation in the two works. The study observes that both the novel and the novella has utilized the rural space in order to properly present the main theme since those in rural area interact more with nature as compared to the urban dwellers.
Ng’ang’a Mbugua in Terrorists of the Aberdare and Different Colours utilizes the protagonist in helping to problematize the theme of environmental conservation. Both protagonists in the two works are presented as interacting with nature in various ways as a means of production and for economic growth. In Terrorists of the Aberdare Sonko Wakadosi interacts with the natural environment through farming, which eventually leads to his encounter with the elephants that eventually kill him. Different Colours present Miguel’s contact with natural environment through his art work specifically painting of landscapes. It is through his painting that he realizes a natural resource is at the verge of destruction. Both works help the reader in understanding that environmental degradation is a serious problem in Kenya. The novels also help in our understanding of the extent to which the present generation is affected further enabling us realize
if we do not conserve the environment the future generations will be worst hit by for example natural calamities such as drought, floods and expanding deserts. Through the titles of the novella and the novel, the author has effectively utilized style specifically symbolism. The titles given to the two stories help illuminate the author’s purpose and ideas. This is because through the two titles the reader can comprehend the symbolism in Ng’ang’a Mbugua’s two stories. The title Different Colours symbolize the people of Kenya who come from diverse regions and diverse communities but living and working together in peace and harmony. The Different Colours symbolize different tribes of the Kenyan people. It symbolizes the various ethnic communities in the country who despite different cultures strive to build one nation.
Terrorists of the Aberdare can be viewed from two different perspectives. One, it symbolizes the elephants in the Aberdare forest who are a menace to the people of the region since they destroy their crops and hurt those who stand in their way. The elephants further stand for various wild life species like lions and hyenas which attack human beings and destroy their produce. On the other hand, the Terrorists seem to suggest various illegal groups like Mugiki, Mombasa Republican Council (MRC), Sungusungu, Chingororo and Al shabaab who have been exalting and causing fear to fellow Kenyans.
As earlier mentioned, in both the novel and the novella, the author has presented human beings as the main cause of environmental degradation hence his need to preserve and conserve the environment both for the present and future generations. In Terrorists of the Aberdare man or woman is presented as the main reason for human wildlife conflict. Human beings are presented as the main reason for the growing reduction in forest cover in the country. Human beings have 84
degraded the environment over the years by cutting trees either for firewood or for charcoal burning. Clearing of more land for planting his or her crops is presented as another reason. Reduction of forest cover is also presented as the main reason for climatic change leading to drought that has caused wild animals to move to peoples’ habitats looking for food and killing people incase they lack something to eat. Greed can be interpreted as a cause for this wild life attack. A case in question is the crocodile attack on the innocent girl. People’s geographical setting is a contributing factor to human wild life attacks. Those communities living near forests and rivers that have crocodiles are more vulnerable to wild life attacks. In Different Colours individualism and capitalism is presented as the main reason for environmental degradation. Dik Teita quest for money is the main reason for the harvesting of building stones behind the waterfall. Dik Teita seifish interests are what cause him to harvest stones from a communal and public natural resource. This is the main reason why he does it secretly not wanting the public to know since the rock is the foundation of the river and they are dependent on the same river for various reasons. Digging the stones is definitely going to destroy the water fall which embodies the people’s culture and their livelihoods.
After problematising the issue (environmental degradation) the author gives a solution for environmental conservation. In Terrorists of the Aberdare the author suggests a positive change in people’s interaction with the natural environment. They can become more responsible to the environment if they stopped destroying forests and cultivating along river banks which would contribute to drying of rivers which in essence support and sustain the forests. By doing so, the forests will survive and the wild animals will have their natural habitat, the ecology will thus be sustained. The climatical conditions will be improved, reducing cases of drought experienced in 85
the country. Environmental conservation in Different Colours is achieved by Miguel bringing it to people’s knowledge and helping mobilize women who become very instrumental in their protest against the harvesting of stones at the quarry. They also contribute in ascertaining that he is brought to book. Both novels end with a solution to environmental conservation. By presenting the women as a driving force through which the waterfall is saved the author is no doubt highlighting on their importance in a society showing “their developing activities and an expression of resilience and rejection to succumb from confidence crises that emanate from their magnalised position” (Khasiani 1). The fact that Dik Teita’s is the man behind the waterfall’s destruction does not stop them from fighting for the communal resource even though initially they had regarded him with respect and fear due to his wealth and considering most of them are so poor to an extend of incurring debts with him.
Besides environmental conservation the author utilizes other themes that help him develop the theme of environmental conservation. One such theme is love which is a social issue. In both the novel and the novella a love relationship develops between the protagonist and a female character. The characters in love contribute to environmental conservation. In Terrorists of the Aberdare, Sonko Wakadosi is in love with Penina the girl who refuses to go and work in a flower farm in Naivasha because of the dangers caused by inhaling and contact with the pesticides or herbicides used. Through Penina and other female characters who have been victims of chemicals used in farms the author problematizes the use of chemicals but does not give a solution to better prevention measures to plants attack by diseases. He does not talk about how those who use the chemicals can protect themselves for example by wearing protective clothing since due to poverty they desperately need the job.
Penina is also the reason why Sonko gets attacked by the elephants because his objective in planting the cabbages is to get money (since he is poor) and go after the woman of his dreams who has since left Kinangop. In Terrorists of the Aberdare the author portrays poverty as a social issue through Sonko, Penina and their families. He also points at how destiny shapes peoples lives. Angela a female character in Different Colours is in love with Miguel. When Miguel has no where to stay she houses him. She is the woman behind the mobilizing of the group of women that march to the forest to protest against the destruction of the waterfall. Upon the realization that the water fall is under threat she works hand in hand with Derek and Miguel in saving it. Through Angela and Miguel the author illuminates further on how fate shapes individual lives. The three, Angela, Derek and Miguel help the reader realize the importance of media and technology in the country. Unity and oneness is also highlighted since the three come from different geographical locations. Another couple that helps in the development of the theme of environmental conservation is Billy Joe and Juliana. Through Billy the reader realizes the causes and effects of forest destruction. The reader is also meant to understand the importance of indigenous forests. The author though fails to show the reader what sculptors like Billy Joe will use in their work since they get arrested when they cut trees. He should have highlighted on the importance of planting more trees. Juliana’s Inn is very important in the development of the story. Local restaurants in rural set up help the residents know about current affairs. As illuminated in Terrorists of the Aberdare, Kinangop residents can only read the daily newspaper at the inn. In various parts of the country it is only in the shopping centre’s where villagers go to watch news maybe due to availability of electricity or they cannot afford Television due to poverty. It is also in this shopping centre’s where they discuss the local politics. Through the couples presented in the two works by Ng’ang’a Mbugua the author no doubt shows the importance of families in a 87
social set up illuminating also on the short comings brought about by poverty. The author also helps the reader understand the importance of art in educating a society. He seems to ridicule the stereotype associated to art and judgment of people by their physical outlook and place of origin. Ng’ang’a Mbugua in the two works has proposed education as an element that can be used for environmental conservation. In both the novel and the novella the author has highlighted education as very instrumental in environmental conservation. In Terrorists of the Aberdare he has presented its importance through a professor who understands the gravity of environmental degradation and has posted an article in the media. In Different Colours Miguel goes through a non formal education - Aprentship, to learn his art work. This helps Miguel to become a professional landscape painter which leads him to the discovery of the near destruction of the waterfall. The author seems to show the reader that non formal education is still important, at the artists’ colony in Lake. Maiposa as presented in Different Colours, the artists learn from one another, not just to paint but to also socialize. The herd’s boy in Terrorists of the Aberdare learns the value of some herbs through non-formal education.
Both the novel and the novella have been set in the Kenyan highlands as mentioned earlier. In Terrorists of the Aberdare the geographical setting is real (Kinagop) while in Different Colours the setting is fictional, (imagined). The characters presented in the two stories are rural folks whose ways of life have least been influenced by urbanization. In Different Colours though, those who come from other regions or leave the village are presented as more cosmopolitan and wild wise. In both books the author has created a local restaurant as earlier mentioned that seems to carry the gossips of the village. Most of the characters are naive and gullible.
The author has employed a lot of symbolism starting with the titles of the two works. Both titles as earlier mentioned are symbolic. They help conceptualize what is to be found in the two stories. Besides the titles some of the names given to the characters are characternym (they symbolize the behavior of the characters presented in Different Colours and Terrorists of the Aberdare). This means that the names portray the characteristics traits of the individual character. In Terrorists of the Aberdare some of the names include Mategwa Kunona whose second name is a Kiswahili word symbolizing fatness. His name is symbolic of wealth and power. He is a very rich character with immense land and a lot of money and property. Another character is Nyoks Ndarafufua the area Member of Parliament who’s second name is also a Swahili word meaning resurrect. Nyoks Ndarafufua seems very instrumental in giving the solution for environmental conservation in Kinangop and other parts of the country as well. He also promises to restore the road network thus resurrecting the tourism industry that has been inactive in the region. On a broader context Nyoks Ndarafufua represents development conscious individuals in Kenya. The road network in Kinangop also stands for other roadnet works in the country whose development translates to economic empowerment of a country. In Different Colours some of the names include Dik Teita (Dictator) in English who seem to literary command every individual in the village. Dik Teita is able to control the individuals in the village because of his wealth and the power he has immersed because of his money. Through a child view, the reader is meant to realize Dik Teita’s ogre like behavior in the interpretation of the narrative told to him by Miguel. Tenge, the young boy seems to be the only person who does not trust Dik Teita hence Dik Teita’s hatred for the boy. Angela minus the ‘a’ is angel in English language. In the novel she is presented as a very good person always ready to help. Her beauty is also compared to that of an angel. The author has also employed irony in naming some other characters. One such character is Sonko Wakadosi whose 89
name has been crafted from sheng language. Translated to English the name suggests a rich son by a rich father but ironically Sonko is an extremely poor individual from a poor back ground. The irony in Sonko Wakadosi’s life translates to the situational irony in Sonko Wakadosi’s life. Every thing seems to work against him. Apart from symbolic names of people, the author has also employed symbolic names of places; In Different colours some of the names include the Orange River and Banana County. By deliberately creating Orange River in Banana County, the author symbolizes unity in a country despite political and individual differences. Ng’ang’a seems to juxtapose the Orange and the Banana democratic movements during Kenya’s historical time, in the memorable fight for the referendum after two thousand and five general election with the Orange River in Banana County, in order to show that, despite political differences in a country oneness and harmony is possible. He seems to show that political differences do not necessarily have to create enemity and that for a nation to grow politicians should rise above their political differences. Citizens should also not be used by politicians to propagate their political differences and to divide the nation.
On style the author has employed a lot of humour but ascertained that his novel and novella remain realistic. He has done this by “writing in a manner so as to create an illusion of reality which tries to imitate the language of conversation” (Indangasi 117). In the two works the author has employed a lot of dialogue. Characters are in direct conversation with each other through out the stories. This makes his work more interesting and realistic making the characters live to the reader it also helps in the development of the plot. The dialogue further help the reader learn about the character traits and behavior of the individual characters presented in the stories. Apart from dialogue the reader is able to interpret some of the characters feelings, emotions and worries through interior monologue. Some of the characters use the local dialect to communicate. In 90
Different Colours Miguel uses words like Ilovi a local dialect for Nairobi mainly used by Kikuyu and Kamba communities in Kenya, Maskan a local dialect (a sheng) for a small house (cubicle). Regional dialect is employed in Terrorists of the Aberdare, a good example is “kiorire ni kiorire” Kikuyu words that translated to English would mean what has been lost has been lost. This is in reference to the attack on their cabbages by the elephants. From the local dialect used by Miguel, the reader is able to tell that he is urbanizined while the regional dialect helps the reader to understand that Doe Madirari is from the Kikuyu community in Kenya. In both the novel and the novella the author is no doubt calling upon the government to take more responsibility in care of the natural resources from wild life to other resources like waterfalls, sand, minerals and forests. The government should put permanent boundaries like electric fences around forests to ensure that the wild animals do not stray to nearby homes. For growth in wildlife population and salvation of some species, strict measures should be set in place against poachers. The game wardens should be more vigilant and at the same time those involved in corruption should be brought to book. The author is also calling upon the public and the communities living around natural resources to take responsibility since they are the immediate beneficiaries. Both the citizens and the government are stake holders of the natural resources. The author is further calling upon the government and other stake holders to improve on the infrastructure. Improvement in infrastructure will translate to improvement of the countries economy for example tourism. According to Kiprono “infrastructure especially roads will open up tourism in areas that were previously not visited. The number of visitors will thus increase which will be good for the country” (11).
The study has found out that in the 21st century there are more serious problems than the problem of colour line to echo Du bois. According to Ng’ang’a Mbugua environmental conservation needs to be tackled with urgency for the future generations, this is because environmental issues affect all regardless of age, gender class and race. Environmental issues also affect individuals regardless of their geographical location; however it is important to note that they strike more on the poor. It is equally important to note that women are more affected especially those living in rural areas because they are in constant interaction with nature. It is however important to note that, environmental conservation is more complicated than as presented by Ng’ang’a Mbugua in both Terrorists of the Aberdare and Different Colours, this is because of the poor woman who depends on forests for firewood. Other poor communities also depend on the same forests to burn charcoal and to dig small farms for sustainability. Third countries are however more affected than the west due to the colonial influence whose culture has been adopted by some elites. Capitalism, modernization and industrialization have been and still are the main cause for environmental degradation.
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