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Ngugi wa Thiong'o's "The River Between"

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  • Essay length: 1661 words
  • Submitted: 02/07/2009
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University Degree Literary Criticism

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Ngugi wa Thiong'o's "The River Between"

"The River Between" is a novel by Ngugi wa Thiong'o, a Kenyan novelist, playwright and essayist (formerly known as James Ngugi). All through his literary career, Ngugi has revealed his unwavering concern with the struggle, of Kenya in particular and of the whole Africa in general, against colonialism and imperialism in all their shapes.

"The River Between" is Ngugi's first novel in composition. It revolves around the life of a Kikuyu boy, Waiyaki, who is endowed with leadership potentialities that appear early in his childhood. His father, Chege, equips him with a knowledge of his tribal heritage and then sends him to a Mission school, advising him to learn the white man's wisdom and to avoid being contaminated by his vices. Due to the complications of the controversy about female circumcision, Waiyaki has to stop going to his Mission school, but his enthusiastic belief in the importance of education does not in any way wane, and he champions a campaign to establish local schools. Owing t his preserving efforts in this regard, he becomes a leader of his community, but the conflict between Christian converts and tribal purists precipitates his downfall.

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