THE BLACK HERMIT by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o
TITLE: THE BLACK HERMIT
PLAYWRIGHT: NGUGI WATHIONG’O
SETTING: UGANDA AFTER INDEPENDENCE
The Black hermit is a play that talks about how some people run away from their problems hence cause deaths in the society. The book also talks about ignorant people who solve their problems by killing themselves in the society.
Besides, this book talks about that to bring changes is not an overnight process; it needs patience, courage and determination especially where there is ignorance among the societal members.
A hermit is a person who usually for religious reasons lives a very simple life alone and does not meet or talk to other people. He is also someone who lives far away from home or simply known as stranger.
A hermitage is the place where a hermit lives or lived. In the play, the title is related to the main character Remi. It is revealed that the main character Remi is the first man to go to the university from his tribe, has decided to run away from the outdated customs and traditions such as inheritance of widows, he thus goes to the city.
Remi lives the life of solitude (loneliness) and he wanted to be away from the customs and tribal ways of his clan, the Marua tribe.
Therefore, the playwright labels Remi as a hermit. As said earlier that the hermit is the person who lives a lonely life in order to dedicate his life to serve in the church, particularly the Roman Catholic Church.
During the colonial and soon after independence, most of the hermits in Africa were white that is European especially the white missionaries who left their families in Europe and dedicated their lives in Africa in the mission of colonizing and civilizing Africans. In this case, the playwright refers Remi as the BLACK HERMIT because he is a black African who runs away from his own people that are the Marua people.
He lives in the city till when the pastor goes to plead him to go back home. Generally, it is worth rewarding to argue that the title of the play is fundamentally the carbon copy of its contents.
In the play, the title is related to the main character Remi. It is revealed that the main character Remi is the first man to go to the university from his tribe, has decided to run away from the outdated customs and traditions such as inheritance of widows, he thus goes to the city. Remi lives the life of solitude (loneliness) and he wanted to be away from the customs and tribal ways of his clan, the Marua tribe.
The playwright has used Remi as the main character in this play. Remi loved a girl (Thoni) in his village but he was shy to tell her what was burning in his heart. He tried to confide in his mind that he would tell her. But to his misfortune, the same day he received a letter from home informing him that she and his brother were to be married.
Remi was so hurt by that. Later he reconciled himself and condoned everything such that the girl no longer meant anything to him. Few months after marriage (hardly six months) his brother died. He was crushed by a motor-car.
Then his father fell ill as a result of the shock following the death of Remi’s brother. While in his illness, he called Remi to his bed and told Remi to marry Thoni, his brother’s widow. The father told Remi “You know our custom. Your brother’s wife is now your wife.” Remi refused to marry her.
Remi did not believe that Thoni really loved him because she had already identified her love to his brother. Later he decided to go to the city as a hermit, to escape from the tribal pressure that required him to marry Thoni.
After reaching the city he was employed as a clerk in Oil Company. He began receiving the salary but could not send it home. Remi changed in the city. He became bold with girls. He began indulging into all sorts of luxurious life. He got a white girl friend (Jane) with whom he kept on visiting the nightclubs in the city.
Having spent long time in the city, his mother (Nyobi) and his wife (Thoni) became so unhappy and hence the mother decided to consult the pastor so that he could help them getting Remi back from the city.
The village people were also in need of him to come back to the village. They considered him to be their savior who could save them out of exploitation, land alienation and all sorts of vices exercised by the government. They sent the elders to go and convince him to come back.
Also the pastor went to convince him to come back. Later he gradually began realizing that he had run away from his own responsibilities. He had become a hermit. Remi said “I’d thought I would escape from things that were me. They were part of my life. I must now rise and go to the country. For I must serve our people, save them from traditions and bad customs, free them from tribal manacles now”.
He then told his girl friend Jane that he wanted to go back because his tribe needed him. For instance he says, “My tribe calls. I no longer want to be hermit in the city” Jane was so angry and began blaming him why he had deceived him that they would marry. She told him that he was supposed to have told her the truth. Hiding was a sign of weakness in Remi.
Remi went back to the village with his friend Omange. Being in the village he began blaming the villagers for being tribalists and the pastor for having divided the people with his church, thus making people weak. He then urged them to live together and work without raising some differences among them so that they could solve their problems and develop. He told people to forget about tribalism and urged them to turn to the soil (Work in the farms), to build more schools, to unite and to work hard in order to create a new nation.
He later blamed his mother so sarcastically saying that she had made him marry a woman who loved another man. Remi spoke badly about Thoni that she didn’t even care to listen to what he had to say.
He finally realized that he had been too harsh with people and to Thoni, never giving her a chance, and thus causing her death, this happens when Thoni commits suicide. At the climax of the play
The play has the following characters
He is a main character in the play
He is an educated man in Uganda as he attended a university education
He is shown by the writer as a Christianity follower before getting formal education but after his a university education he changed and started following ladies.
He loves un educated girl. This is shown on the way he was in love to Thoni but felt shy and fear to tell her the truth that he real love her. But plan to tell her when he will return back from the college
He felt bad after learning that Thoni, the girl he loved has been married by his own brother. This creates problems towards him and start thinking that all girls are nothing to him.
He refuses to inherit Thoni when his brother died due to being knocked by a motor car six months after their marriage.
He decides to leave from his home village and goes to live in town as the way of escaping from the customs that that forces him to inherit his brother’s wife
He becomes a clerk in an oil company located in Kampala city.
He starts enjoying of education in the city through the salary he earns out from his job
He is Omage’s friend in the city as they discuss political issues together.
He is against tribalism as he wants to unite the Ugandans without regarding tribes to make all stand together in opposing land alienation and many other evils done by new Ugandan government
He starts living a luxurious life by attending night clubs in the city as well as drinking wine
He becomes polished with girls as he meet Jane (a European lady) and approaching her and finally becomes her boy friend.
He later betrays his girl friend (Jane) after deciding to go back at his home village following different attempts made by elders and pastors who frequently follow him (Remi) in town and asking him to go back home
He is irresponsible educated man as he fails to tell his fellow Ugandans like his father Ngome about the effects of widows inheritance especially in this current life where there is deadly disease, HIV/AIDS instead he runs away to the city Kampala and becomes a hermit
He is choosen by fellow Ugandans to be their saviours but he uses bitter words to help them to the extent that he causes death to some including Thoni
He brings changes in Uganda by using wrong approach. For example, he unified different tribes using force and abusive language. Also, he refuses to be Thoni”s husband by using bad language later he causes Thoni to kill herself.
He does not respect his parents like his father, Ngome. This happens when he refuses to inherit Thoni while he is told by his father to do so.
She is Remi’s mother as well as late Ngome’s wife
She is a widow as her husband , Ngome died due to the shock caused by the death of Remi’s brother, Thoni’s husband
She is a good Christianity followers but little superstitious. This happens when she is requested by elders and leaders to bless Marua medicine which can help to return Remi back home from the city. Also, in case of Christianity, she is shown as a Christianity follower as she requests a pastor to go in the city with a bible to convince Remi to return back home so as to be a good religious leader.
. She has internal conflicts following Remi’s disappearance. She has written many letters to him but no reply
She is a good family care as she provides family basic needs (requirements) like food, shelter and clothing to her children like her daughter – in- law Thoni.
She has emotional feelings due the problems which face her. For example, her husband is dead, son, Remi’s brother and Remi’s runs mother.
. She is a Christian but not completely strong since she even blessed traditional medicine which was brought by the elders. She is also in need of Remi to come back and sends the pastor to convince him.
She becomes annoyed when Remi attacks her in public. She also gets frustrated following the disappearance of Thoni
She represents women who care so much about the well being of the family and other people. She takes care of Thoni advises her to take another husband.
She is a Ugandan lady who is beautiful naturally
She is uneducated girl in Uganda because she never attend formal education
She kills herself because her brother-in-law, Remi refuses to inherit her after the death of her husband six months ahead after their marriage
She is a tolerant girl because she waits Remi for many years so as they can live together as husband and wife.
She is an ignorant girl in Uganda because she solves her problems by committing suicide instead of seeking different ideas from wise people or to become patient as the way to minimize her problem of not been inherited by Remi her ice heart.
She has true love as seen on the way she loves Remi so much and decides to commit suicide when Remi refuses to marry her. This is a sign of real love.
She is a rationalist girl as she agrees to be inherited by her brother-in-law, Remi
He is Remi’s father as well as Nyobi’s husband and Thoni’s father-in-law
He is a tradionaliist as he tells Remi, his son to inherit Thoni, who is Remi’s sister-in-law
He dies due to the shock caused by the death of his son Remi’s brother six months ahead after their marriage
He is Remi’s friend in the City. He is from another tribe, Njobe tribe. He is wise and aware of racialism, tribalism and religious factions, which have increased since independence. He wants the state to act. According to him, The Trade Union should be given the right to strike. He says the masses should be the cornerstone of the development process and there shouldn’t be over dependence on foreign aid. He sees Remi to be so strange for leaving the country to tribalists and corrupt men.
He therefore exposes irresponsibility within Remi. He blames Remi for not having given chance to Thoni so that she could express herself and make him understand her disposition towards him and even himself show his disposition towards her. He also advises Remi to go back home. He goes with him.
He insists on the need of eradicating illiteracy in order to succeed in the process of fighting against tribalism and racialism. So he is aware that education is necessary for change. He blames Thoni for being so quiet for those years. She should have written a letter since long time to make Remi understand. According to him, not only is Remi having problems but also Thoni has problems. It was her responsibility to assure Remi that she loved him.
He tells Remi not to blame himself for whatever might happen with Thoni since it was a mistake; he never knew that she loved him. He takes Remi to be a true nationalist. Remi to go back home from the city in order to serve for Ugandans against new government
She is a European lady who lives in the city, Kampala.
She is a modernity woman as she attends night clubs where she meets with Remi. She lives luxurious life like her boyfriend Remi
She is a woman with own decision as she run away from Remi when Remi betrays her.
She is a very strong woman as she manages to protest against Remi’s tendency of betraying her by calling him (REMI) as a weaker person for having been wasting her time without marrying her. As a result she runs away (out of Remi’s room). This is contrary to Toni who decides to kills herself when Remi refuses to inherit her
She is an educated woman as she uses her education to escape from the betrayers Remi made to her
Remi’s white girlfriend in the city. She loves Remi but not aware that he is having a wife back in the village. She is ready to live with Remi despite her races.
She later gets annoyed to learn that Remi is married but did not tell her. She calls Remi a weak man and tells him to go back to his tribe.
She is courageous and wise. She doesn’t take poor decisions like Thoni who decided to kill herself as if it is a solution. She tells Remi that he was supposed to have told her before.
So to her Remi is a cheat and takes himself to be superior to other people and has egocentric (individualistic idea) as he does not think about others and their plight.
They are superstitious as they blame other tribes that they bewitched their son, Remi. Also, they decide to carry a traditional medicine marua so as it can help them to convince Remi to go back home from the city.
They are tribalism as seen being blamed by Remi that they are supposed to solve their problems caused by new Ugandan government.
They are shown as people who have low thinking capacity (ignorance). This is because, they think about Remi should be there in order to be their savior and not themselves
They fail to convince Remi return back home despite using their marua traditional medicines.
They want Remi back in their village.
They decide to follow him (Remi) since they consider him to be their savior.
They are traditionalists and they believe in magic power of the Marua medicine. They go to Remi with Marua medicine to convince him to come back. They strongly believe that the medicine will influence him and decide to come back to the village so that he can serve them.
They don’t want him to be influenced by the Christians and they want to keep him away from them.
He is a religious leader in Uganda.
He is a strong Christian. He influenced Remi to be a God-fearing child.
He is blamed by Remi as a leader who creates disunity in Uganda. For example, they have failed to unite their worshippers (followers)
He is blamed by Remi as a leader who does not use the word of God (Gospel) to bring peace and security in Uganda instead, he creates classes. This is evidenced by looking on how the worshippers and non worshippers land are taken by new Ugandan government
He wins (manages) to convince Remi to return back home from the city using the Gospel (the word of God).
He is also unhappy with Remi’s disappearance into the city. He thinks that he might be spoilt by the city. He also does not want him to join politics. He is strongly against traditional beliefs. He goes to convince him to come back to the village. He also advises him to accept Thoni as his wife.
She is a concerned person and wise. She also loves Thoni and wants Remi to come back to her. She advises Thoni to be calm. She blames Remi for insulting the elders, women and even belittling or degrading Thoni to the point of causing her death. She is also cooperative since she participates in looking for Thoni when she disappeared.
THEMES FROM THE PLAY
The play, The Black Hermit has the following themes
refers to the state where people treat each other by regarding the same tribe. It may also refer to the behavior or attitude that is based on being loyal to a tribe or other social group.. In the play, the playwright has shown that Elders and leaders are said to be tribalists as they fail to stand together so as to oppose land alienation done by new government in Uganda. Worse enough, they keep on blaming other tribes by claiming that they have bewitched their son, Remi.
The practice of tribalism in Tanzania happens in case of physical appearance, economic status, religious issues and educational levels. In actual fact tribalism acts as an obstacle in many things as it can bring social, political as well as economical problems. Thus the roots of tribalism should be uprooted in our society so as to bring welfare to the people as well as having sustainable development.
This refers to act of lacking togetherness in a particular issue among family or community members. In this play it is clearly shown that most of Ugandans led by elders and leaders have no unity hence they fail to challenge the new government in Uganda which has taken their land and many other properties.
Also, pastor has seen creating disunity between his worshippers like Nyobi and pagans like elders in Uganda. The consequence (effects) of this has resulted to people’s failure to stand together to oppose evils done by the new government in Uganda.
Disunity among the people acts as an obstacle to peoples’ development even here in Tanzania because where there is disunity causes the concerned person not to share what they have, they can’t encourage one another on economic matter and above all they may cause political instability of a given country. It is a rationale that people maintain unity and solidarity to bring about good development.
This refers to a state where one struggles in any situation so as to achieve a particular goal. In most cases, tolerance involves patience. In this play, the playwright has revealed that Thoni is a tolerant woman as she waits Remi (her brother-in-law) so long time so that one day they will live together as husband and wife.
Also, Thoni maintains her patience by not finding other men. This is because she real loves Remi. In our recent society like Tanzania and beyond, there is no doubt that the tolerance is practiced. Women tend to be patient when it comes that their husbands are excessive alcohol takers and too much womanizers.
Also, despite the presence of variation in religion, religious people in mosques and churches tend to preach on religious tolerance. Tolerance is something we should emulate (Cope) from our childish hood in order to create an element of mutual love among ourselves.
This refers to the state where by one becomes very kind by not being or adopting hypocritical words and abuse language that may embarrass others. In the play, the playwright has shown this using Nyobi, remi’s mother.
Nyobi is said to be hospital as she takes care of her daughter-in-law, Thoni by advising her to get married to another man in a politely manner. This happens when Nyobi realizes that Remi (her son) has no idea of returning back home from the city as such Nyobi creates mercy (sympathy) to Thoni.
She does this because she does not wants to see Thoni staying alone without a man while as a real woman it is true that she needs a man to live with. The practice of hospitality is evident in our society where we live in because people have been in a front line to solve people’s problems by taking care of others.
They also help one another when it comes the point where the point that some members within the society real want such help.
This refers to the state where by a man takes a woman after the death of her husband. In the play it is a common practice among the marua society because they believe that your brother’s wife is your wife.
To this Remi refuses to inherit his sister-in-law, Thoni after the death of his brother. He knows this issue of taking one’s wife can be a source of HIV/AIDS transmission. This results into a conflict between Remi and his father Ngome where Remi decides to run away from home at the city Kampala as a hermit.
The cultural practice of inheriting widows is seen in some of the societies Tanzania in particular as a result women are being neglected their rights of choosing the husband they real love and also their miss love and affection in their life. It is high time to abandon it in order to provide a friendly environment to women.
This refers to the belief in witchcraft. Or it is a belief in super natural power. In the play, the playwright shows that Elders and leaders among the Marua society are said to be superstitious.
This is because they believe in traditional medicine (marua) that can help Remi to return back home from Kampala. We see that when elders go to Remi, one of them carries a bundle of medicine wrapped in the banana leaves; on going away he leaves it at the doorway.
The elders also believe that the neighboring villages have bewitched them because of jealousy. They believe that they are not pleased with the successful trend of Remi and that of their village. They think that Remi might bring great developmental.
Such beliefs are so common in many part of East Africa and are non-development. They are so caused by ignorance of the people in the villages due to illiteracy syndrome.
In our society the belief of superstition causes serious danger as many people engage themselves in it as a result of different factors including social, political economical as well as cultural matters.
Equally important, there are some people who get children and wealth by fulfilling the conditions such as sleeping naked at the grave yard, killing their relatives, also politicians tend to kill Albinos with the belief of winning elections. We should get away from superstitious tendency since it is of any benefit.
This refers to lack of knowledge or information about different things that take place in the society. For example, in this play, it has been shown that Thoni, Remi’s sister-in-law is said to be an ignorant woman as she decides to kill herself as the way to solve her problems.
This event happens when Remi refuses to marry her while Thoni loves him so much. This is a sign of ignorance because one cannot solve problems by killing herself/himself. Ignorance acts an obstacle to many people because many people tend harm (endanger) themselves thinking as the way to address problems that face them. There is a need for the society to find alternative ways of addressing their problems.
The term irresponsibility simply refers to the situation in which people do not think deeply about the effects of what they do and in most cases it is an act of not showing the feelings of responsibilities. In the book for example, Remi who is an educated man is said to be an irresponsible man as he runs away from his problems of widow inheritance to the main city in Kampala.
The decision he made is a sign of irresponsibility because his assigned duty would be to solve it by telling the Ugandans like his father about the effects of widow inheritance especially in this current life where there is deadly disease, HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Irresponsibility is not a good thing particularly to the educated people towards their community because it contributes to psychological torture, family disintegration and limits development within the society. Educated people together with those leaders who are in power should always be concerned with the well being of their fellow men.
Influence of Education
Education raises political awareness into Remi. He joins the Africanist Party and is an active politician. He realizes the dangers of tribalism, racism and religious factions for the building of the nation as a whole.
He sees that the government after independence has not brought benefits to all people. His education gives him his job, but he becomes aware that the Oil Companies exploit his country.
On the other hand his education makes him proud and boasting feeling superior to the villagers (arrogant), he wants to abolish all tribal customs at once and introduce the modern life style without giving his mother and doesn’t talk to Thoni. This is arrogance and despise as a result of negative influence of education.
Thoni has illusion of living a happy life with Remi once he comes back. She even decides to wait for him and does not want to go to another man. The elders and other villages consider Remi to be their sole savior who can save them from the ordeals they are encountering.
They want him to come back such that they even send the elders to go to the city to convince him to come back and help them. When he comes they receive him so tumultuous and even sing the National Anthem. They are hopeful that he will save them.
Pastor expects that Remi will come and lead the church, which might be true or not true. But we find that it is not the way the pastor expects. Nyobi believes that Remi has not changed since he was a strong Christian, God-fearing child. But he has already changed.
Remi has a strong determination and courage to attack vices in the society. He doesn’t give up the struggle against disunity and tells people to unite and build more schools and hospitals so that they can develop. Despite being young he convinces people to join the party and makes them consider him as their savior.
As a result of his determination he decides to go back to the village and join his people in the village but he is too fast in his struggle for changes. Education has also given him confidence to attack any challenging situation and he is even no longer shy to face girls. He also boldly attacks the elders and the pastor simply because he is more educated that anybody in that village.
The author portrays the aspect of leadership in the play. Remi is presented to be a good leader. He is an active Party member and convinces many others to join the party. People want him and regard him as their savior.
They expect him to save them from problems of taxation, land alienation and forced community work. He wants people to unite but his weakness is on the approach he has used to solve the problems. He attacks people rather than discussing with them. His sarcastic approach annoys the people.
Other leaders and the pastor are not good leaders since they have created tribalism, racialism and religious factions leading to disunity.
There are several conflicts, which can be analyzed as follows:
Between the Elders (traditionalists) and the pastor as well as other Christians
This is conflict or contradiction: when discussing about the coming back of Remi. The elders want Remi to be on their side, lead them as a tribe to victory. Since they listened to him when he urged them to join the Africanists Party, they now expect him to be loyal to them. They see that Christianity can be of bad influence on Remi and say that Remi must be kept away from the pastor and his mother.
The pastor wants Remi to be the future leader of the church. He sees political work as something bad and urges that he should be kept away from the tribal influence. This contradiction aggravates segregation and disunity among the people.
Between Remi against his mother Remi and his mother are in conflict since she supports the idea of marrying Thoni who was someone’s wife. Because of this he decides to run away to the city. Again the mother becomes angry and reacts to him when attacks her in public on the question of making him marry Thoni.
Between Remi against Jane; They are in bad terms after Remi says that he wants to go back but is not ready to take Jane to his family due to race and also due to the fact that he is married. Jane becomes furious since Remi has wasted her time deceiving her that they could marry.
Jane criticizes Remi on talking about Jane being different from him and from the tribe. She says, “You? Do you honestly believe that race matters, that the colour of my skin or yours should form a barrier between people?” When she learns that he is marred she blames him, “But why didn’t you tell me right from the beginning?
Jane shows her negative attitude on Remi’s decision to run away from his people. She tells him that he was supposed to stay with them. So she considers him a weak person who runs away from his responsibilities. She tells Remi “Only that you like thinking yourself a delicate being, superior and so much better that anybody else. “Then their relationship breaks and runs out.
Contradiction between Remi and Omange; Remi wants the government in a newly independent country to be strict e.g. people should not have the right to oppose the government. Workers should not have the right to strike for higher wages. But Omange opposes him.
Omange wants Trade Unions to have the right to strike and demand for their rights. People should be given what they want. He says “A trade Union without the right to strike is like a lion without claws and teeth”.
Also on the question over Thoni, Remi believes that Thoni does not love him and does not justify that vies. Omange tells him that he is supposed to give her chance to express herself since one cannot know someone’s feeling by mere appearance.
Between Remi against his Tribe members; Remi has caused conflict between him and the tribe members because of talking to them in a bad way, not politely. He does not explain why they should quit tribalism, religion and opposition. He rather commands them he also wants the old traditions to be abolished at once- too quickly. He refused to marry Thoni as tribal custom, thus causing her death.
People had illusions and did not expect that he could do so and hence they are annoyed. The woman says “You are a leader! Our leader indeed know you not what you have done? Flung insults at your own tribe. …….have you done to the lives of many?”
Intra-personal conflict; Nyobi is not happy with the death of her husband, her first son and the disappearance of Remi. She is worried that he might also have died. She has written many letters but there is not reply. Nyobi talks to herself “This world is really bad, not the same as the old when sons still gave respect to parents, honoring claims of motherhood; many letters have we now sent to him, but no reply. Not a word from him, a child I bore”. So this shows that she is so unhappy and full of dilemma about the mystical disappearance of her son.
She is also unhappy with the way Thoni lives in loneliness, thinking of Remi. She advises her to get another husband but Thoni refuses to move from one husband to another husband. She says that she can wait even for twenty years.
Thoni too is having internal conflict since Remi had disappeared and it forebodes that he does not love her. She tells Nyobi “It’s not you he hates; it’s my flesh and bed”. She continues on complaining “Why do men not rest in my hands? Death took away my first husband. Now the next, his brother, has left me. The hut’s gloom and loneliness, has started eating into me”.
When she hears of the coming of Remi she develops some dilemma in her. She is worried that he might be different and refuse to live with her. At first, she shows some happiness with illusions that her husband is coming to join her and promises to live well with him, but later she develops some worries telling Nyobi that he might be different.
Remi intensifies her internal-conflict after giving annoying words directed to her. She becomes ashamed and decides to move away. After her disappearance, she is brought back dead.
Remi is also having internal conflicts due to the problems of the society. He is unhappy with tribalism, racialism and religious factions that have led to disunity in the country. He therefore wants people to unite. In trying to bring unity he takes a wrong approach that annoys many people in the village.
He is also unhappy with the families and tribe’s that Thoni’s love still dwells on his brother who has already died. This makes him blame his mother and then annoys Thoni leading to her death.
After the death of Thoni, Remi is also frustrated or unhappy after learning that Thoni loves him but he has not given her chance to prove it to him. He blames himself for being the cause of her death.
Position of women
This refers to both responsibilities and status of woman in family in particular and in the society at large.
A woman is portrayed by the playwright in different positions both positive and negative ones as follows;
Women are shown by Ngugi as tolerant people in the society. for example, Thoni waits her lover, Remi a long time so as one day she may live together with him as wife and husband
Also, women are portrayed as people who take care of the family in the society. for example, Nyobi takes care of her children like her daughter-in-law, Thoni. She provides basic needs to them like food, clothing and shelter after the death of her husband Ngome and her son, remi’s brother.
Furthermore, women are revealed as people who are widow. This is shown citing to Nyobi who remains alone with her children like daughter-in-law, Thoni after the death of her husband.
women are portrayed as the victims of bad traditions and customs in their respective societies, people who are humiliated and oppressed by men, for example in the play, Thoni is heard saying that “ can’t go back to a house of shame and humiliation”
Also, women are portrayed as people who are patient and have true and real love as well as faithful. This is evident when Thoni waits for Remi for so long that she does not elope with other men. This shows responsibility.
They are also portrayed as hard workers who undertake family responsibilities. For example at the so very beginning of the play, a hut in the country, Thoni kneels on the floor near the hearth sorting out beans spread in a basin, and just in flash, her mother in-law (Nyobi) enters carrying a water barrel which she puts down in a corner.
LESSONS (MESSAGE) FROM THE PLAY
From the play one can learn the following:
After independence things were not as good as people expected among many countries especially in Africa. Even now there are still some problems of tribalism, racialism and religious factions looming in many countries. For example tribalism is evident in Kenya, Uganda and even in Nigeria leading to civil wars. Tribalism in Tanzania can be seen in different places of the economy and social sectors. During employment one can find being employed on the basis of tribal orientation even if does not qualify.
Religious tensions still exist in many countries even in Tanzania. This is manifested by the presence of the security agents around churches like the St. Joseph’s Church of Dar es Salaam. This is due to religious conflicts among people. Some churches are being attacked or bombarded by people from other religious orientations.
Bringing changes in the society is not an overnight process. It is a struggle that needs time, determination, direction and patience. People are supposed to be united and they are the ones who should be involved in the struggle. Success in the struggle will be brought by the people themselves who expect to benefit from it.
No once from outside, however strong he or she may be can make other people success if the people in the nation are just idle. Remi in the play stresses that people should be united and forget about their difference. Therefore people are supposed to be committed, united, courageous and diligent when they want to solve their problems.
Since struggle for changes is not an overnight process, people should be educated so as to acquire the wider spectrum of understanding why they have to struggle, how and when to start struggling for changes. When one wants to organize for changes should be careful in mobilizing people since he/she can easily cause confusion if not well organized.
One should use an appropriate approach especially that which allows the participation of the local people since they are the ones who know best the nature of the problems prevailing. During struggle there should be discipline, intelligence, direction and patience.
One should not run away from problems or responsibilities since he/she can cause greater problems, which can even, affect him/her. A person is supposed to be bold and face challenges in cooperation with other members of the society.
Remi running away to the city was a wrong approach. As he goes we find that he gives room to the occurrence of even greater problems that affects even him. He frustrates people, his mother and late causes Thoni’s death. But also Thoni’s decision to commit suicide is not a good decision.
We don’t solve problems by committing suicide but by being patient and discuss together as a family or a society. She was supposed to be patient, confident and wise. She was supposed to know that Remi was too harsh and hence was over reacting to everybody not only Thoni. Should all people decide to commit suicide in the village? Should her mother also commit suicide after being attacked so sarcastically by him? Should Jane, his girl friend in the city commit suicide?
Remi has some weakness in his approach. The lack of proper stand and low understanding as well as being too fast makes him fail to solve problems. He is seen at the beginning as a stronger believer in Christ then he leaves and joins politics. When he finishes his studies he runs to the city to avoid tribal disturbances.
He goes back to the tribe and finds so many problems, which frustrates him. He goes back to the tribe and finds so many problems, which frustrates him. So one should have a specific stand and be focused. It is individualistic tendency of Remi that makes him keep on moving from place to place.
This play is a tragedy since it ends with the death of Thoni caused by the use of bad language by Remi whom she has been waiting for a long time. The death comes following the disillusionment or disappointment she gets after being attacked before the public.
Her death causes more frustration; even Remi is frustrated and blames himself for having not given her time to make him understand her love towards him. So everybody is no longer at ease. Everybody is unhappy.