Theme Of Betrayaly In Ngugi's A Grain Of Wheat

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Ngugi’s novel A Grain of Wheat is concerned with fashioning a national consciousness through a shared historical experience. He weaves in a labyrinth of betrayals in order to show the sacrifices made during the struggle of independence. Unless his characters acknowledge their mutual betrayal and that their unresolved individual pasts recover from their burden, a collective consciousness remains dubious. The question that lingers is how might one be able to achieve this collectivity in a world where the political structure strategically disconnects and pits individuals against one another, ushering them toward betrayal in order to sustain its power? Is betrayal irrevocably rooted in the colonialist ideology and used as a strategy to destroy …show more content…
They betray their community, their nation and their friends during the Mau Mau struggle which hurts and haunts them and further tears their society apart, alienating them from each other. Ngugi’s own comments reflect the extent of the adverse consequences that the State of Emergency brings: “The terrible thing about the “Mau Mau” war was the destruction of family life, distrust of personal relationships; you found a friend betraying a friend; you found a father suspicious of his son, a brother doubling the sincerity of a brother” (Homecoming, 7). Gikonyo, during his detention, breaks his oath, and thus betrays the movement. Mumbi does not remain faithful to Gikonyo by giving in to Karanja’s sexual advances. Karanja seduces Mumbi and collaborates with the colonizer and is thus, seen as a traitor. Mugo betrays Kihika and the movement. None of these characters are guiltier than the other, one cannot say with confidence that one form of betrayal outweighs the other. Ngugi does not seem to be interested in locating where most guilt accrues or in promoting hasty judgements. Instead, he is concerned with colonialism and its residual destructive force, and is attentive to the way in which betrayal is perpetuated through avoidance, inevitably leading to further social estrangement initiated by colonialism. The past …show more content…
They killed Rev. Jackson and Teacher Maniu. If I work for him, the government will catch me. The whiteman has long arms. And they’ll hang me. My God, I don’t want to die” (GW). He does not wish to be in allegiance with anybody. Mugo lacks any kind of understanding of the struggle of his people or the issues at stake. Such an understanding could only be possible if he were tied in one way or another to family or community or to an understanding of a national consciousness. This notion of a binding force is expressed through Kihika, “But what is an oath? For some people you need the oath to bind them to the movement” (GW 167). Mugo is also motivated by what he sees lacking in himself but what is present in Kihika, : Kihika had everything; Mugo had nothing. This thought obsessed him; it filled him with a foamless fury, a tearless anger, that obliterated other things and made him unable to sleep” (169-170). As evident through these three characters, collective consciousness is hampered as the nation transitions into independence. Personal struggles can become destructive forces which undermine the endeavours of national freedom. Through the several characters and various forms of betrayal, Ngugi examines the meaning and responsibilities of individual and collective commitment to revolution. He shows that personal struggles run counter to the collective endeavours of the freedom movement and results in crippling

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