Determination and Resilience

Determination is the strength of the mind to achieve a goal at whatever cost. In the text, many characters display a strong will to accomplish their set targets.

Akoko is, perhaps, the most resilient character in the text. From her childhood, her determination is seen when she even fights boys and older children to get whatever belongs to her. In adulthood, her determination is seen after the death of her husband and Otieno’s ascension to power. Otieno’s attempts to plunder Akoko’s wealth are met with stiff opposition that had previously never been seen in a woman. She goes to report him to the colonial government which ensures that she is given the stolen property.

Nyabera’s resilience and ability to overcome tragedy after tragedy shows her determination to succeed in life. She loses her brothers, father, husband, mother and children but finds strength to continue with life. Converting to Christianity gives her comfort and hope since she finds other heart-broken souls at Aluor Mission.

Peter Owuor Kembo is determined to join priesthood that he is ready to give up the Chiefdom. He is afraid that his decision to join priesthood will be opposed by Akoko but is surprised when Akoko tells him to follow his heart. His determination sees him go from altar boy to priest and later to Bishop of Kisumu.

Awiti’s determination enables her to endure a life of torment and taunts from boys and other people who think that education of girls is meaningless. After joining college, she overcomes all attempts by the young men to seduce her. This kind of determination and resilience earns her nicknames such as ‘nun’, ‘Virgin Mary’ and ‘church mouse’ but it also enables her to complete her studies.

Determination is evident in the Sigu household. The children, especially Vera, Tony and Aoro, are determined to succeed at school. Vera works hard and earns a place at a National school and later university. After the quarrel with his father, Aoro is determined to work hard in school and he joins university to pursue medicine. Tony works hard to go to Aoro’s school and is determined to become a priest like his uncle, Peter Kembo. Becky is determined to become an air hostess despite her father’s opposition.

Aoro is determined in her pursuit of Wandia and even when she defeats him in Anatomy, he still wants them to be friends. Both Wandia and Aoro are determined to become doctors and they have to undergo difficulties as interns in Nairobi and Machakos respectively.

The ‘river’ that was started by Akoko is determined to go on flowing till the end. At some point, the river is reduced to a trickle after the death of Obura and Owang’ Sino but through Nyabera and Awiti, the river is rejuvenated.

Discussion points

  • Does Mark Sigu display any determination/resilience?
  • Identify characters in the novel that are not determined or resilient.
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