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Chapter Analyses

These are chapter analyses of the text.

CHAPTER ONE

In Nakuru town, Ole Kaelo, the former Commercial Manager of Agribix, has been retrenched and his family is preparing to leave the house in which they have lived for most of their lives. His two girls – Taiyo and Resian – are apprehensive and sceptical about moving to their new rural home in Nasila. Their belongings are carried in two lorries, while the family travels in a hired 14-seater matatu. On the way, one of the lorries breaks down and they have to stop for a while. They arrive in Nasila and are hosted by Ole Kaelo’s younger brother, Simiren and his four wives and sixteen children.

Discussion Points:

  • When we are first introduced to Ole Kaelo, we immediately realize how he leads by instilling fear in others. His two daughters are afraid of his hot-temper and savage tongue while his wife never dares to question him.
  • From this chapter, it is also evident that none of the characters is particularly excited about going back to Nasila. This situation has been forced on them by Ole Kaelo’s retrenchment. However, we must admire Ole Kaelo’s resilience and positive attitude when he says that his retrenchment was inevitable at some point and he was not going to feel sorry for himself.
  • We also get the first hint of a possible stormy relationship between Ole Kaelo and his daughters when we learn that he has refused to allow them to join Egerton University even though they are qualified and that he refused to allow Taiyo to attend a radio interview about her music talent.
  • It is also sad to note that the only reason why Ole Kaelo hates his daughter Resian is because she was not born a boy as he had hoped. This clearly demonstrates Ole Kaelo’s and by extension, his community’s attitude towards boys. Sons are seen as the only avenue to continue and cement a family’s legacy.
  • The lorry that breaks down on their way to Nasila is symbolic of the many obstacles that stand in the way of the family as it seeks to assimilate itself in the new culture.
  • Simiren knows that reintegrating into the community is not as easy as Ole Kaelo thinks. He’s concerned about how the people will treat Taiyo and Resian considering their “uncircumcised” states.

CHAPTER TWO

The next day, Taiyo and Resian wake up to the serenity and tranquillity of the countryside which sharply contrasts with the noisy atmosphere back in Nakuru. They are invited to take breakfast in the house of Yeiyoo Botorr, Simiren’s first wife, who introduces them to her co-wives and their sixteen children. After breakfast, the two girls decide to take a walk to survey their new neighbourhood. On their way back, they are accosted by a young man who roughs them up, threatens them and promises to return. The girls are shaken but decide not to tell their parents about their ordeal. Ole Kaelo decides to pay his old friend and mentor, Ole Sepuyo, a visit and reveals to him, his business deals with Oloisudori. Ole Sepuyo warns him about dealing with Oloisudori who is corrupt, immoral and a known thug. In the afternoon, the family moves into their new house which is only a kilometre away from Simiren’s.

Discussion Points

  • The contrast between the noisy urban environment that the girls were used to and the quiet ambience presented by their new surroundings is a mere veil to the turbulent affairs in Nasila.
  • We get to understand the different philosophies and attitudes that the two girls hold towards the family as an institution. While Taiyo thinks getting married and bearing as many children as one wants is important, Resian believes that education is more important and family should come later.
  • Taiyo and Resian do not want to be viewed as weak members of society yet they are vulnerable as is evidenced by the attack from a stranger. Their decision not to tell their parents of the incident may later come to haunt them.
  • Through Simiren’s family, we are given a sneak view of the polygamous family setup in the Maa culture and the value attached to wives and children.
  • Ole Sepuyo represents an attempt at balancing between upholding the strict dictates of traditional culture and embracing modernity. While he believes in female circumcision, the also takes his sons to school to enjoy formal education.
  • Women circumcision is compared to dehorning cattle. The men try to justify the practice by claiming that it is for their (cattle’s/women’s) own good. According to Ole Sepuyo, it is necessary to tame and “to reduce accidental injuries to each other”.
  • We see the theme of ‘change’, positively, when Ole Kaelo notices that the landscape that was once dotted with manyattas was now coloured with iron sheets. Negatively, though, the trees have been cut down in favour of barley and wheat.
  • Ole Kaelo is superstitious when he feels that revealing his deal with Oloisudori to Ole Sepuyo would lead to bad luck. He also comes out as corrupt when he feels that living a righteous life will get him nowhere, economically. He is so materialistic and stubborn that the warnings he gets from Ole Sepuyo about Oloisudori, fall on deaf ears.
  • The writer uses a lot of foreboding in this chapter. He gives the reader a hint of the impending danger ahead through Ole Sepuyo’s warnings and through the stranger’s attack on the girls.

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