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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.

CHAPTER 3

Ole Kaelo ushers his family into the newly constructed house. The Kaelo’s are elated by the new house. In a flashback, Mama Milanoi remembers how she was married by Ole Kaelo while she was eighteen and he was twenty-four years old. The couple had enjoyed peace generally since then but since she does not have a son, Mama Milanoi feels she has failed her husband. In a dialogue, we learn that Taiyo and Resian are afraid of undergoing F.G.M and wish to go back to Nakuru and join university. In a dramatic irony, we realize that Ole Kaelo had been hard and cruel to Resian for he expected a son to be born in her place. Although Taiyo does not understand the cause of the hatred, she always defended her sister devotedly even when her mother did not offer any protection.

CHAPTER 4

Ole Kaelo holds a big celebration party as way welcoming him back to the Nasila community. Members from the five Maa clans: Ilmolelian, Ilmakesen, Ilukumae, Ilaiser and illtarosero are invited. The Kaelo’s belong to the Ilmolelian clan. The Ole Kaelo’s are very actively involved in the preparation of the homecoming ceremony. During the dances, Taiyo is attracted to, a young primary school music teacher, Joseph Parmuat but they belong to the same clan and forging any intimate relationship is an abomination. A carnival mood is witnessed during the party for the generous Kaelo, has offered plenty of foodstuffs.

In the dance Taiyo’s talent is brought forth for she is really attracted to the song and dance. We learn that she has always done well in music festivals too. Unfortunately, her father denied her a chance to go for a music extravaganza in Mombasa which would have developed her talent. Lastly, a village elder called Musanka leads in the blessing section. He calls upon the community to welcome the Kaelo’s back home. Kaelo is advised to involve himself in the community affairs and Nasila. He is also advised to take care of his family and children.

CHAPTER 5

Taiyo and Resian are distressed. Resian feels Taiyo is taking too long before broaching the issue of their university studies with their father. The issue of FGM makes the two girls have a sleepless night. Taiyo is also disturbed by the cultural law that does not allow her relationship with Joseph Parmuat, the primary school teacher and a music enthusiast. The two girls cry a lot that night. The day before, Joseph had promised to visit her and also coach her in traditional music. The thought of enkamuratani (circumciser) and Olmurunya (circumcising blade) makes Taiyo shudder with dread. In Resian’s mind it is clear that enkamuratani and her Olmurunya cannot have their way with her, maybe over her dead body.

Contrastingly Kaelo and his wife enjoy a great night after the day of the great party and blessings.  They feel fulfilled for the great achievement, getting welcomed as well as being blessed.  In her morning thoughts, Mama Milanoi is at a dilemma, whether to force the girls to undergo the ritual and lose their faith, love and confidence or refuse to yield to the traditions and become a pariah in the Ilmolelian clan. Kaelo authoritatively states his demands; mama Milanoi is to counsel her daughters in preparations for circumcision while he is to ask Parmuat to teach the girls about the Nasila tradition and later enkamuratani to be called to do her part. Mama Milanoi interrogatively reflects on her stand and that of her family.  She feels her husband is turning into a deep Nasilian very fast. Afterwards, the Kaelo’s visit their agricultural shop. On arriving home, the three females welcome Joseph Parmuat delightfully. As the chapter ends, a second male visitor visits the Kaelo’s.

CHAPTER 6

Ole Kaelo introduces Joseph Parmuat as a brother to the girls.  Despite the warning, Taiyo is still infatuated with Joseph and decides to make him a confidante.  Resian is critical and dismissive of her father’s pompous speech and generally how females are viewed by men.  In a defiant mood, Resian expresses her mind on the subject of unfair men towards women.  Surprisingly and daringly, she portrays the defiance to her aunt, mother and Resian.

The listeners are deeply embarrassed.  Aunt Botorr says Resian has a bad spirit that can only be treated through circumcision.  Taiyo’s questions who Olarinkoi is and is answered by Joseph by telling a legendary story.  Ilarinkon is a legend who was a great fighter who saved the Maa community from being wiped out by an adversary while their morans had gone for a raid.  Ilarinkon warriors abused women until one day women discovered how to deal with the problem.  Their collective resolution ironically gave birth to enkamuratani who was handed over an Olmurunya. Hence the birth of FGM and therefore according to Joseph, only women can stop the barbaric FGM.

CHAPTER 7

Resian is in an optimistic mood that all will be well especially about their university education.  After Taiyo leaves for the shop, Mama Milanoi broaches the subject of FGM.  Even though Mama Milanoi supports FGM, Resian is categorical that it has been used by men as a tool of oppression to women. One Edward Oloisudori visits Kaelo’s home.  Resian is uncomfortable with him for he is immoral.  Her mother scorns her for talking ill about him.  Her father returns and due to Resian’s nervousness, he calls her names.  Kaelo clearly states that all members of Kaelo family must respect Oloisudori and that he should not be denied anything.  Resian learns that her father did not give in to the request about joining university.

Joseph reveals that Oloisudori is a shadowy figure; a Jack -of-all-trades. He is also, a poacher, smuggler, robber, extortionist and a hired assassin.  He had survived numerous jail terms and was now incorrigible.  Due to the revelation, the girls fear for their father.  When Oloisudori leaves, the countenance of Kaelo and Mama Milanoi changes; they are absent-minded and aloof even though Kaelo insists that everything is in control. Mama Milanoi even burns rice without realizing it.

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