Sunday 18 June 2017

The River Between, 1965, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o ***

The River Between narrates the confusion that comes with the introduction of Christianity in a Kikuyu community. Clearly the religion divides them, a once united people start to drift apart, the struggle for power and confrontation begin.

Joshua is converted to Christianity, he changes his name and is told that his culture and tradition are heathenish and will not lead him into the kingdom of God. When one of his daughters decides that she wants to be circumcised because to her it means the initiation into womanhood as established in her culture and tradition, therefore part of her identity. Joshua refuses, he forsakes her, she flees. His second daughter, Nyambura falls in love with
Waiyaki. She too is threatened. The love of her life is ahead of the times, however he is circumcised and that, is considered heathenish according to the Europeans. Will Joshua also forsake his second daughter?
"Circumcision of women was not important as a physical operation. It was what it did inside a person. It could not be stopped overnight. Patience and above all, education, were needed. If the white man's religion made you abandon a custom and then did not give you something else of equal value, you became lost. An attempt at resolution of the conflict would only kill you"
The River Between is a narrative of the  condition of life of the Kikuyus as a result of the European invasion. Chaos. This book is part of my ongoing challenge  Reading African Writers Series.

One of my favourite description of Colonialism by Chinua Achebe
"How a gross crime it is to seize someone else's land and his history, dispose him of his culture and identity, deny him of his worth and dignity. And, at the same time disingenuously justify the act by saying that the victim is unfit, soulless and spiritless, not human enough, and requires protection. In point of fact, colonialism was brutal and perverse and armed with gun, their only aim was to indoctrinate the natives. They came disguised in Christianity."
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  1. Powerful review, Mary. The River Between has been around for ages, but sadly I have never felt the urge to read it. I shall do so now.

    1. The book is educational and only composed of 150 pages aprox. If you have it around, I'd recommend you read. It is in the same line as Things Fall Apart.


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