Gikonyo, carpenter and businessman married to Mumbi.
Karanja, collaborator with the British and widely suspected to be the traitor who betrayed Kihika
Kihika, resistance fighter who led successful attack on the colonial Mahee Police Post in the Rift Valley (western Kenya) and killed District Officer Robson before being caught and hanged
Mugo, survivor-hero and leader of hunger strike in British concentration camps; stopped a village guard from beating a pregnant woman to death
Mumbi, the wife of Gikonyo; sister of Kihika and Kariuki; daughter of Warui and ; she is compared to Wangu Makeri, the last of the great Gikuyu queens. "Mumbi" is also used in the novel as a Kikuyu name for the land or earth.
John Thompson, idealistic British colonial officer
Margery Thompson, wife of John Thompson;
Terms (term in bold followed by page number on which it first appears?)
flat-based, deep-sided, lipped and handleless cooking pot or container in
jembe or djembe = skin-covered drum played with bare hands?
Panga or tapanga = machete, hacking tool like cleaver
Shamba: Swahili term for area of cultivated ground; plot of land; small subsistence farm
baraza (141) (Swahili) = place where public meetings are held
wangu (141) = queen?
Historic figures and references (name or term in bold followed by page number on which it first appears)
Mau Mau (5) general term for Kikuyu societies opposing British colonial rule; the term may have been more British than Kikuyu
Jomo Kenyatta (13, 132) a.k.a. Burning Spear (14) (ca. 1899-1978): independence leader, first prime minister and first president of independent Kenya; "the founding father of Kenya"
Harry Thuku (12, 83): 1895-1970. 1922: founded Young Kikuyu Organization. 1923: founded multi-ethnic East African Association against pass-system and forced women’s labor. Protests over Thuku’s imprisonment led to protests, on which colonial forces fired. Became coffee farmer and opposed Mau Mau.
Wangu wa Makeri (14; also p. 10): born later nineteenth century into traditional Gikuyu society; underwent customary rites and married. In 1901, she was appointed the first and only female headman of the entire colonial period at Weithaga Location.
Mumbi (14): mythological figure regarded as mother of the Gikuyu people. “Mumbi” can be translated as "one who shapes." Wife of Gikuyu and ancestor to all Agikuyu people
“Uhuru”: Swahili word for freedom > slogan
for national independence in
Masai (21): properly “Maasai”: ethnic group
of semi-nomadic people in
Governor Baring: Evelyn Baring, 1st
Baron Howick of
Uganda, Obote’s kingdom, Makerere College (135): Uganda, African nation bordering Kenya; Milton Obote (1925-2005), active in Kenya Independence Movement 1950s, Prime Minister or President of Uganda, 1962-1971 (overthrown by Idi Amin), 1980-85, overthrown & eventually replaced by Yoweri Museveni, 1986-present; Makerere College / University in Kampala, Uganda
Bren-gun (186): Bren light machine gun, used by British forces 1930-91
Maxim-Gun (191): first self-powered machine gun, invented 1884, used extensively by British colonial forces 1880s-1910s.
Style of novel:
Psalm 72 (p.22)
1Give the king thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the king's son.
2He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgment.
3The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness.
4He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor. . . .
7In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.
8He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.
9They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him . . . .
11Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him.
12For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper.
13He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy.
14He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence: and precious shall their blood be in his sight. . . .
There shall be an handful of corn [i.e.,
a grain of wheat] in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit
thereof shall shake like