The majority of the characters in Matigari were very hypocritical. In the second section of the book, everyone in the town thought it was a miracle that he escaped jail even though it was really Guthera and Muriuki who helped him. They saw Matigari as the second coming of Christ, however they had no clue how he looked like. All they knew was that he looked like a common man, but that he had special powers. However when Matigari approached them they rejected him and told him to stop talking about truth and justice or he will get killed. Of course, they had no idea who he was. But the people were so preoccupied on the rumors of Matigari that they showed no concern for the real problem, which was that their government was corrupt and taking advantage of them. The people that where in jail with Matigari, all agreed that there was a huge problem in their justice system, however when they escaped, they wanted nothing to do with Matigari, and did not want to help change anything for their country. The priest was so scared of going to hell, since he heard stories about the second coming of Christ. When Matigari came to him seeking for justice and truth, he was immediately kind to him, only because he feared that this stranger may be Christ. When Matigari explained to him what really happened, I saw the real side of the priest. He only cared for himself, and what would happen to him in the afterlife, he did not really care for others. If he had, he would have continued his conversation with Matigari, instead of dismissing him. In the third section, when the madmen escaped, the priest fell to his knees and prayed again for his own safety. Again he was scared of the second coming of Christ and foolishly thought, that Christ may be disguised and out for revenge for the people who weren’t kind to him. This book reminds me of the song by Pink Floyd called Sheep. My favorite part of the song is the second section. The people of the town knew that their government system was filled with injustice and lies but they pretended it was all fine, and ignore the harms and problems around them. They just followed the leader, and did what they were told.
Harmlessly passing your time in the grassland away;
Only dimly aware of a certain unease in the air.
You’d better watch out!
There may be dogs about
I looked over Jordan, and I’ve seen
Things are not what they seem.
That’s what you get for pretending the danger’s not real.
Meek and obedient you follow the leader
Down well trodden corridors into the valley of steel.
What a surprise!
A look of terminal shock in your eyes.
Now things are really what they seem.
No, this is not a bad dream.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want
He makes me down to die
Through pastures green He leadeth me the silent waters by.
With bright knives He releaseth my soul.
He maketh me to hang on hooks in high places.
He converteth me to lamb cutlets,
For lo, He hath great power, and great hunger.
When cometh the day we lowly ones,
Through quiet reflection, and great dedication
Master the art of Karate,
Lo, we shall rise up,
And then we’ll make the bugger’s eyes water.
Bleating and babbling we fell on his neck with a scream.
Wave upon wave of demented avengers
March cheerfully out of obscurity into the dream.
Have you heard the news?
The dogs are dead!
You better stay home
And do as you’re told.
Get out of the road if you want to grow old.
Matigari by Ngugi wa Thiong’o was a book overall filled with political injustice portrayed in a fictional tale Ngugi uses many metaphors and personas to identify the upper class, lower class, and “the people” overall. The story portrays a political struggle between Kenyans and officials at an unstable time in their history. Matigari used the “Voice of Truth” and “His Excellency Ole Excellency” as characters to represent the upper class. They were the men who had control of what went on in the country the ones with the fancy cars and expensive homes. The lower class of course was Matigari’s “children”. The “children” refers to all the oppressed workers of the factory, all the students who protested, all the teachers who were accused of being unlawful citizens because they were teaching works of Marx, they were the children who lived in a the car dump. ”The People” represent the nation as a whole as described in the book “his house” on the other hand represented the control of the country, the government. “The house” represents the idea of a good foundation like we discussed in class, it represents a stable government, equal and uncorrupt. Matigari enters the story as a symbolic person. Matigari represents change an attempt for progress and equality. He is the struggle for a new way like it says in Matigari page 11 “Victory is born of struggle. There is no night so long that it does end with dawn” meaning of course there is no fight for rights without some sort of reward in the end theirs always a light at the end of the tunnel.
The novel Matigari is a very an interesting novel. Many factors contribute to how it draws in the reader’s attention. For example this novel has no setting nor does it have a specific time era. But throughout the reading we can conclude, well conclude can be a bit though, because we basically get little hints and bits that this story was based in Kenya. The novel was written about the conditions of the Kenyans during the time when Britain colonized Kenya. I find it very interesting that the author wants us to believe that this story has neither setting nor time this is because it makes us readers think more. We start to compare it more to the society that we live in and the society that was portrayed in the novel. I guess in a way the author was trying to say that there will always be class struggle and political problems no matter what era we live in. People will always discriminate one and another and try to push one another off, there will always be competition and only the less wealthy will suffer the most. The author does this by making the family of the protagonist symbolize the nation of Kenya who is being push away from their house which can mean the nation and William to symbolize people or other nations that takes over another country.
In the story we also see that the author mentions “the voice of truth”, this is a radio show that everyone believed in and listen to. This goes to show that no matter what people who wants to overtake a nation mentally and physically always using such tactics to get what they want. I’m not saying that it is easy like it was back then, but people are still doing this. Little kids get brain washed everyday by watching such shows nowadays that show hatred and crime, and show them what’s right from wrong, they show what they want to believe. So basically, the author did this on purpose to show that no matter what centuries we live in we all still have similar problems. Most of the time people get their words shoved down their throats for speaking up against something, just like Matigari was sent to a mental hospital. Times chance but the mentality of having unnecessary power and money never change, and that’s what causes all these problems in society. That is causes class struggle.
As we take a closer look at Matigari, Thiong’o reveals to us his book was originally written in the Gikuyu language. Sadly, in the Kenya he loved, his artwork was burned and by law. His supporters were forced to read his brilliant works in constant fear, looking over there shoulders. They were living in fear of persecution, doing what should be a basic human divine right. Thiong’o was forced to live in exile, away from his homeland and the love that he knew .Writing his book in London gave him ample opportunity to write his book in English, thus reaching a wider audience, yet he chose to produce Matigari in Gikuyu. Taking a closer look and examining the reasoning for this reveals solidarity. When a language is written it preserves its originality and cultural heritage. This is another way to fight colonization and keep tradition alive. Writing a language makes it real, not just a small pocket, thus it cannot be erased. The language now belongs to the culture. Since writing a book in a language most people do not speak, Gikuyu, it depletes the audience. The authors themselves, as Thiong’o did can have their work translated. For fear of artistic quality being lost in translation; the author can closely oversee and ensure his or her point of view is put across properly. Thus maintaining the integrity of their work.
The story of Matigari took place based on Kenya’s situation in few decades ago. survival of fittest theory came few decades ago too but the animal and human being always been living like survival of fittest and like the story of Matigari. There will be always somebody controlling somebody else. At home, I am very tough with my younger sister and I am using the reference of age to control her. I think human being learn the word Better from their mother’s womb. The words superior, powerful, better means that there is somebody who has very little power and who is bad. human. These terms are invented nobody else but people like Settler William. Matigari is very upset about how the world is. But the people will still not change. A doctor and somebody who clean got same goal. They both work to help people to live well, to keep people from getting sick, and to make the world better place. If I ask who is more necessary for us to live? People who clean garbage or doctor? What would you say? Think for once, when more people will die or get sick? Also think another thing, who is gonna die first a garbage man who everyday touching things that stink, that is full of bacteria, or a doctor who always using hand sanitizer every minutes. Now the question, who get more paid? So this is how our world is, this is how we are. I am gonna point you another thing..if you go to Dunkin Donuts or Macdonalds,just observe ten minutes if you see any employee standing and doing nothing for a minutes. They are always busy and doing hard work. But how much do they earn per hour? Very little money. The world is always unfair but we born to hear the words equality, fairness etc. There is only few Matigari but millions of Williams living around us. Matigari does hard work, he builds the house but thats not his. I do not have problem that Matigari built the house but the house is not his. I have problem why Matigari does not get enough paid so at least he can build something for himself too. Socieaty does not want any Matigari to build something for own use.
It’s easy to see how some of the characters in Matigari represent larger denominations of people. As we discussed in class, Matigari represents the patriots, Settler Williams represents the foreign oppressors, the children represent the people of Kenya, and so on. However, there is one group that we failed to discuss; the women. What larger denomination might they particularly represent in Matigari?
My best guess is that the women represent the surrounding African nations. There are several instances in the book that refer to women as the “cornerstone of the home.” They set an example for the children, and are expected to look after them. Similarly, the argument can be made that the nations that surround Kenya may set an example for Kenya and could actually help the people of Kenya in their plight if they came together. Or perhaps the women do not represent a larger denomination at all. Rather, they might represent the sense of morality and justice in the Kenyan natives. For example, when the corruption and exploitation in Kenya led to hunger and deprivation, all their sense of morality vanished. Comparatively, all the women in Kenya lost their honorable positions and standards in society. They no longer were honored, but were whored out, and made to work in plantations instead of maintaining the homes. The women were knocked down from their pedestals, and were made work like prostitutes or slaves. As is mentioned in the book, what room is there for morality in the face of hunger or thirst? So, my question is this: do you agree with my interpretation of what the women represent? Or do you think that Ngugi Wa Thiong’o actually had no intention of making the women represent something other than themselves?
The novel Matigari has many Marxist elements and undertones. After many years of colonization and oppression of the Kenyans by Great Britain, Kenya gains independence. But despite this newfound independence from the oppressors, Matigari, a freedom fighter, and his oppressed “children” or the native people of Kenya must still face the remnants of the British Colonial rule. Matigari feels the obligation that he must still fight the oppression that he and his people face. Matigari’s struggle for Kenya and his “children” is embodied by his struggle to take back the “house” that he built from Settler Williams and John Boy. Matigari and the native people of Kenya represent the proletariat that are oppressed, Settler John represents the white settlers, and John boy represents the new corrupt black ruling class. The radio broadcasting of the “voice of truth” and the corrupt Excellency ole excellence and minister for truth and justice who represent the ones with money and corruption, shows how lies, deceit, and corruption against the proletariat abounds even after the oppressive colonists leave Kenya. I view some strong parallels between Matigari’s struggle for Kenya and the Rwandan Genocide. Just as Matigari must face selfish and corrupt government that sides with the ruling class bourgeise and the remnants of the colonial power, so too do the Tutsi minority have to face the Hutu majority in a post-colonial world. After the colonial power leaves Rwanda and leaves the power in the hands of the vengeful and bloodthirsty Hutu group, the Tutsi minority are at the mercy of the merciless Hutu. Just as the Excellency ole excellence and prime minister of truth and Justice broadcast messages to keep the people in check, so too do the oppressive Hutu group send out broadcasts that condone the genocide of the Tutsi group in a brainwashing fashion. As Matigari sees the power of oppressors over the oppressed resulting in poverty and corruption, the Tutsi minority and eventually the whole world see the power of the oppressors over the oppressed may lead not only to poverty, and corruption, but to mass genocide.
While reading Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Matagari a few things captured my attention. One thing that captured my attention was in the beginning of the book which is the note to the reader/listener, In this note the author states that the story, the actions, the characters, and the country are all imaginary. He also goes on to say that the story has no fixed time. I found this interesting because the page right before that note (a note to the American edition) it mentions how this book was a great influence in Kenya and how it was written in Gikuyu because there are no significant speakers or readers of the language in Britain. Which makes us conclude that this book is particularly written about when Britain colonized Kenya in the year 1888. I found this interesting because of the authors interesting way of telling us there’s no particular setting of the story and no particular time but then goes back to tell us that it is in Kenya during the time period where Britain was colonizing Kenya.
Another thing that I found interesting in this book was Ngugi Wa Thiong’o use of metaphor. From the beginning of the book you can make a connection and see that this writing is mainly metaphoric writing. As discussed in class some of the metaphors that were used is when he says “home” and “my family”. Home symbolizes the Kenyan nation and Family symbolizes the people of Kenya. We can see and relate this on page five in the book. In the first paragraph where it starts off as “He tried to visualize his home…..” it states that he had just one more climb, the final climb and then he would reach home, but yet instead of making the final climb he decided to take a rest. It also goes on to say in the third paragraph that how can he go home all alone? That he couldn’t return alone without his family, and that he needs to go around blowing the horn of freedom and calling “his people”. But yet although his home is after the “final climb” it goes on to say “we shall all gather, go home together, light the fire together and BUILD our home together”. This part was really interesting to me and it’s the part that made me realize that his home is Kenya and his family or people are the people of the Kenyan nation. The word build is what made me realize. Finally, we can see how all that I mentioned gives away that his home is Kenya and how he neatly writes this book metaphorically.
While reading Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Matagari a few thing captured my attention. One thing that captured my attetion was in the beginning of the book which is the note to the reader/listener, In this note the author states that the story, the actions, the characters, and the country are all imaginary. He also goes on to say that the story has no fixed time. I found this interesting because the page right before that note (a note to the american edition) it mentions how this book was a great influence in Kenya and how it was written in Gikuyu because there are no significant speakers or readers of the language in Britain. Which makes us conclude that this book is particulary written about when Britain colonized Kenya in the year 1888. I found this interesting because of the authors interesting way of telling us there’s no particular setting of the story and no particular time but then goes back to tell us that it is in Kenya during the time period where Britain was colonizing Kenya.
Another thing that I found interesting in this book was Ngugi Wa Thiong’o use of metaphor. From the bgining of the book you can make a connection and see that this writing is mainly metaphoric writing. As discussed in class some of the metaphors that were used is when he says “home” and “my family”. Home symbolizes the Kenyan nation and Family symbolizes the people of Kenya. We can see and relate this on page five in the book. In the first paragraph where it starts off as “He tried to visualize his home…..” it states that he had just one more climb, the final climb and then he would reach home, but yet instead of making the final climb he decided to take a rest. It also goes on to say in the third paragraph that how can he go home all alone? That he couldn’t return alone without his family, and that he needs to go around blowing the horn of freedom and calling “his people”. But yet although his home is after the “final climb” it goes on to say “we shall all gather, go home together, light the fire together and BUILD our home together”. This part was really intersting to me and it’s the part that made me realize that his home is Kenya and his family or people are the people of the Kenyan nation. The word build is what made me realize. Finally, we can see how all that I mentioned gives away that his home is Kenya and how he neatly writes this book metaphorically.
“Matigari” although a simple book to read and understand presents many complex metaphors throughout the novel. Taking a side by side look of “Matigari” and Tyson’s “Marxist Criticism” you saw how this novel presents many ideas Marx was trying to explain in his writing. One specific example that stood out at me was when Matigari was telling “his story”. He said that he had all of a sudden awaken from a deep sleep and told Settler Willams to get out of his house, because in fact it was his house since he built it and took care of it. (page 21) When comparing this to Marx’s idea of alienated labor you see how Matigari was blinded by the work he had to do and alienated from his family, and “his self”. Being “disassociated not only from the products they produced but from their own labor as well, and he noted the debilitating effects of what he called alienated labor on the laborer and on the society as a whole.” This is Tyson’s explanation of alienated labor, and as Matigari exhibited this in the novel, examples of this still exist today. People work minimum wage jobs and become alienated from their family and friends; they don’t have time for anything including them selves. They work hard and long hours in the hopes of reaching the American Dream to such a point that they become distant from everything else that is important. This is beneficial to many leaders of corporations, and even leaders of this country because by alienating people from everything that is important to them, they in some form control the person. However wrong this may be it will never change, there will always be rich and poor, leaders and workers, and innocent people sent into a deep sleep of labor in hope of reaching the American Dream.
An ideology is a belief. Not a law. Not a rule. A thought. A principle. The image of “the Voice of Truth,” is an ideology that favors the upper class. The Voice of Truth presents it’s self almost as a god-like figure. Even when it first announces itself, “This is the Voice of Truth.” It almost seems very dominant and demanding. Even when the children Matigari first found in the beginning of the novel found the radio it was like they had hit the jackpot. It reminded me a lot of the the Wizard in the Wizard of Oz. Dorothy was on a journey to find the Wizard who would help Dorothy find her way back to Kansas. All the munchkins told her that the Wizard knows all and that the Wizard can solve anything. I feel that this perception of the Wizard is similar to that of the Voice of Truth. All the people would listen to the Voice of Truth because the Voice of Truth knows all. However, in reality the Voice of Truth is corrupt, just like the Wizard. What did Dorothy find behind the curtain? A corrupt Wizard. Not really a Wizard at all. The same in the Voice of Truth’s situation. The Voice of Truth is not the voice of truth. It is the voice of corruption and a biased opinion. Although it makes itself seem very powerful as if everything it was saying was the “right way”, it always gives a one sided opinion. The opinion is one of the oppressors. For example, the Voice of Truth states that all people should ignore the workers who are fighting for higher wages. The Voice of Truth is influencing other people of the society to think that the workers that want higher wages are bad people. The Voice of Truth suggests that these people are influencing violence and war. The workers have no immediate intention of disturbing the peace. They just want what they think is right and what is just. The Voice of Truth is a speaker of the beliefs of the oppressors. Their way or the highway. Or in Matigari’s case, jail.
The novel Matigari is an example class struggle. As stated in the note in the American edition of Matigari, the political situation in Kenya did have an effect on the on the outcome of the book. However the purpose of the note was to prove her point about dictatorships. This book came out when people were being killed for trying to find out the truth from the corrupt government, very similar to the book. Exactly like the book, the dictator in Kenya orders the police a warrant for Matigari’s arrest. Only to be disappointed that it was just a fictional character. Next to burn any copy of Matigari was the governments way of trying to keep the search for truth and justice silenced. It is also important to note that event though the author is influenced by the political situation in Kenya, she purposely gave the book no “fixed time” and no “fixed space”. This story has no setting and can occur in whatever time era and in whatever part of the world the reader wishes to choose. By doing so the author is able to give the novel universal meaning. The author presents this idea that the struggle for truth and justice is a continuous one that never ceases. The idea that after one beats the colonist one must overcome the imperialist. Ngugi makes class struggle know in Matigari. Matiagri is a symbol for people fighting to get their country back. Matigari claims he is fighting to get his house back for his many wives and children. What he is really talking about is getting his land back for his fellow countrymen.
While reading “Matigari”, the vast use of metaphors throughout the novel captured my particular attention. The metaphors established by Nugugi wa Thiong’o, generally, referred to the bigger picture that he was trying to establish. Thus, the metaphors provided a great deal of insight into the text. For instance, the terms “house” and “home”. The two terms were repeated on various occasions throughout the entire novel. I soon began to consider that maybe the “house” that Matigari constantly refers to might be symbolic of the Kenyan nation. This idea was confirmed to me when Matigari came back to claim his “house”, and as he tried to claim Settler Williams’ house, built by his labor, Matigari stated “…It belongs to me and to all my people”. The idea of a “Home”, in the novel, goes past the thought of just a shelter; it begins to play the role of a country. Muriuki’s mother was killed in a fire set by her landowner when she could not afford to pay for and refused to leave her home. John Boy Jr. is sent away to school by his family and instead of coming back to help them to improve their lives he becomes just like the wealthy settlers. Thus, Matigari’s home appears to be figurative of so many feelings. Additionally, the novel also contains metaphorical expressions that help provide insight as well. For instance, “I have girded myself with the belt of peace”. This phrase expresses the peaceful attitude that Matigari presented throughout his entire journey. The phrase demonstrates him as a hero who wishes to find justice and harmony for his country through peaceful means. In conclusion, I think that Matigari is a great novel and just the book itself is a metaphor of the Kenyan nation. The book illustrates the country’s struggle for freedom.
Matigari is a novel that represents an extremely politically corrupt time period. The fight for truth and justice is the main goal of Matigari throughout the novel. To continue the group discussion from class, my group and I were discussing the concept of a worker being alienated from his surroundings, work, and family. Matigari believes that the house he built for Settler Williams is rightfully his based on the fact that he built it with his own hands. However, Matigari was working for Settler Williams at that time, so technically speaking whatever he produced was for the profit of Settler Williams. It is unethical to not compensate a worker enough for the amount of work he produces which I believe might have been the case for Matigari. There is a huge correlation between Matigari and the theories of Karl Marx in the sense that they both believe that workers/people should not be exploited and separated into a lower class. It is agreeable that Matigari is treated unfairly for simply having an opinion and fighting for it. The communist government at that time attempted to control all aspects of society, placing power in very few people. This also relates back to Marxism where there is a ruling upper class, also known as the oppressors. I feel that the actually meaning and terms of what it means to work is unclear to the characters in the novel. In modern society, we are under the impression that when you work for a company or a person, you produce to benefit that entity, and in return you are compensated. I don’t think most people would assume that what they do at work is theirs to keep or own. If that were true, architects and builders would never construct anything for public use, teachers would not be available because they might feel that they shouldn’t share their knowledge, etc. I do agree that at work, we are often alienated from ourselves, and our families. It is time that could be spent caring for other things, however the practice is implemented that we must work to earn a living. So far, I find Matigari to be a novel that really makes the reader feel the emotion since it is so descriptive, there are also many connections that can be made between this novel and our previous readings.
A Founding Father, let’s say Benjamin Franklin, he’s always dropping quotable lines, once said that any nation will always require a Frontier, to deposit all of it’s socially undesirable – pilgrims, loners, criminals, mentally eschewed. Think about it; it’s an oversimplification but all explorers were basically idealistic pirates. This sort of unconscious expansion serves two purposes: the stated removal of those who don’t mesh with polite society, and the more important renewal of the nation’s breadth and depth.
I think this idea applies to the Marxist tenet about “rugged individualism”. These characters – rebels and loners – think they are “fighting the system”, but through their noncompliance and alienation they are merely removing themselves from being able to cause real change. In the case of my Frontier example, these nonconformists, even though they believe they are revolting, “striking out on their own”, and making something nu for themselves, are actually servicing the ideology of their nation quite neatly.
So now onto “Matigari”. It contains everything I’ve come to expect from a Ngugi novel: unreliable characters, dream-like repetition, and revolutionary backdrop mysteries. But, still maintaining this lens I’m developing in this post, I think the one sure thing I can say about the titular hero is that he fits the bill of “rugged individualism”. He’s idealistic, possibly crazy, and constantly reminds me of one of those samurai/cowboy movies where the hero who has abandoned violence returns to an old haunting ground and causes a stir with nonviolence. He left his home to enter the jungles and become a freedom fighter – essentially the apartheid era Africa’s version of lighting out to the Wild West and becoming a desperado. The Frontier re-imagined as revolutionary guerrilla forests – the same kind of liminal space. But what did Matigari rilly accomplish? He left a dangerous environment, fought to change it, but then returns to a nu kind of danger. No matter what, he will not fit into the society that he is a part of. He is always going to be an outsider, a rebel. And because he was not killed in the conflicts in the woods, he is most likely going to be buried by the government that has replaced the imperialist one
The story of Matigari is a rather interesting unreal tale, implementing metaphors that create connections to real life. While it pretends to be a completely false tale, we can deduce that this story takes place in Kenya during the late 1800’s to mid 1900’s, during the time when the British colonized Kenya. In the narrative, a Kenyan man named Matigari, is searching for truth and justice after coming home from his long journey to defeat Settler Williams. In Matigari’s mind, he had built the house that Williams lived in, giving him the right to ownership of the entire estate. Marx’s concept of alienation comes into play here because during the time that he built the house and cultivated the crops he was disassociated from himself and his work. He claimed that he had been in a “deep sleep” until he finally opened his eyes and realized that he had been taken advantage of for his work.
The book’s use of metaphors seemed very clever. Instead of looking at the protagonist as a person, he can be seen as all the oppressed people of Kenya during the time of Britain’s colonization. Settler Williams, in that case, would represent the oppressors, the British colonizers as a whole. The house that Matigari so eagerly wants rights to, would therefore symbolize Kenya as a country. I thought it was strange at times throughout the story because I couldn’t tell when Matigari was referring to his house as his actual house or in reference to the metaphor. Also, as discussed in my group in class, we were debating on whether Matigari was justified in believing that the house he built was actually his. He was hired by Settler Williams to build it and was compensated for his work, making it seem strange that he would demand the house to be his.
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