THE YOUNG FAMILY OF MARK AND ELIZABETH SIGU
Elizabeth delivered twins Veronica and Rebecca. The two girls had varied personality and physique. Becky (Rebecca) was startlingly beautiful and an avid attention seeker while Vera was quite intelligent and independent minded. When Vera and Becky were two years old, Elizabeth got another child, a boy Aoro. Mark decided that his young family could no longer stay in Nakuru because of the raging struggle for independence in Kenya. He took Elizabeth and the kids to Aluor where he thought they will be safe. This decision was questioned by Mark’s mother who felt the children should her stayed in their paternal home.
Back in Nakuru Mark engages in extra-marital affair with a certain girl. This woman after staying with Mark for some time, she claims to be pregnant. The allegation snaps Mark out of his dreamland and he sends her parking. He decides to go back to Aluor and see his family.
At Aluor Elizabeth decides to park their things and go back to Nakuru since it looked like Mark had forgotten all about them. Elizabeth heard the rumours about a woman in her house but chose to keep them under the bed.
SIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN CHAPTER ONE
- The birth of the twins; veronica and Rebecca.
- Aoro, durng the dry season is born.
- The fear of Mau Mau rebels forces Mark to take children to Aluor.
- Mark engages in extra-marital affair.
QUESTIONS FROM CHAPTER THREE
- Do you think it was excusable for Mark to cheat on his wife? If it was, do you support Elizabeth decision to keep quiet about it?
- Explain the difference in the character of Vera and Becky.
OBSERVATIONS MADE FROM CHAPTER THREE
- Mark realizes the harsh reality of monogamous relationship. He strays a little but now seems to accept the fact that he confessed to have one wife. It does not occur to him that in some parts of his world including his own culture men have more than one wife. What is written all over his face is the guilt of cheating on his wife Elizabeth Awiti.
- The responsibility of taking care of the family has slowly shifted from being that of a woman to being the duty of a man. Mark Elizabeth says, must have someone to remind him of his responsibilities. Compare Mark’s responsibility to that of Akoko.
FREEDOM OF KENYAN AND WORK
The country celebrates its independence under Mzee Kenyatta and Oginga Odinga, everyone is happy that finally Uhuru has come. The country is faced by so many problems including incompetence or as Kenyatta put it ignorance, poverty and………… the leaders call people t go back to the lands and work.
There were so many job opportunities and in 1967, Mark got a promotion as manager and moved to a much bigger house. He now had a bigger family which consisted of; Vera and Becky, Aoro, Anthony Jr, the twins, Opiyo and Odongo and the last born Mary.
Vera was a brilliant and hardworking student while Becky, who got everything she wanted did not know hoe to put in much more effort. Vera passed her certificate of Primary education but declined to join the national school she had been called to. She joined Becky’s school (Riverside high) instead.
SIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN CHAPTER TWO
- Independence and its associated problems.
- Marks hardwork and the labour of putting shelter on his family.
- Progress of Marks family.
QUESTIONS FROM CHAPTER TWO
- Expound on the emerging differences between Vera and Becky.
- According to the chapter, outline the problems Kenya inherited from the colonial government that still bedevils her.
OBSERVATIONS MADE FROM CHAPTER TWO
- The chapter reveals the new kind of slavery. Mark Sigu has to work extra hard to provide for his family. He is enslaved to his job and paying of rent. He does not own a home but rather has to move from one house to another according to how much money he earns. Everything surrounds money and one is counted as being rich according to how much money he/she earns. The money one gets determines where that person lives.
- Despite earning substantial amount of money Mark has chosen to stay in rented houses. This is one of the bigger problem that faces most Kenyan towns- a large percentage of urban dwellers do not consider the said urban centers as homes but rather there ancestral homes.
- Academics has taken a caste system where those who perform well go to better schools while those with abysmal performance are relegated to what is considered as smaller schools. Does this procedure inhibit some student potential?
Aoro sigu was like Obura son of Owuor Kembo. He was ‘swift and bright; confident and curious’ with three younger boys under him, he became overly adventurous. One day they went fishing, Aoro and Tony took to fishing oblivious of their brothers Opiyo and Odongo.
Odongo Almost drowned but the noise of Opiyo who was screaming attracted the bigger boys who rescued their brother. At home, there was a case waiting for them. Aoro and Tony were punished for it was there word against the younger boys.
The boys swore never to go anywhere with Opiyo and Odongo.
Meanwhile Tony develops acute appendicitis and is rushed to the hospital at night. Aoro is very worried of his brother but receives the good news that after operation, Tony will be well.
SIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN CHAPTER THREE
- The near death experience of Odongo by drowning.
- Tony develops an acute appendicitis.
QUESTIONS FROM CHAPTER THREE
- Narrate and event in your life where your parent(s) punished you severely.
- Do you support how the Sigu’s treated their children?
OBSERVATIONS MADE FROM CHAPTER THREE
- The rigors of family life are setting in and the Sigu’s have to deal with the day to day challenges of raising a family. The near death experience of Odongo opens Mark to the dangers crawling outside there where he thought the boys could not venture out to. He now realizes that there is so much to young boys that just sitting around or in the neighbourhood.
- Tony’s appendicitis literally gives us the notion that, as a parent, one sleeps with one eye open. This emergency also opens a door to good neighbourliness, if it were not for the neighbour’s help, Mark would have lost his child.
AN EPIPHANY FOR AORO SIGU
Aoro examines Tony’s stitches and a fortnight later, he operates on a helpless frog successfully. His journey to medical school had begun.
Peter pays them a visit. Every child in the house is excited to be with him especially Tony who has hundreds of questions about priesthood. Mark is apprehensive for it is evident that Tony is eyeing priesthood. Many parents have reservations when children tend to incline to fields they (parents) are not comfortable with. Peter was on his way to getting a promotion to become bishop.
After staying for a while, he left for Aluor to pay a visit to his Aunt Maria, (Some versions of books say COUSIN MARIA* pg165 but it should be considered just as a typing error and corrected)
It was decided that Opiyo and Odongo should go with Peter and keep their grandmother Maria Awiti company.
Aoro performs exceptionally is invited to join one of the best schools in the country. This inspires Tony to work even harder.
At school Aoro takes time to adapt and is sent home for indiscipline. His suspension attracts the wrath of his Father who grants him independence as an adult to start a life.
Aoro is troubled to submission and changes his view of his father. He resolves to go back to school and never disappoint.
SIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN CHAPTER FOUR
- Aoro like his great great ancestor Obanda, from whom Akoko Obanda got her name from, shows his passion in medicine.
- Tony shows an interest in priesthood when Uncle Peter pays them a visit. Peter is on the way to becoming Bishop.
- Opiyo and Odongo are taken to Aluor to keep their grandmother company.
- Aoro joins Form one but he receives a suspension which ends him on the wrong side of his father.
QUESTIONS FROM CHAPTER FOUR
- Do you think Aoro’s punishment was justifiable? Explain.
- What are some of the harsh realities in boarding schools?
- As a parent, would you allow your child to join priesthood? Explain.
- Write an essay showing how priesthood is looked at today.
OBSERVATIONS MADE FROM CHAPTER FOUR
- Many parents fail to notice the interests of young children at this age. Aoro is now discovering his niche and according to the result of his experiment he is quite good. There are things children do in childhood which opens up new avenues for r their lives in future and technically Aoro is on the right track.
- Regardless of their choices, children stir quite a dilemma in their parent’s life. Anthony Jr. has overzealous questions for his uncle Peter about the seminary and church. Mark calmly contemplates whether he has the audacity to let his son, though he had other sons to follow what he (Tony) believes in. most parents have had to kill their children’s dreams by virtue of controlling their life and knowing what is better for the kid.
NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE!!!
This chapter is a flashback of the birth of Mary the last born of Mark and Elizabeth Sigu. The pregnancy was a torturous one for Elizabeth given that she developed a high pressure. The doctors feared for both the mother and the child’s life. Elizabeth held on until the induction of labour which gave her the girl Mary.
Mary received glowing love from Mark her father. She was taken to the best private school and her father personally drove her to school. This attracted envy from Becky who was known to be the only attention seeker.
Becky’s remark about how Mary was loved by their father brought a huge scuffle between the twins Vera and Becky. This brought a huge rift between the girls never to be amended
SIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN CHAPTER FIVE
- Pregnancy and the birth of Mary- the last born child.
- Showers and floods of love shown to mary by her father creating envy in Becky.
- Confrontation between Becky and Vera which attracts intervention from their mother.
QUESTIONS FROM CHAPTER FIVE
- Do you believe in the saying that most last borns are spoiled? Explain.
- Vera and Becky show the height of sibling rivalry. Explain the impact of this rivalry to their relationship.
OBSERVATIONS MADE FROM CHAPTER FIVE
- The value of life is appreciated in this chapter. Mark puts everything at risk to try and save his last born’s life from the jaws of death. He puts his wife’s life in danger but at the end of the day, his prayers and fears pays up.
- Vera and Becky’s relationship degenerates into bitter and painful reflections. Did the parents see this coming? It is important for parents to be on the look out for such vital signs especially when kids advance in age. More often, sibling rivalry break that blood bond beyond repair especially in occasions where children have different personalities like Vera and Becky.
THE DEATH OF MARIA AWITI
The secondary school results came out and Vera had done well in sciences and Mathematics. Becky got second division which she was well pleased with. Antony got 36 points in his Certificate for Primary Education. He surely knew he had earned a spot in Aoro’s school. Becky wanted to look for work but Mark insisted that he should go back for A-levels.
Meanwhile a telegram from Aluor brings in news of Maria’s sickness. Elizabeth is beside herself with fear. Maria dies in hospital Elizabeth by her bedside.
SIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN CHAPTER SIX
- The children pass their exams and Mark prevails upon his beautiful daughter Becky to continue with her A-levels.
- Maria dies at the age of 70.
QUESTIONS FROM CHAPTER SIX
- Relate the death of Maria to that of Akoko Obanda.
- In your opinion and basing on Becky’s decision not to join A-levels. What is the importance of education?
OBSERVATIONS MADE FROM CHAPTER SIX
- Beckey was extremely beautiful. Any man certainly would have paid heavy bride price for her. Consider many years ago- Akoko was exceptionally beautiful and thirty head of cattle were given in appreciation. At this age and time hover, what Beckey is looking for is work and Mark, instead of being ready to take in suitors, is busy sending his girls to school.
- The death of Maria Nyabera yanks life away from Aluor and the present da river rages on in Nakuru wanting to burst into other corners of the world. From what we see, this river does not turn back.
THE RUNAWAY BECKY
Opiyo and odongo return to Nakuru after staying with their grandmother. Education is central among the Sigus and as examinations approach, five candidates at the same time, the house is on fire. Aoro was sitting for his O-levels, Vera and Becky for the A-levels and Opiyo and Odongo for the Certificate of Primary Education.
Vera and Becky are now in the prime of their ages and boys are milling around. One guy, Tommy Muhambe is interested in Vera. Vera brings this question to her dad requesting for permission to go with Tommy to the movies.
When results came out, Aoro had performed well in his O-levels with six distinctions. Vera got two A’s and a B. she decided to do electrical engineering at the university.
Becky flunked in her subjects but she had other plans which after the results she put into force by secretly eloping from home leaving behind a note.
SIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN CHAPTER SEVEN
- Opiyo and odongo return to Nakuru after the death of their grandmother.
- There are a total of five candidates at different levels in Mark’s houe. Opiyo and Odomgo doing their CPE, Aoro his O-levels and Vera and Becky their A-levels.
- Vera asks permission to go to the movies with Tommy Muhambe.
- When results come out, Vera decides to pursue electrical engineering while Becky elopes to the city.
QUESTIONS FROM CHAPTER SEVEN
- Differentiate between life in traditional African courtship and modern day courtship.
- Explain the character of Vera as shown in this chapter contrasting it to her twin Becky.
OBSERVATIONS MADE FROM CHAPTER SEVEN
- Vera portrays maturity when she asks her father to give her permission to go to the movies. She showcases aspects of adult responsibility and respect for her father unlike many girls who elope without asking. It was unthinkable for her father to deny her such a huge chance when she had expressed herself very well.
- Becky on the other her shows her sheer lack of self expression by simply slipping away without having her chance with her parents. The image here is reminiscent of many families whose children choose to escape into a world where they think they can make independent decisions.
LIFE IN CAMPUS AND THE BREAK UP
Life in the campus was fun. Vera did not know what to do with so much freedom at hand. Many girls in the campus were either dating the rich affluent that picked them at school or seeing some campus students.
Vera maintained her steady relationship with Tommy. Tommy proposes to her but she declines ending their 3 year relationship. With emptiness in her heart, Vera ventures on a journey to look for her long lost twin sister.
She finally tracks her sister at Jomo Kenyatta International airport.
SIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN CHAPTER EIGHT
- Vera adapts to campus life and its freedom.
- Tommy’s proposal from marriage is humbly rejected by Vera.
- Vera goes on the hunt for her long lost sister and tracks her down at the Airport.
QUESTIONS FROM CHAPTER EIGHT
- Explain the reasons for Tommy’s rejection. Was it premature to propose?
- Do you think Vera made the right decision to track down her sister? Discuss.
OBSERVATIONS MADE FROM CHAPTER EIGHT
- The decision on marriage now lies between two consenting adults. It is not like time ago where the father accepted or rejected the offer. Vera unlike her great grandmother turns down Tommy Muhambe’s marriage proposal.
BECKY RETURNS HOME
Becky lived an affluent life. She was now dating John Courtney a Canadian national who was a pilot. Vera was shocked that they were planning to get married without informing Becky’s parents. The conversation turned towards going back home. John quipped in and the two managed to convince Becky to go and see her parents.
SIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN CHAPTER NINE
- Becky is engaged to be married to a Canadian John Courtney, the pilot.
- Vera and John manage to convince her to go back home and visit her parents
QUESTIONS FROM CHAPTER NINE
- Discuss the barriers associated with inter-racial marriages.
- Does Becky love Courtney or money? Explain.
OBSERVATIONS MADE FROM CHAPTER NINE
- Society is now expanding making the world a global village. Inter-racial marriages are now commonplace. Vera seems comfortable with her white boyfriend.
Mary-Anne Ngugi was Vera’s friend and roommate in the university. In her loneliness, Vera opened up to Mary- Anne about their love gone sour with Tommy. Vera too had been heartbroken with her action. The two girls talk about Vera’s twin Becky. The conversation extends to the larger Sigu family.
Mary-Anne invites Vera to a recollection at Parkview College, which she readily agrees. It was Sunday the two girls went to church where they enjoyed service. After service Vera’s mind had many questions about her religion and how well she knew it.
That evening she went to watch a play and enjoyed it. The week that followed was full for most student in the university were preparing for their final exams. Vera had learned the art of preparing early and so she was more than ready.
When Saturday came, the girls boarded a matatu towards Kangemi. Vera was introduced to a group of Christians who had different view of church and work among other lives challenges.
She got out of the church puzzled but Mary-Anne offered to give her books which will help her understand better.
SIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN CHAPTER TEN
- After the break up Vera resumes normal life trying to re-establish herself.
- She attends a church service where she starts questioning her spirituality and how well she knows God.
- Mary-Anne introduces her to a group of strict church people where she earnestly starts on the journey of understanding her mission towards God.
QUESTIONS FROM CHAPTER TEN
- Vera sets on a new journey to redefine herself. Discuss the events that transpired in Nyabera’s life back then that led to such huge change we see in the book.
- There are many questions about spirituality that we confront every day. Basing on Vera’s questions, do you think learned people appreciate Christian values and their roles? Discuss.
OBSERVATIONS MADE FROM CHAPTER TEN
- Usually when one is faced by major challenges in life, they reflect upon their life to make some decisions which may ultimately change their future. Vera, recovering from a broken relationship tries to make some decisions which bring her closer to understanding her spirituality. This leads us to the question, is it only pain and despair that draws us closer to our God?