These words were said by JERE towards the end in Act Two in reference to incoherent jibber jabber of MOSESE in his sleep. JERE had watched the intellect MOSESE process his great expectations for Kafira only to see him, in utter amazement, utter words that did not make sense in his sleep.

MOSESE in his dream portends another character away from the real character when active. He espouses a fearful man who is ready to lick BOSS’ shoes to get a lucrative government job like his friend NICODEMO. He relishes the luxury of betrayal and instant fame.

We cannot refute the claim that, however committed an individual is in fighting for the common good, there is always that small voice that tell him/her to relent and accept instant fame in the name of bootlicking. MOSESE’s other side, brought in the dream showcases this other side.

In his dream, he accepts honour and applause from the crowd. Of course there will be people present to cheer one in the act of betrayal. Some will be genuine but the others will be interested in seeing your demeanour.

In many occasions, the oppressed take on spectator stage as the brave ones duel with those in authority. Where are the people of Kafira when MOSESE is jailed? Where are they when DOGA and NINA are beheaded? There take sideline stands while a few walk the talk and rebuke BOSS’ authoritarian leadership.

They bestow there need for liberty to the minority. They watch in fear, condemn in their houses while brutality is dispensed as an immunization drug. They watch heads bowed as people like JERE are gaoled.

It is sad to observe that instead of the majority waking up against authority, few people do and they are tried with their conscience as they come to terms with the reality of the situation-that a mad society does not carry its madness, it leaves its madness strewn around only to be picked up by few.

JERE’s words echoes the tribulations civil rights groups face in trying to take on a responsibility that need to be shared by all and sundry. It proclaims the voice of those who fight in the face of an ignorant society. He cautions the society to take on its role in fighting inhumanity meted by those in authority and not to mire the few who end up locked in prison and their minds shattered into splinters of madness like MOSESE.




Motif: an idea that is used many times in a piece of writing or music. (Cambridge advanced learner’s Dictionary)

Motif: A unifying idea that is a recurrent element in a literary or artistic work. (Sage Dictionary)

Death is ever present in The River and the Source. It shows transition from one perspective to another. It indulges us to answer the imminent question; after death, what next? From the life of Akoko and her family; the people of Sakwa we learn from the death of AORO that even in the time of loss of the potential heir, the society has to go on. In this regard, we see the people of Sakwa focusing their attention on the demeanour of Owang’ Sino.

Owang’Sino takes over leadership after the death of his father. He is respected as the chief until he chokes on the bone of fish. Inevitable as it is, the people of Sakwa contend with the leadership of Otieno Kembo. Suffice to say, the death of Owang’Sino marks a quick transition to modern leadership. His demise leads Akoko to seek foreign intervention to the thriving conflicts at home.

She seeks counsel from the DO, who after deliberation promises to safeguard the orphan Owang’sino left behind-Owuor Sino. Akoko cannot afford to fight for her right given that the Luo are a patrilineal society. Her grip on authority, diminishes with the death of Owang’Sino. Owuor Sino was the only male in her lineage and he was very young to mark authority. Akoko is forced to return to her father’s home.

The death of Okumu portends the futility in Nyabera’s quest to build a large family near her mother’s domicile. She despairs, tries to build another family with the Ogoma Kwach, who inherited her but her attempts fail.

She opens her eyes to a Christian God. She realizes that, in the quest to be recognized in the society-having children, is futile. In faith she is baptized but before she could find complete comfort, she tries to get more children. She is surrounded by death until she concedes to acceptance.

Akoko’s demise is remarkably an end of an era. The era of change acceptance and traditions is buried with her in the loins of Aluor. She is buried in her new home away from her matrimonial home bedecked by modernity and Christianity.

We can snapshoot the death of Nyabera as the beginning of an end. The only hope to the tradition which Elizabeth clings to; but has to give up, when Nyabera’s soul rejects the body, in the hospital in Kisumu. Elizabeth collects her twins and solemnly forges a new society devoid the traditions of Aluor, inherited from Sakwa.

Significant is the death of Rebbecah, Becky, the beautiful blossom. The reality of her death marks the new amorous nature of modernity which comes with a price: AIDS. Her quietus rings the detriment of irresponsible sexual behavior and desire for affluence in materialism. We question parenthood while comparing her to her twin sister: Verah.

Finally, there is the death of Elizabeth Awiti. Quietly, after Doctoral celebrations- she stealthily breaks down to her hearts misgivings. She is buried beside her daughter and the earth smiles at the belated souls of the great chief Awour Kembo.

BETRAYAL IN THE CITY by Francis Imbuga

Characters In The Play
1. Doga – an old man
2. Nina – his wife
3. Jusper Wendo – their son
4. Jere – Soldier, later prisoner
5. Mulili – His colleague, later farmer
6. Askari – Prison warder
7. Mosese – Ex-lecturer, now prisoner
8. Regina – his sister, also Wendo’s Girlfriend
9. Tumbo – Government Official.
10. Kabito – Government Official
11. Nicodemo – Government Official
12. Boss – Head of State of Kafira
13. Guards, Palace staff and People

Act One

DOGA and NINA are visiting their son’s grave. To their surprise, the killers of their son have followed him to the grave. In some cultures in Kenya, it is believed if you burn someone’s grave at night and you were the killer, the spirit of the deceased will never trail. In this concept, it was believed that the killer’s had come to ‘kill’ the spirit.
JUSPER, their son had been given the responsibility to look after his brother’s grave before the killer’s came to do injustice to it. On this occasion, he was missing. JUSPER is believed to be deranged because of his mannerisms.
JUSPEr confesses to killing a man. His parents do not believe his statements because to them, he is sick,(mad). His mother NINA, advises him to go and change his clothes. In order to get rid of hime, they tell him to go and confess to the killing he claims.
Oblivious to DOGA and NINA, JUSPER killed the man who tried to desecrate his brother’s grave. The man, as we learn from JERE, was CHAGAGA, the sub-chief’s brother.
Meanwhile, JERE and MULILI have come to stopped the scheduled hair shaving ceremony, ‘in the interest of peace’ pg9. Among some communities, eg Luhya, hair shaving ceremony serves as a right to show final respect to the dead. It is done one week after the burial.
MULILI, who comes from a different tribe seems unconcerned with the intensity of the ritual. He cares less when NINA threatens to strip naked-a mortal curse among the people of this community. He says, “how many naked bodies I have seen and I am still MULILI with my two eyes…..”pg9.
JERE goes against the BOSS’s orders and allows the two poor fellows to do the final ritual for their son. It is very important to note that, the act has so much cultural practices that still linger in some communities. We can see how the character of JERE shows respect to the aged and the dismissive nature of MULILI. We also learn how condolences continue to trickle in, the evidence is the wooden bowl on the grave. Another thing is, it is an abomination to carry out hair shaving ritual if there is doubt that, something had happened to the buried corpse. NINA says, “it will be wrong for us to sit on this evil. We cannot outwit the ancestors.”pg3.
1. NINA and DOGA visit their late son, ADIKA’s grave in preparation of the ‘hair shaving’ ceremony.
2. Their other son, JUSPER WENDO, who is demented, comes shouting claiming that he had killed someone. We later learn the someone was CHAGAGA.
3. JERE and MULILI are sent to come and stop the hair shaving ceremony. JERE seems to be understanding while MULILI is condescending.

1. Explain MULILI’s character.
2. In your own opinion, do you think the authority was justified to block the ‘hair shaving ceremony’?
3. Relate what happens in act one to events that unfold in leadership in third world countries.
1. This ACT espouses the confusion surrounding African countries as they try to come to terms with the new leadership styles inherited from their colonial masters. In reality, the current leadership exhibited in the first act is, master slave kind of leadership which limits people’s rights in the guise of maintaining security. The banning of the hair shaving ceremony is a tactical manoeuvre by those in authority to cover up on their failings by blaming innocent citizens who, with regard to tradition, have the right to assembly.
2. Patronage and nepotism prevails in MULILI innuendo. He carries his orders with the hope that, BOSS, his cousin, will give him a land and grade cows.


Takes us back to the time of war. It is the story of AZDAK, the village Scrivener. AZDAK in his kind heart houses a beggar who turns out to be the GRAND DUKE! AZDAK is shown to be arrogant in the way in which he hunts the FAT PRINCE’s rabbits which he sarcastically blames for eating weeds. He puts his friend SHAUWA , the policeman, in a difficult situation.
AZDAK realizing he had housed the GRAND DUKE, who is sought after by the PRINCES, takes himself to court. HE shouts all over the streets confessing his sins. On arriving in court, the IRONSHIRTS notify him that the JUDGE was hanged by the CARPET WEAVERS. AZDAK sings the song that tells of what happened in PERSIA. He is silenced from his excitement by an IRONSHIRT who brings him to the present crisis in his own town. AZDAK in fear retreats into a corner.
THE FAT PRINCE brings in his nephew BIZERGAN KAZBEKI to act as new JUDGE. The IRONSHIRTS are displeased by this gesture and decides to hold a mock trial as advised by AZDAK. In the mock trial AZDAK plays the role of the GRAND DUKE. He satirically pronounces the evils of the PRINCES who benefited from the war by purchasing poor arsenal. He says that GRUSINIA may have lost the war but the PRINCES did not.
The nephew declares the THE GRAND DUKE must be hanged. The Ironshirts realize that, if the nephew takes the JUDGE’s seat, his judgment will be influenced by the FAT PRINCE. They elect, AZDAK as a JUDGE!
AZDAK’s judgment were skewed. He took from the rich and gave to the poor. He handled case with fairness and witticism to the surprise of the people of GRUSINIA. Back in the CAUCASIAN CITY, he handled the case of NATELLA ABASHWILI. NATELLA confesses that she does not like the new JUDGE.

1. The GRAND DUPE, AZDAK is duped by the grand duke. Having learnt the social class mannerisms, AZDAK discovers he has been duped.
2. AZDAK forces SHAUWA to take him to court to be charged for housing a fugitive.
3. From the IRONSHIRTS, we learn that the carpet weavers have gone on a rampage killing the JUDGE.
4. THE FAT PRINCE brings his nephew to be appointed as a new judge but he fails the test by inclining to the judgment of THE FAT PRINCE.
5. AZDAk administers justice allover Grusinia in a way never seen before. He is partial and shrewd at the same time.
6. After the end of war, NATELLA ABASHWILLI comes bsck to look for her child, MICHAEL ABASHWILLI. The case of parenthood will be heard by JUDGE AZDAK.

1. Outline the character traits of AZDAK.
2. Do you think NATELLA ABASHWILLI will receive a fair hearing? Explain.
3. Relate the FAT PRINCE’s behavior to leadership and appointments in KENYA.

1. The Act exposes the futile attempts of the leader masquerading as a peasant beggar being housed by a fair minded scrivener. AZDAK plays out the role of humanity in the way he handles the GRAND DUKE. He shows how the simple have the heart to help in time of chaos while those with resources hide in simplicity.
2. In the play with a play, AZDAK showcases his knowledge on the GRAND DECEPTION. He proclaims that THE FAT PRINCES fought for war tenders, did not supply horses and other ammunitions, enriched themselves and led to the defeat in the war.
3. AZDAK’s time as judge exposes witticism in trying to manipulate law and to apply NATURAL JUSTICE in a way that the rich do not have their way and that the oppressed received a fair trial.


On the day of the case, AZDAK is conspicuously missing. He is later brought beaten up by KULAKS. Later a message is brought in that AZDAK has officially been appointed by the GRAND DUKE as the new JUDGE.
A COOK confides in GRUSHA that AZDAK is a good judge who is fair to the poor. SIMON promises, gloomily, to support her.
When the case begins, AZDAK receives something from NATELLA’s lawyers. GRUSHA is wounded and engages the Judge. She is charged 30 piasters for contempt of court. SIMON too is charged 10 piasters for using indecent languages when he engages the judge in a proverb duel. The duel exposes the double edged sword of language.
AZDAK confides in GRUSHA. He tells her that if she were fair to the child she would have let the child enjoy the luxury in affluence. The major undoing of NATELLA and her LAWYERS was that they exposed their interest in the late GOVERNOR GEORGI ABASHWILI’s estates.
Meanwhile, AZDAK adjourns the current case to handle a divorce case of two elderly couples who were in marriage for forty years. He adjourns the present case again and resumes the previous one. In his judgement, AZDAK uses the CHALK CIRCLE to determine the real mother.
GRUSHA has not the heart to pull at MICHAEL and therefore AZDAK, in his wisdom, determines that the child belongs to GRUSHA VASHNADZE. AZDAK calls for celebration. Before he joins in the celebration. He divorces the wrong couple, GRUSHA AND JUSSUP.
The book underscores the application of basic wisdom in solving some cases where the law seems rigid. In Kenya we call it NATURAL JUSTICE.

1. AZDAK is appointed as a new judge by the GRAND DUKE.
2. AZDAK oversees the case between GRUSHA VASHNADZE and NATELLA ABASHWILLI.
3. GRUSHA loses her cool and calls AZDAK a corrupt judge. She is fined 20 piasters for contempt of court.
4. SIMON engages AZDAK on a proverb war in which he is charged a fine of 10 piasters for contempt of court.
5. AZDAK suspends the case over parentage and calls upon a case of divorce brought in by an elderly couple.
6. To resolve the case of the true mother of MICHAEL, AZDAK engages the test of the chalk to which GRUSHA is considered as the loving parent and given the care of MICHAEL.
7. AZDAK divorces GRUSHA from JUSSUP instead of the ELDERLY COUPLE. He invites everyone to a dance where he disappears never to be seen again.


1. Explain the character of NATELLA.
2. Compare the characters of SIMON and AZDAK.
3. Relate the way AZDAK handled the cases with how justice is administered in your country.

1. From the excitement in the air, it is clear that the peasant enjoy the way AZDAK handles the cases. We are also able to infer that, AZDAK clearly knows that the path he has taken will lead to his ruin and therefore, he treads carefully. When he is brought in by the KULAKS chained and beaten, we come to the conclusion that, human beings can sometimes outlive their usefulness especially when the prevailing circumstances change.
2. SIMON’s proverb confrontation reveals the double-edged sword of proverb language in which, one proverb demerits the other.
3. From how AZDAK solves the case of parentage, we infer that, common Law is in some occasion supreme to the written law that is not conforming to the needs of the society. Constitutional law is static while common law depends on reason and personal assessment.