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

SCENE ONE: THE DEATH OF ADIKA
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.
SIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN SCENE ONE
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.

QUESTIONS FROM SCENE ONE
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.
OBSERVATIONS MADE FROM SCENE ONE
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.

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10 thoughts on “BETRAYAL IN THE CITY by Francis Imbuga

  1. the Caucasian chalk circle, one think i like from the book is when nattela abashawili, runs from her child when the coup is about to come she goes with her expensive clothes instead of giving the priority to her child micheal .

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