I wish all the 2015 candidates their best in remaining papers. All other literature students worldwide, I also wish you well in your studies.

Today in Kenya, the Form Four Students (o-level) sat for their English Paper 3. It was full of surprises given that the examiners delved deep into the annals of the book to excavate vestigial questions which required so much thinking but more of creative writing.

The River and the Source– a compulsory set text- required the candidates to excavate their knowledge of Otieno Kembo and Becky and write an essay on how their quest for wealth led to the two characters’ destruction. The question was very clever it demanded the candidates knowledge of the book and the similarity in character between Becky and Otieno Kembo.

Betrayal in the City a Book by Francis Imbuga was also featured. interestingly, the examiner was interested in the knowledge of how relatives are important. here again, candidates with the knowledge of the book had an upper hand.

The whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera, is a book which in the past two years always had easy questions. however this year the examiner wanted candidates to prospect for the knowledge Rawiri acquires of the world when he leaves his country to Australia.

Candidates, especially future candidates must desist from procrastination and understand literature for better performance.

I will ensure that we get to help each other through this wonderful world where we make our imagination have some realism.

Thank you for your support. Keep sharing and asking questions.



What are some of the injustices faced by women drawing illustration from the novel, The River and the Source by Margaret Ogolla

Outrageous customs and the iron fist of men have subjected women to numerous injustices. From temple prostitution to forced commercial sex workers and sex slaves, women have more often been subjected to the wrath of man ever since the curse in the Garden of Eden. However, there have been numerous attempts by women to turn the cards to favour them. Right from Hellen of Troy in Greek mythologies, to Cleopatra, to Catherine the Great to Mekatilili wa Menza and Syokimau women have tried to prove how equal to task they are as compared their male counterparts. Despite this, there is still a long way to go given that USA has never had a female president despite having had 44 presidents. The River and the Source displays such injustices in a tale that spans four generations.

To begin with, the expectations of a girl is some communities are very little. For instance, when Akoko is born her father, who already had seven sons, thought that it was another boy. In his expectations, he never dreamt of fathering a girl. Secondly, Nyabera is forced to flee her matrimonial home because she has nothing to cling to. Despite having a girl child to her deceased husband Okumu, she leaves because of the insecurity she feels as a sonless mother. Remember, Ogoma Kwach had vowed to make sure that she gets a son to make claim of her wealth. Awiti, her daughter owned nothing.

Furthermore, Akoko, despite having an infant grandson, loses claim to her wealth which is ravenously dug into by the greedy brother-in-law’s family. She has no one to fight for her until she seeks help from the white administration.

One of the major responsibilities of women is to sire children. The other roles are secondary. In fact, the term fertilization was coined to mean that men plant a seed of a child into a woman who grows into the mother’s uterus, that is women contribute nothing whatsoever to the upbringing of the child. In this regard, despite her being reckless, Alando the wife of the late Owang Sino, had no claim to her son Owour Sino. That is why, regardless of her feelings, she had to go away leaving her young boy behind. Secondly, the family of chief Owour Kembo is embittered by Akoko propensity to sire children- the lack of children which is equated to the number of cattle given as bride price makes the mother-in-law angry and bitter. Akoko is not celebrated for her beauty and industry but she is ridiculed for her lack of regularity in delivering children one child after another.

Finally, Mark Anthony Oloo Sigu engages in extramarital relationship knowing extremely well the implications. When the said concubine claims to be pregnant mark is overwhelmingly angry that he sends her out of his house. If the girl had been pregnant then, it could be a case of a single mother struggling to raise a child while the man responsible enjoys his life without consideration of how tedious it is for a single mother to raise a child- a situation Mark had landed Elizabeth into as he enjoyed life in Nakuru.

Therefore, despite their challenges, women have struggled to make the wheels of change revolve. With a little help, as we see Aoro do to his wife, women can reach the stars.


Okach please discuss the virtue of courage in The River and the source with reference to Akoko.

Akoko Obanda Nyar Yimbo was the daughter of the great chiefe Odero Gogni. She was the daughter of Aketch, when she was born, her father, who was pa passing by said proudly, “another rock for my sling. Despite his change of heart, when Odero Gogni Uttered the second words of wisdom, he indeed had sired another rock of his sling. Little did he know that this rock shall be cast to the furthest horizons of the world.

Even as a toddler, Akoko claimed her world and as she grew, she earned love and respect not only from her brothers but also from her father. This was advantageous to her given that her father made the effort of choosing the best husband for her. Even after finding the suitable husband, Odero Gogni set the bride price so high so as to make sure that his daughter was not going to starve. Akoko was not just adored but her family but her bravery was an admiration to the whole community. Infact the people of Sakwa recognized this attribute because of the numbers of people who came whenever there was an invite from Sakwa.

In marriage, Akoko has to grapple with In-law issues. She is called names among them a witch. If it were any other woman, she could take it lying down but not for Akoko. When she heard the rumours, she woke the entire village and gave the people of Sakwa, her mother-in-law and the brother-in-law a piece of her mind. She was daring to look Otieno Kembo in the eye and threaten him until he withdrew in fear.

Meanwhile Akoko, puts her powerful set of lungs into good use when she uses her oratory skills to sway the crowd gathered in the morning in her homestead. She holds them in a sway as she narrates her predicament. It was unheard of for a woman to do what she did especially before the maro (mother-in-law). She was one of a kind. Secondly, using the most persuasive and balanced speech, she respectfully accounts for what had led her to live her matrimonial home. And finally, in a full packed court before the DO and DC (both white). She skillfully presents her case. She was a woman without limits.


explain how the kitchen cabinet is responsible for the government of kafira.drawing your illustrations from francis imbugas play betrayal in the city.

The kitchen cabinet is a group of advisors who closely monitor things and report them to the person in authority. In most cases, the Kitchen cabinet is made up of trusted men and women who besides the normal cabinet of the president, are the watchdogs and policy advisors to the sitting head of state. However, in Africa, the kitchen cabinet is made up of the closest associates of the reigning leader who are either, kinsmen or women or business partners. In essence, they use the power the head of state has to make a lot of money and steal from the public coffer. They enjoy the privileges of state hence trample upon the common mwanainchi because of state immunity. In so doing they lead to the reign of terror where people under questionable circumstances but there is no one to account for the deaths. In Betrayal in the City, there are several people who die but instead of the state investigating the murders, it protects the murderers for example the death of Adika, Kabito, Nina and Doga.

In Betrayal in the City, such leaders are Mulili, Nicodemo, Kabito and Tumbo. Despite their lack of knowledge in their respective fields, Tumbo and Mulili display power that is unheard of. First and foremost, Mulili knowing he has Boss protection, refuses to allow Nina and Doga a chance to perform the hair shaving ceremony. He even goes further to betray his friend to boss. Furthermore, he feeds boss wrongful information regarding Kabito leading to Boss giving the approval of Kabito’s assassination.

The kitchen cabinet can make or destroy policy. During Adika’s burial, Mosese is said to have said certain things that were provocative and maybe against Boss’ regime. Instead of being advised to change some of the policies in the interest of Kafira, with the help of Nicodemo, Mosese is incarcerated.

This guys were supposed to offer alternative solutions or maybe give Boss a clear vision and a different angle to offer more sound leadership. However, in their presence, Kafira is doomed with people like Mulili and Tumbo thinking about how to enrich themselves. Instead of Tumbo being vigilant with the play writing process, he turns out to be complacent giving way for the coup that happens within the play to become real hence ending Boss’ regime.

It should be noted that prisoners were allowed to act in the play. Prisoners like Jere and Mosese were political prisoners and Jusper was an ex-convict and a radical like Mosese and Jere. This if anyone was observant was a typical from the frying pan into the fire. Therefore in their complacency and incompetency they led to the end of Boss regime. Some would argue that, removing Boss out of power was the best thing for Kafira. It should be remembered that, coups are not that good, with them comes a period of uncertainty and war as those who support the incumbent try to oust the new leader out of power. The civil strife that follows is catastrophic not only to the economy but also to the social structures leading to the reality of Mosese’s words, “It was better while we waited. Now we have nothing to look forward to…(pg28)




Irony is a figure of speech where words are used in such a way that their intended meaning is different from the actual meaning of the words. It may also be a situation that may end up in quite a different way than what is generally anticipated.

There are several types of irony ie verbal irony, situational irony, dramatic irony, tragic irony and comic irony. Verbal irony is where what is said is opposite in meaning to what is implied. In Betrayal in the city, Jere asks the Askari, “You mean three doors up? (pg16)” when the Askari had told him that the place for lunatics is three doors down. The Askari did not understand the irony and went ahead to explain that the head of the prison facility was three doors up. To Jere the head of prison facility was insane that is, according to the question.

Furthermore, Jere tells the Askari, “ I am truly grateful now that I know what awaits me. I didn’t know you took such pains.” (pg17) The implications of this statement are also not really understood by the Askari. To Jere, it was irrelevant to incarcerate people and waste a lot of resources ‘reforming’ them instead of just solving the prevailing problems affecting the society. There are more instances of situational irony including Mosese, Jere and Askari. In short, the display by the two prisoners question the authenticity of having prisons run by people who have no idea on the functions of prisons. It also laughs at the freedom that is so talked of when the inside of the prison is safer than outside where it is expected that freedom would rain. In his own sarcastic way, Jere highlights that when one gets out of jail, they enter another prison.

Situational irony involves a situation in which actions have an effect that is opposite from what is intended so that the outcome is contrary to what is expected. In betrayal in the city, it is hoped that incarceration of idealist will make them become conformists to the totalitarian regime of Boss. However, it turns out that, they become more radicalized that those out of prison. Regina is timid and afraid but Jusper is unafraid and confrontational. Jere becomes more proactive and the two prisoners and one ex-prisoner orchestrate a bloodless coup that ousts Boss from power. Furthermore, Tumbo trusts that Jusper will write a play script that endorses Boss regime but it turns out that the play played on their ignorance and incompetence. Moreover, Mulili thinks that if he exposes Boss’ brutality and corrupt nature, he (Mulili) will go scot free until when a gunshot soils his shirt.

Dramatic irony is where the situations in a play/film or story a well-known to the audience while the characters in the play have no idea. The words of the characters suggest the opposite of what is about to happen or maybe has happened but the characters are still in the dark. Some dramatic irony plays out so well creating humour or suspense in the audience because of the folly of the characters. In Betrayal in the City there is not much of dramatic irony that is evident in the play however we shall discuss this in other set books to come. We shall further more discuss tragic and comic irony.




Francis Imbuga loves to use characters who say nonsensical things to bring about some laughter and enjoyment in his plays. In Betrayal in the City, such Characters are Mulili and Jusper. Jusper however is an intellect whilst Mulili has no tight grasp of the English language. While using such characters, the playwright sends to us vital messages which are somehow hidden in the innocence of the characters who project them. People like Mulili may be viewed as ignorant in the light of their poor English and therefore what they do may not have a huge impact in the present day society. By so doing, the playwright handles very delicate truth without raising emotions which could land him/her trouble with the authority. This could explain the reason as to why despite his satirical writing, Francis Imbuga still remained in the country during the Moi regime while people like Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Katama Mkangi fled Kenya into exile.

While talking about justice, the playwright uses Jusper’s soliloquy to address one of the major fears in the present world- the lack of justice. According to Jusper, just like Jupiter, Justice is absent. Humorous as it maybe, it underscores the pain in the majority of people who have tried to seek justice but as usual, those in the authority have their way.

A recent example is the teachers’ strike of September 2015 in kenya. The teachers’ unions took their case to court- the labour court and the verdict was that the government should honour its promise of paying teachers the 50-60% salary increase. The teachers Service Commission turned down the offer flatly and appealed to the High Court which had a similar verdict. The case was appealed up to the Supreme level until when the upper arm twisted the verdict to suspension of strike pending negotiations. The arm-twisting of judicial independence in Kenya show just how those in power are willing to go to make sure that the courts are on their side.

Another similar example is the 2007 election in Kenya. The opposition refused to go to court declaring that the courts were not trustworthy. This led to chaos that saw six Kenyans being taken to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity. However, the ensuing drama after the Post-Election Violence of 2007-2008 has shown just how weak justice is to the downtrodden. The result has been numerous church services to pray for those indicted by the court while the victims dry their tears in temporary camps that they have learned to call home. That is the justice Jusper states that it is absent and truly Justice is absent.

Secondly, Mulili’s poor English relieves the tension within the play. Despite the fact that Nina and Doga are mourning their lost child, Mulili’s poor English diverts us from the grave situation into the spate of laughter for example when he says no glass goggles. By making the audience laugh, it is just like the numerous memes online nowadays, it rubbishes reality of assassination in the society and welcomes ridicule.

Francis Imbuga in his wisdom knew very well how grave it is to expose assassination and make it fiery. He however subtles it with humour. Presently, we have seen so many memes which play on the pain of the majority through comic videos and photos that instantly becomes viral on twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp. It could be that people are afraid to face reality or are just foolish.

We laugh at Mulili’s broken language which plays out well since it hides the man’s horrific other side. While laughing, we regard him innocent and ignorant and therefore the audience hates Boss more than they show vehemence to Mulili.

When Jusper scares Regina the audience is elated by Regina’s response (pg32). However, this reveals the expectations of the people of Kafira. They fear living because they know that anytime, death from those who are meant to protect them is inevitable.




Satire is a technique employed by writers to expose and criticize foolishness and corruption of an individual or society by using humour, irony, exaggeration or ridicule. The aim of satire is to improve humanity by criticizing its follies (literarydevices.net/satire).

In Betrayal in the City the playwright ridicules the society at the beginning. In the typical crazy man synonymous with Francis Imbuga, Jusper the crazy man has more reason than the common non-crazy person.

Society receives heavy mockery because they are fence sitters in the running of the country. “After a while, they picked up stones and started to stone him. The whole crowd was throwing stones. When he fell down, the people took to their heels, thinking him dead” (pg12) These are the words of Jere to Nina and Doga about Jusper. It is sad that the society condemns petty murders while offering no tangible contribution in the fight against injustices. Indeed, Jusper was a cold-hearted murderer but due process should have been followed. In his way, Francis Imbuga condemns those who proclaim the lack of justice yet injustice still reigns in the society.

Moreover, Tumbo has little knowledge on the scheduled play yet he is on the entertainment committee. (pg 64