Blossoms Of The Savannah Guide
The book revolves around the family of Ole Kaelo. Made of four members, the tight knit family has to leave Nakuru for their ancestral home Nasila after Ole Kaelo is retrenched from his 22 year-job at Agribix Limited. Ole Kaelo, who has two daughters Taiyo and Resian, is married to Mama Milanoi- a submissive unquestioning wife.
As the family relocates to the matrimonial home, Ole kaelo harbours delusions of grandeur in the family agricultural business he hopes to start, while the daughters hold on to the hope that their father would agree to take them to the university.
Oblivious to the girls and Mama Milanoi, Kaelo has literally sold his soul to the devil with the name Oloisudori Loonkiya. Moreover, the girls, having lived in Nakuru for over 20 years, have not undergone the cut- a mandatory custom among the people of Nasila. They are moving into Nasila as intoiye nemangalana (Uncircumcised girls)
With the desire to be recognized as an elder by his peers, Kaelo has to bide to the will of the people of Nasila. Firstly, he has to find a way to appease them by initiating her daughters- a tricky situation given their radical stance against the archaic tradition. Secondly, he has to prove he is a man of means.
Guided by the desire to be accepted into the community, Kaelo falls prey to the avaricious Oloisuduri who willingly gives him a loan. Known for his cavalier ways of exploiting people Oloisuduri asks to marry young Resian as payment for the loan he extended to Kaelo. Olosuiduri’s only condition is that Resian should be circumcised.
However, given Resian rebellious behavior, the two men agree to stage a ‘kidnapping.’ They couldn’t have been wrong, for Resian escapes and is rescued by Olarinkoi- a man who according to his mother’s prophecy- was the intended husband of Resian. When Olarinkoi tries to force himself to Resian she fights with him and she is left for the dead.
Throughout the book, characters take sides depending on their views about tradition. On his part, Kaelo sees that he has given the best to his daughters by giving them to the wealthy Oloisuduri. Given the muteness of Mama Milanoi, we can infer that she follows her husband’s lead without question.
Addressing the issues of women in society, the author tries to put young Resian on the lead in the struggle against chauvinism and what has been proscribed by certain societies as the ‘rightful position of women.’ With the aid of Minik- a woman who has devoted her time to fight women subjugation- the girls succeed in fighting for what they believe in. However, Taiyo barely makes it after she is brutally circumcised and left for dead.
Retrenched from his 22 year employment at Agribix Ltd, Ole Kaelo decides to relocate to Nasila- his hometown and start his own business. Having lived in the city their entire life, Ole Kaelo’s daughters Taiyo and Resian find it impossible to forget their town life and forever embrace the now inevitable
village life. Resian having dreams to join university decides to use her elder sister’s influence over dad to get permission to return to Nakuru and join Egerton University. However, the sister is reeling from the hurt inflicted by the dad who for the first time said no to her request.
Taiyo, a music lover had won a ticket to attend a music extravaganza at the Coast. Hoping to exploit her father’s love, she asked confidently for permission but Ole Kaelo would hear none of it. After the dad’s refusal, Taiyo feels the walls of optimism crumble and she is afraid to ask for any more favours from a father who now takes the form of an Iron fisted dictator.
The three family members leave Nakuru, a town they had lived their entire life with mixed feelings. One of the most lingering torment is the fact that, having lived in the city, Ole Kaelo had turned his back to the cultural practices of his people. Now that he is going back, he is tormented by the fact that the culture he had thrown into the murk, would come back to haunt him.
Though the family is received warmly in Nasila, there are various issues that linger within the façade of implacable celebration and happiness. For instance, Kaelo and his younger brother Parsimei are reeling under the fear of power shift as Simiren’s had been the family’s representative in the clan affairs and also the big question of the uncircumcised daughters.
Observations from Chapter One
A shift from urban forward thinking society to the rural culturally rich society still buried in the archaic practice of female circumcision.
Mixed expectations from Nasila as the family tries to come to terms with the urban-rural migration.
Questions from Chapter one
What are some of the cultural practices in your community that you consider archaic but are still practised?
How do you view your parents with regards to granting you your personal freedoms? Though Resian and Taiyo are sisters, what differences do the two exhibit?
what are some of the character traits of Mama Milanoi?
Themes from chapter one
Culture is a way of the people, how they relate with each other and how they conduct themselves. In this chapter, the family of Kaelo has adopted and blended well with modern urban culture. Taiyo and Resian consider themselves as modern women who have a right to choose what is good for them. however, as they move to Nasila, they are threatened by the culture of the people of Nasila. Their constant fear is the female circumcision.
Mama Milanoi is excited by the fact her daughters may get the opportunity to marry descent men from reputable families in Nasila. (pg8) Mama Milanoi harbours the misconception that urban boys have loose morals and cannot make for good sons-in law.
This chapter establishes two distinct cultures, the urban culture which blends well with Taiyo and resian and promotes girl child education and the traditional culture whose foundation is FGM and male domination.
As the Kaelo’s retire to Nasila, they confronted with the brutal reality of the culture Kaelo once described as “ archaic traditions which were better buried and forgotten.” Being monogamous and with only two daughters, Kaelo had been likened to a mono-eyed giant who stood on legs of straw.(pg13)
In the chapter the Maasai culture is explored. The cultural leadership starts with the family in which the elder son becomes the official representative (pg11-12). Other cultural practices include circumcision of boys, initiation of girls and intalengo-a sacred ritual.
Though societal beliefs seem to evolve, there are certain virtues that linger in the people’s minds. These cultural aspects are perceived to be good and should not be tempered with, some people even go to the length to advocate for such norms and some even form the social fabric of society. In chapter one, Mama Milanoi, though she has lived in Nakuru for two decades, she believes that the boys of the town have not been brought up to be descent husbands (pg8).
Kaelo believes that conservative courses and career choices are more suitable than music (pg2).
Chapter one reveals Kaelo as a hardworking employee of Agribix ( pg9). Despite his industry, Kaelo is forced into early retirement termed as retrenchment. Retrenchment was introduced in Kenya in the 1990s as a factor of austerity measures to reduce expenditutre and bring about economic development. This was the time when Kenya was reeling from huge external debt from the World Bank and IMF. It seems, kaelo was a victim of such austerity measures. When he loses his job, Kaelo decide to move into business so as to try and stay afloat with the harsh economic times.
While travelling to Nasila, the family which had been shield by security of the town feels lonely and exposed to marauders in the wilderness that stretches from Nakuru to Nasila (pg11)
CHARACTERS IN CHAPTER ONE
Parsimei Ole Kaelo
Married to Jane Milanoi (Mama Milanoi), Ole Kaelo is the father of Taiyo and Resian. Previously the commercial manager of Agribix Limited, Ole Kaelo is retrenched and decides to move to his hometown and start a family business. Though he has two lovely daughters, Ole Kaelo loves his first born Taiyo than he does the Resian. His hatred is intense that Resian instinctively notices it.
Through his industry, Kaelo had rose to the ranks of commercial manager at Agribix Ltd. Being competitive, he only saw the achievements of others and not his.
Taiyo saw the directives given to the men who were loading the lorries and felt sympathy for them (pg1). When his brother told him about what the elders were saying about his monogamy, he called them megalomaniacs (pg13). Taiyo says that the father would ruin their day with his sharp tongue (pg3).
He loves his wife and first born daughter so much. Taiyo felt that she could ask him for anything until he said no to her for the first time. In Mama Milanoi, he saw a precious gift (pg9).
Although he shows love and care, he has no love for his lastborn (pg10).
His sharp tongue makes Taiyo feel hurt when he denies her permission to go to Mombasa.
She is the wife to Parsimei and the mother to Taiyo and Resian
Religious– She prayed for safe journey before they left Nakuru. (pg 6)
Dependent/submissive– She fully relies on her husband. After her husband had been retrenched, she was in utter shock but her husband’s stoicism made her optimistic
Optimistic– Once she was assured by her husband, she became more secure. (pg 7) Beautiful/loving– Kaelo appreciates his wife beauty which has remained so for over 20 years. (Pg9) Taiyo
She is the first born of Kaelo and Mama Milanoi
Lovable/Outgoing/Supportive/trusting- She trusts her father to make the right decision when she asks for permission to attend a music extravaganza in Mombasa (pg2). She has a boyfriend in Nakuru which speaks of her outgoing nature unlike her sister (pg9). Her sister looks upto her for support especially when dealing with their father.
Optimistic- Taiyo thinks positively about their future and their move to Nasila in contrast, her sister has wide ranging fears and reservations (pg 4).
Decisive/focused- She doesn’t care for her father’s success or business but for her dreams of continuing with her education (pg4).
Simiren Ole Kaelo
He is the brother of Parsimei Ole Kaelo
Confident/courageous– he ably represented the Ole Kaelo family in the clan activities throughout the period Parsimei was in Nakuru (pg11).
Accommodative/comfortable/submissive- he had acceptable his brother’s birthright as the first born and always gave him the respect he needed(pg12).
Loyal/dependable- he willingly ran errands for his brother Parsimei without complaint (pg12). STYLISTIC DEVICES
Description is a broad stylistic device that may involve figurative language and also blunt faced creation of mental images using descriptive adjective.
For example Taiyo’s boyfriend description on page 3, ‘… lanky dark-haired, blunt faced young man whose big languid eyes….’ Creates a mental picture of Lenjirr however not criptic to make us see him and recognize him.
Mama milanoi (pg9) ‘She wore her dark hair in braids that accentuated her wide eyes. Her breasts were full and heavy, her waist slender….’ reveals why Parsimei fell for her.
Figurative language involves the use of words and phrases that have meaning outside the exact meaning of the particular words used. In this case we look at the use of similes, metaphors, personification, symbolism and hyperbole.
It is comparison imagery that uses like or as to show the similarities in things. For instance:
“…now like a baby who must be born at the fullness of time, this had come to pass.(pg7)” Refers to Kaelo’s loss of job as something as inevitable as giving birth.
“….to haunt her like demented spirits of a past that…” pg8. Though a simile, it ushers in the life the Kaelo’s were moving to after Nakuru . Mama Milanoi know that, the ‘empty words’ of the villagers were now coming to pass and she dreaded the future.
“..likened him to a mono-eyed giant who stood on legs of straw.” (Pg 13)
The metaphor is more direct in comparison than a simile. However, it is more complex given that one thing is referred to as the other. Examples include:
“Melting pot that Nakuru had become.” Pg8
In personification, abstract ideas take up form and are given human qualities e.g. … mind roaming the distant past…
This is more of a point-of-view an angle with which the narrator tells the events in the story. In the Blossoms of the Savannah, the narrator gets into the minds of the characters and reveals to us what they are thinking and their feelings towards others or certain things. Examples include; pg 8 reveals a lot about mama milanoi’s thoughts, pg9-10 explores the mind of Parsimei Ole Kaelo and pg 12 navigates through the mind of Parsimei’s brother Simiren.
Use of vernacular
The book revolves around the Maasai tradition. The writer has extensively explored the Maa language using words like Yeiyo-, Intoiye nemengalana, olmorijoi, Olkunchai, Papaai within the chapter. The words domesticate the issues within the book to the Maasai as well as reveal more about the maa culture especially the Female circumcision.
The two daughters of Kaelo engage in a dialogue (pg 2-5) in which the view of life of the two girls is revealed. Taiyo is optimistic about life however her sister is a pessimist. The conversation also reveal the easily trusting nature of Taiyo and the skeptical Resian. As they talk we learn about their love for education and their need for their father’s approval to join university which lies in the more confident Taiyo.
The dialogue develops the characters of the two girls and reveals who the father’s favorite is.
The family of Kaelo happily enjoy the morning breakfast at their uncle’s home. For the first time, Kaelo’s daughters come face to face with a large family set up. From the outset, their uncle’s family seems happy however, Resian observes that the happiness is a façade of serious competition among the four wives of their uncle. On the other hand Taiyo disagrees with her sister’s judgment.
Meanwhile, Parsimei visits his old friend and Mentor Supeyo. In their dialogue, Parsimei comes to learn that the man to who his success depends, Oloisudori is a notorious criminal and corrupt opportunistic individual who uses every opportunity to exploit all those indebted to him.
Parsimei daughters on the other hand, are confronted by a man who devalues them for being Intoiye nemengalana. However, the gloom of the day is lessened when the family moves to their new home.
Observations from chapter two
The girls find the life in Nasila to be vibrant especially in the large homestead of their uncle Simiren.
Though warmly received by family, the girls realise that not everyone in Nasila is happy with their condition.
In the quest to satisfy his desire for success in Nasila, Parsimei makes a deal with Oloisudori- a man known for his nefarious character allover Nasila.
Questions from chapter two
What are some of the challenges faced by business people when starting a business? Do you think Kaelo was headed the right way in his business overtures?
Kaelo’s daughters are disgraced by a solitary assailant who considered them as outcasts. What other cultural practice make people be treated as outcasts?
Themes from chapter two
Taiyo and Resian are accosted by a man who considers them as less women due to their uncircumcised state.
Kaelo is warned by his friend Supeyo against entering into any business deals with Oloisudori. Meanwhile, we learn that Kaelo had already entered into a business deal that would earn him millions. After Kaelo’s talk with Supeyo, we learn how being acquinted with influential people could be of advantage in securing government contracts.
STYLES AND STYLISTIC DEVICES
Dialogue reveals the community life of Nasila people when Taiyo and Resian are woken up to enjoy their breakfast. It also shows the happy atmosphere Taiyo and Resian are introduced to which is however dampened by the assault the daughters face in the hands of the stranger they encounter in their walk. Furthermore, it sheds light into the keen perception Resian has as she reveals that hidden in the happiness of Simiren’s large family is deep scars of competition and rivalry. Through the conversation of Old Supeyo and his young friend Kaelo, we learn a lot about Kaelo’s pride and his sole mistake in trusting Oloisuduri.
“… whose fragrant foliage filled the air with their aromatic scent. Flights of birds flashed between trees and the air…”(pg15) The repetition of /f/ sound creates the musical element that defines the beautiful morning to which the daughters wake up.
“Chicken clucked and scratched in the cool shade underneath.” (pg15) Portrays the busy early mornings where everyone was engaged with the music of different chores performed.
Simile e.g. pg 22 “Like cattle that required to be dehorned….” Pg 26 “reputation that would rival that of a randy he goat.” Pg27 “… was still hanging in the air like the sword of democles.”
Metaphor e.g. pg26 “… a hyena in your homestead.”
Saying and Proverb “two women in one homestead were two potent pots of poison.”
Irony: (pg17) Taiyo and Resian have differing views about Simiren’s large family. Resian observes that there exists a stiff competition among members of Simiren’s homestead. Besides, the members may not be that happy. On the other hand, Taiyo observes genuine happiness and tells her sister sometimes people in small families may not be that happy. This statement is so true since Resian has never known happiness in her family because of her father. In fact, she is happier in Simiren’s homestead than when at their home.
Parsimei Ole Kaelo takes his monogamous family to their new home up the hills of Nasila. The mother and daughters are excited about the house and its lush compound. To them, it’s a dream come true. However, Resian still harbours the dream of joining university. The girls also are confronted by their uniqueness among a community of circumcised women.
Observation from chapter three
Material possessions create temporary happiness in Kaelo’s family however hidden within the happiness is the desire by the girls to continue with their education and their fear for Nasila culture especially FGM.
Questions from chapter three
What do you consider as a comfortable life?
In the previous chapter, Resian observed that hidden within the happiness of Simiren’s family and wives was heated rivalry. How does this compare with her own household?
THEMES FROM CHAPTER THREE
After settling into their new home, the Kaelos have a tedious time trying to readjust to Nasila customs and culture. Particularly disturbed is Resian who feels that leaving Nakuru messed up with her university dreams.
In order to blend in the girls embrace those aspects of Nasila culture they felt they could live with. However, for Taiyo life was easier than her sister Resian.
Simile pg29 “…like a halfwitted child…” pg30 “And like a magician, Ole kaelo stood…” Local dialect- to introduce aspects of Nasila culture.
Dialogue – speaks about the relationship between Taiyo and her sister Resian.
Kaelo officially organises a welcoming ceremony which largely turns out to be a successful fete. During the ceremony, the girls are confronted by the same man who accosted them when they were taking a stroll in Nasila. The party turns out to be a mixture of the good and the bad of Nasila culture. The elders ingratiate Kaelo back into the community and ask him to fully embrace the culture of his people.
Through song, dance and feasting, the girls meet the handsome Parmuat to the chagrin of the elderly including Simiren who knew the young man as a relative for they share the same clan.
Observation from chapter four
The homecoming ceremony turns out to be a paradox in itself for Kaelo caters for every food eaten in the party.
The elders condemn the work of the woman called the wasp and ask the daughters of Kaelo not to listen to her and assimilate fully to the tribe. This is what the daughters dreaded.
The unity of Nasila people is revealed as everyone among kaelo’s clan help to make the party a success.
Explain how the rigidity of parents and elders can impact on the wellbeing and development of the youth.
Write an essay about the beauty of cultural dances in your community.
The elders of Nasila are reluctant to evolve with modernity. During the homecoming, the talk is centred on opposing the advances of a woman known as the wasp. The wasp is reputed to be an advocate against FGM. In his speech, Ole Musanka issues a curse to the wasp and those who follow her.
The family of Parsimei is reinitiated into the ways and culture of the people of Nasila. According to Ole Musanka, Parsimei was like a strand of hair that had been blown away from its owner’s head and now was back.
In order to be fully accepted into the clan, Parsimei was to accept the culture of Nasila and lose the alien cultures he had adopted.
A stereotype is an assumption that all are alike especially in reference to a certain group. In chapter four, Kaelo laughs a certain stereotypes the defined the various sects of his Ilmolelian clan. (Pg37-38)
Description pg41, pg 43 last paragraph, pg47 first paragraph,
Simile pg 40 “…like the two chambers of his heart….” Pg43 “… like ducks upon water.” Pg45 “… like a piece of ironsheet…” pg50 “… like the sound of waves…” pg51 “… like a physically oppressive force.”
Saying “… When a rat begins to smell, it returns to its mother’s home.” pg52
The two daughters feel like they have trapped into a prison they cannot break. After the homecoming ceremony, and with the words of Ole Musanka ringing in their heads, they are desperate to live Nasila but they can’t. What they thought as mere talk about circumcision is now becoming vivid in their mind and the fear for what Taiyo describes as archaic tradition is now real.
Meanwhile, Kaelo declares that Mama Milanoi should prepare the daughters for their wifely duties and that Parmuat, their ‘brother’ should teach them about the Maa culture. All these are in preparation for their circumcision. Although Mama Milanoi is opposed to the practice, she does not want to go against her husband and culture.
The girls are thereafter introduced to Kaelo’s enterprise in Nasila town. Taiyo is excited about the uniqueness and beauty of the business, but her sister’s interests are elsewhere.
Observation in chapter five
Kaelo declares that the daughters should be prepared for marriage and Circumcision. Questions from chapter five
Prepare a questionnaire you will use to collect information about Female circumcision among the Maasai.
Ask your elders about some of the practices in your community which are now no longer practiced.
Imagine that you are Mama Milanoi, your husband has just told you that your daughters are to be prepared for circumcision. Write a dialogue convincing him not to let your daughters undergo the rite.
THEMES FROM CHAPTER FIVE
Kaelo instructs Mama Milanoi to teach their daughters about the Nasilian culture. He also wants the girls to be trained in the ways of the people by Parmuat; their brother.
This covers Nasilian practices and their impacts. Tradtion begins with circumcision, its practices and impacts. For instance, if a girl got pregnant without being circumcised, she had to be circumcised at the time of giving birth and married of to the oldest man in the village (pg63).
Another aspect of tradition is welcoming guests whoever they were without asking questions (pg67).
Code of Conduct
Mama Milanoi and Kaelo reprimand their daughter Resian for sitting inappropriately pg64. Also, when welcoming guests, the people of Nasila did not ask what the guests business was unless he told them (pg68.)
Kaelo’s daughters spend the night thinking of what was to become of them now that the eldest man in Nasila had beseeched them to follow and obey the traditions of Nasila (pg58).
Styles And Stylistic Devices In Chapter Five
Omniscient narration (pg57-58) reveals to us taiyo’s fear of the knife and her plans to evade it. (pg 62) Mama milanoi’s reservations against circumcision.
Dialogue (pg59-61)- explores the change in Kaelo to a full Nasilian and his willingness to let the daughters be ingratiated fully into the tribe.
Personification (pg63) FGM is said to be “rearing its ugly head.” To show its monstrosity. Description (pg64) the sitting room (65) the arrangement of goods in the shop. (67) Joseph Parmuat. Simile (pg 60) “… like the legendary dilemma…” (pg 64) “… like an overfed lizard…” Rhetorical Questions (pg62)
Kaelo gives instructions on the type of behavior expected of in his homestead to the daughters and the two gentlemen in the house. Parmuat is instructed to induct the girls and he begins his work in earnest. He tells the girls about the origin of the cut and the reasons behind it. Furthermore, he promises to help the girls fight the cut and requests them to direct the blame of its persistence on women and not men.
Parsimei Ole Kaelo reasserts his authority by dictating the rules of conductin his homestead. His speech is eloquent and designed to evoke respect and admiration whilst instilling fear to the young people.
The position of woman in society
When Yeiyo-botorr visits she commends the girls for hard work in the kitchen. Yeiyo-botorr and Mama Milanoi concur that the girls will make good wives when they get married. Taiyo’s excitement shows when she contributes to the conversation, however, Resian does not agree with the women’s observation that hard work should not just be about pleasing the menfolk.
Resian’s resistance earns her a sharp reprimand from the older women. Yeiyo-botorr says Resian’s condition is an Olkueny which can only be removed by the cut.
Resistance to the status quo
Resian opposes the traditional position of a woman in the society. Her outburst though considered as irrational, speaks about women who believe in the achievement of their dreams and not being held down by the cultural demands of the society.
STYLES AND STYLISTIC DEVICES
Description (pg75) reveals the dedication of the girls to help their mother which is interpreted to mean they had been raised well.
Simile (pg75) “… like a leopard would while stealthly…”
Foreshadowing; the simile in pg75 is a premonition of Olarinkoi real intention of coming to Kaelo’s homestead.
Oral Tradition (legend)-(83-87) Parmuat describes to the girls how circumcision begun and who were responsible for it.
Mama Milanoi subtly introduces the topic of FGM to her daughter Resian, however, before she is able to explain further on the issue, she is rudely interrupted by Oluisudori who pays them a visit. Resian welcomes Oluisudori into their home and she is surprised by his mannerism and arrogance. While Resian is grappling with Oluisudori importance to her father, she notices the fear and apprehension in her father’s eyes. When Taiyo, who had left earlier with her father, returns, Resian can’t hold it in but tell her sister about the peculiar guest.
The girls are told by Parmuat about Oluisudori which raises more fear in them. However, Resian was elated by the fact that her mother had asked her about FGM. When they returned to the house after Oluisudori had left, they children were met by silennce and gloomy parents. They couldn’t tell whatever was wrong.
Observation in Chapter Seven
Kaelo learns the hard way Oluisudori’s crafty ways of exploiting those in his debt. Mama Milanoi begins to assimilate Resian to the FGM culture of the Maasai.
Questions from Chapter Seven
Why do you think Mama Milanoi introduced the topic of FGM to her daughter Resian? Do you think Parmuat’s evaluation of Oloisudori was right? Explain.
For the first time Mama Milanoi opens up a discussion on the subject she had been postponing. She hopes to discuss it with Resian but is rudely interrupted by Oluisudori. The girls are excited to know what opinion their mother holds on the issue.
Resian is disturbed to see her father humble before Oluisudori. It seems men of Means like Oluisudori have the power to sway good tidings to struggling business people like Kaelo that is why Kaelo showers praise to Oluisudori while introducing him to his wife.
Oluisudori looks at Resian Lustfully making her uncomfortable and overly embarrassed and incensed by his lack of decorum.
STYLES AND STYLISTIC DEVICES
Dialogue: Resian strikes a conversation with her mother about FGM and re-affirms the legend Parmuat had told the girls about FGM. There is also a conversation between the self-important Oluisudori and Resian. Parmuat, Resian and Taiyo also talk about Oluisudori and how he is known in Nasila. Taiyo tries in vain to open a conversation with her dad but fails after Oluisudori’s exit.
Description: (pg92) the image of Oluisudori
Parsimei Ole Kaelo and Mama Milanoi are disturbed by Oluisudori’s visit. Known for his crafty means, Olusudori had asked Kaelo to allow him marry Resian. Kaelo feels cheated by fate and has nothing to do. Although, he had hated his daughter Resian, he does not like the idea of giving her to the man. Furthermore, the request for the girl to be circumcised before the official marriage is a thorny issue to the family. However, they decide Resian will be circumcised in matrimony.
Mama Milanoi delves into the cultural laws of the Maa people which could protect her daughter but realises that most of them have ceased to exist. Though troubled, they decide not to tell the girls the grave matter until when the time is right. The marriage ceremony is to occur in one month.
Observations in chapter Eight
Mama Milanoi and Kaelo’s greed becomes apparent when they are willing to let their child marry Oluisudori instead of losing their ‘hard-earned’ wealth.
Questions from chapter Eight
Would you have agreed to let your daughter go if you were in Ole Kaelo’s shoes? THEMES
Oluisudori knowing Kaelo is heavily indebted to him uses the opportunity to ask for Resian’s hand in marriage.(pg111)”Didn’t you tell your wife just now that there is nothing I should be denied in your home?”
Mama Milanoi reminisces about the days a man could not marry a daughter of his age mate and the punishment meted on all men when one of them tried to seduce a young girl.
In page 107, Kaelo takes us back to the cult called Ilmasonik- a fictional religious cult which was believed to accept human sacrifices from members for material gain
STYLES AND STYLISTIC DEVICES
Simile (pg107) “… like ilmintilis being roasted in fire.”; (pg108) “… like toying with live electrified wire.” (Pg109) “… like a stinking rotten carcass.” (Pg113) “… like a woman in labour.” (pg115) “like a bushfire during a drought” Pg116 “as fast as their legs could carry them.” “like the waters of Nasila and all the rivers of Maa.” Pg119 “like an animal that was unable to freeitself from a snare.” Pg121 “like ominous black clouds.”
Metaphor (pg115) … it was a tsunami that did not discriminate.” (Pg117) “Nasila had been there as far back as the people could remember……” The paragraph uses the river as a metaphor of the Maa culture which now had been polluted by new cultures, some good and others bad. (pg118) Resian …… was a hard nut to crack.” In reference to Resian incorrigible stand. (pg119) “…the way a bull would do to expel…” to show the helpless anger in Kaelo
Rhetorical questions: are widely used within the chapter to show the helpless dilemma in which Mama Milanoi and Ole Kaelo had found themselves. (pg108, 109, 112,120)
Idioms; (Pg1110) “…chicken had come home to roost.” “… demanding his pound of flesh.” (pg111) “…pulling my leg” “…apple of his eye.” (pg112) “… sacrificial lamb.” (pg116) “…hell broke loose.”
Joseph Parmuat is finding it difficult to deal with Taiyo’s overtures because he does not want to taint his good name. In order to keep his time with Taiyo sane, he makes sure that Resian is with them. Although Resian was not interested in music and dance as her sister, she loved so much to learn about her own culture.
Therefore, Joseph made sure that he taught them about the culture just to make sure that Resian participated. He taught them about the different types of love(pg 124-127) a discussion which ended with circumcision.
The next, however, Taiyo visited Parmuat and confessed to him her undying love. Parmuat admits to having fallen in love with her but after weighing the risks involved, plans to turn down on their secret affair.
Observation from the chapter
There different kinds of relationships among the Maa people involving males and females such as: – Elangatare- love between young people that could end up in marriage
Patureishi- platonic love between young people that went on even after they had met their prospective husbands and wives.
Taiyo’s love for Parmuat that could threaten their brother-sister arrangement according to the Nasilian culture.
Questions from the chapter
Do you support the illicit love between Taiyo and Parmuat?
Do you think a boy and a girl can be in a long term platonic relationship in the modern day society? Explain your answer.
THEMES FROM THE CHAPTER
The brewing affection between Taiyo has reached its explosion and the girl decides she cannot hide it anymore. The boy on the other hand has reservations about its implications.
The girls learn about the two kinds of relationships that existed among young people of the opposite sex i.e. Elangatare- love between young people that could end up in marriage and Patureishi- platonic love between young people that went on even after they had met their prospective husbands and wives.
STYLES AND STYLISTIC DEVICES
Description: (pg123) the desire building up between Parmuat and Taiyo is captured well in the first paragraph of the page. Also (pg133)
Personification: (pg129) “The only thing that stood between them was archaic Nasila culture. Culture is abstract idea not a physical thing. Also (pg 134)
Saying: (pg129) “Why go fishing in shallow waters while the blue sea is teeming with fish?” Simile (pg136) “….like a deserted heart.” “….. like fish that had just jumped out of water…” Flashback: the day Taiyo saw Parmuat for the first time. (pg135)
Idioms: (pg128)“… dustbin of history…” (pg135) “….seventh heaven…”
The day of Resian’s marriage is fast approaching and Ole Kaelo and wife have never found a way of revealing it to their daughter. However, Resian’s sensitivity tells her that everything is not well and that she and her family are not safe.
In order to save their family, Kaelo and wife plan to talk to the people who can help. Kaelo visits his friend Supeyo to ask for financial help and the wife pays a visit to her in laws- the wives of Parsimei.
Meanwhile, the girls are told to take their lunch at the family shop. On their way back, they are almost raped by two assailant but to their luck, there are saved by Olarinkoi.
Observations from the chapter
Ole Kaelo attempts to safeguard his new financial status and at the same time save his daughters from Oluisudori’s clutches.
The girls realise that they are not safe from the venomous male dominant Nasila. Questions from the chapter
Imagine you are Taiyo, write a Thank you later to Olarinkoi for saving you from the assailants. What do you think made Resian to be in apprehensive mood?
Look at the superstition on page 138, does your community share similar stories? Share with a friend. THEMES FROM THE CHAPTER
Though she does not believe in superstition, Resian is disturbed by a bird called olmutut which cooed in their homestead. According to her, it was a harbinger of bad things to come.
Kaelo and his wife have reached a point of indecision on the matters pertaining to their children’s welfare and their family’s social class.
Resian feels that she is not safe in their home that is why before she goes to bed she double-checks all the doors and windows to make sure they are all locked. However, she still feels like she is being observed.
On their way from the shops the girls are accosted by assailants and nearly raped.
Taiyo and Resian burn with fury over what they thought as a tyrannical Nasila society where men thought that they had power over women. This is instigated by the near rape incident.
STYLES AND STYLISTIC DEVICES FROM THE CHAPTER
Idiom: (Pg138) “… buried his head in the sand…”
Simile: (pg138) “…. Like the proverbial ostrich…” (Pg141) “….like a ghost.”
Description: (pg141) Vivid description of the adrenaline charged Olarinkoi as he defended the girls from their assailants.
The girls wait for their parents to come with a burning desire to tell them of the events of the day. Their wait does not bear fruits since their parents arrive tired and occupied with their own tribulations. The following morning however, the girls blurt out sending their father into mad fury.
Mama Milanoi asks the girls to go and live with Simiren’s family. To their great delight, the girls stay at their uncles are days filled with laughter and lessons about their tradtion. The girls come to see the other side of their culture and the reluctance of Nasila families in sending their children to school.
Observation in the chapter
The girls come to appreciate Nasila culture and its isolation from the ongoing cultural pollution brought by western education.
The girls learn more about Emakererei and she ultimately win their hearts and becomes their heroine. Questions from chapter
Compare the life at Parsimei’s home and at Simireni’s home. Where would you like to live? Do you support polygamy?
Using Parsimei and Simiren’s family discuss the advantages and disadvantages of polygamy. Themes from the chapter
Kaelo’s daughters are traumatized by the whole near rape experience. They try to look for comfort from their parents but the parents are too pre-occupied nursing their own pain. Nevertheless, they receive love and concern from Simiren’s family and their trauma is lessened.
Impact of modernity/Education
Resian observes that the people of Nasila were skeptical about the impact of western education. Although modern education was now inevitable, it still made those who underwent it to leave their villages for greener pastures in the towns and cities. Furthermore, this education brought in like-minded people who were now threatening the Nasilian culture. At this point in time, it was the Nasilian culture that was struggling to stay afloat.
The role of Mentors
When the girls moved to Simiren’s homestead, they found the life their easy and very social. Also, they found out that they could find someone they could easily talk with on matters pertaining to another without judgment. That person was their yeiyo-kiti. Furthermore, they talked more about their idol Emakarerei, whom they learned a lot about from yeiyo-kiti! They looked forward to working with people like emakererei to end female circumcision.
Informal education (Ol kuak)
In order to understand the Nasilian culture, the girls find out that it is passed on from one person to the other through the word of mouth. From the old granny Kokoo-o-sein, children learn a lot about their identity and from parents, Aunts and uncles too.
Cultural education was also found in the activities performed and the inequality shown to all children regardless of the age. Unlike in Parsimei’s house where Resian and Taiyo held different positions, in Simiren’s house all were treated equally. Respect for the elders was also promoted.
Styles and stylistic devices
Metaphor: (pg144)“… teeming with wolves, hyenas and crazy vagabonds.”
Simile: (pg145)“… like the proverbial greedy hyena…” (pg146) “… like a dark cloud…” Idiom: (pg147) “… nipped in the bud….”
Ole Kaelo gathers up men to hunt for vagabonds who had nearly raped his girls. The hunt led by Kaelo and Parmuat is successful. But when the men are found, they seek refuge in the legs of elderly males and seek for penance. Kaelo finds out that the one of the men is a close relative.
Though their lives are spared, the men’s families are to pay for the atrocity committed to Kaelo and his family. When the girls heard of the elders’ verdict they were incensed. However, Mama Milanoi reasons with them until normalcy is returned.
Meanwhile, Kaelo continued to procrastinate as the clock of her daughter’s impending marriage ticked. The girls on the other hand, had learned a great deal from their stay at the family of Simiren and were now proactive members of the society.
Observations from the Chapter
Nasila cultural conflict resolution is to avoid bloodshed if the offending party shows remorse or encourage communal bloodshed even if the offending party was an individual.
The girls believe the appropriate punishment for the vagabonds was a lifetime in jail- a sharp contradiction to a sense of normalcy that had been forged by the giving of a token of remorse.
Questions from the chapter
Do you support the conflict resolution model used by Elders in the matters of the girls verses the two men? Explain?
THEMES FROM THE CHAPTER
The men are ready for war, however, when reason reasserts itself, they choose to amicably resolve the issues. The two boys who attempted to rape the girls are to atone for their transgressions with five heifers. Although, the conflict resolution was done amicably, the aggrieved parties, especially the girls were not involved in the matter. Whatever their feelings were, they were considered irrelevant in the situation hence Resian’s reaction when she heard the elders’ verdict.
STYLES AND STYLISTIC DEVICES
Simile: (pg156) “ …. Mad like a buffalo that had been infected…” (pg156) “… groaned loudly like one in pain…” (pg157) “… like the oluorrur tree under a turbulent gale.” (pg163-4) “Like chicks that tucked their heads….”
Idioms: (pg158) “…the die was cast.” (pg159) “whipping boys.” (pg166)“….hit the roof with indination.”(pg167) “… stem the tide…” (pg168) “… lull before a turbulent storm.”
Alliteration (pg157) “striding swiftly…. Deep sorrowful sound sent panic-stricken children streaming….”
Description: (pg160-161) The scene of the approaching men, birds flying creates mental pictures of the rising plain and builds up to what is about to happen.
Oloisudori Loonkiya officially comes to pay his dowry for Resian. He specifically ask for Resian to be the one to serve them. Resian is reluctant, however, after so much persuasion, she concedes. The girls impress the guests to the pride of their parents.
Oloisudori brings expensive gifts for Kaelo’s family. Mother and father are very happy but the girls have their own reservations.
After entertaining the guests, Ole Kaelo tries to speak to his daughter Resian about her impending nuptials but is rudely interrupted when the daughter mentions going to university.
Observation from the Chapter
-Ole Kaelo handles the marriage matter discreetly, away from his overly suspicious daughter Resian.
– Although marriage affects the woman a lot, men completely lock them out of the undertakings that lead to the union.
Questions from the chapter
Do you think it was okay for the parents to organise Resian’s marriage behind her back?
What do you think are the traditional roles of a woman as observed in this chapter and anywhere else in the book? Explain.
THEMES FROM THE CHAPTER
Kaelo’s family prepares to receive the prospective groom. They give into Oloisudori’s demands that Resian should be the one to serve them. Oblivious to Resian, it was a parade for Oloisudori’s friends to approve his choice of a wife In order to please her guests
It is well established in the previous chapters that Oloisudori was a wealthy man. However, in this chapter, the man’s lavish lifestyle is shown in the type of cars he comes with and the company he keeps (pg177).
Protection of the girl child
Nasila culture protected the girl child against the lustful eyes of male visitors like Oloisudori. When the girls were at their uncle’s house, they hardly saw him (pg175)
STYLES AND STYLISTIC DEVICES
Metaphor: (pg170) “… the way a tortoise withdraws into his shell.” (pg174) “… a newborn mongrel….” (pg176) Resian compared her father to a major Domo, “…flick out like that of a chameleon.” (pg178) “… like a demon she thought….”
Simile: (pg171) “…. Like a monster….”
Description: of the entry of Oloisudori with his entourage
Ole Kaelo and Mama Milanoi visit Oloisudori and enjoy the glamour and beauty of the man’s wealth. After the visit, Ole Kaelo believes that he has made the right decision for his daughter despite the uncertainty in his heart. Another problem is that Resian won’t go that easy without a fight. However, they plan to stage a kidnapping if Resian resists.
On the appointed day that Resian is to go with her husband, Oloisudori arrive in time with a contingent including an anesthetist if the girl refuses.
Oloisudori informs Resian that she is now his wife. Resian runs away from home to confront her father who confirms the betrothal. She is enraged by her father’s open betrayal. Her anger leads to a shouting match in her father’s office.
After the bitter confrontation, Resian runs away and follows Olarinkoi.
Observation from the chapter
-Resian’s parents betray her trust in them by marrying her off to Oloisudori- a man she despised. – disregard for human dignity is seen in the plans to kidnap Resian and fore her to be Oloisudori’s wife.
Questions from the chapter
We currently live in the world of slay queens and sponsors. Basing your illustrations from what you know about ‘sponsors’ do you think Resian’s reaction is justified?
Are parents allowed to make decisions regarding their daughters without consulting them? explain THEMES FROM THE CHAPTER
Oloisudori takes Ole Kaelo and Mama milanoi on the guided tour of his vast estates. Both the parents of Resian feel proud to be associated with a man of such status. In fact, kaelo harbours delusions that his daughter Resian will be in capable hands. Both parents are carried by the beauty and grandeur of the house Oloisudori had built for Resian (pg190).
Violation of individual rights
Kaelo and Mama Milanoi finalise the deal of their daughter’s marriage without even informing her. They leave every to chance and when Oloisudori comes to pick her, Resian is stupefied by his words (pg205).
When Resian learns that she had been married off to Oloisudori without her consent, she feels utterly lost that her parents could actually pull such a thing without telling her(pg203). She cries all the way to her father’s shop to confirm the outrageous betrothal (pg206). To her consternation, she finds her father unfettered by the gravity of his act (pg207-9).
Both Kaelo do not regard their contemptible marriage plans as invasion to individual liberties. In fact Kaelo has the guts to declare that if his daughter refused to go with Oloisudori at will, they should stage a kidnapping (pg191-2). Mama milanoi is a silent contributor to the plans, however she does not raise her objection to any of them. she feels that everything is going wrong but she cannot go against her for better for worse husband.
STYLES AND STYLISTIC DEVICES FROM THE CHAPTER
Simile: (pg185 ) Resian’s beauty is compared to that of a legendary beautiful Maa woman, (pg 186) “She was also like the famous English lady….” (191) “.. like morning fog.” (pg192) “… like an antelope…” “…like a spider did with a fly…” (pg194) “like water that churned…” (pg208)” … like one hit by a bolt of lightning.” (pg209) “… like one possessed with demented spirits.” (pg210) “… cracked like a whip.”
Description: (pg186) first paragraph; (pg198) description of Resian’s dress.(pg201) description of how Oloisudori looked at Resian.
Allusion: (pg186) the story of Lord Egerton lover. (pg194) mention of Goldenberg and AngloLeasing major corruption scandals in Kenya.
Idioms; (pg187) “… added feather to his cap.” (pg195) “… draw the rug from beneath his feet,” (pg200) “.. to develop cold feet..”
Flashback (pg188) “ He reclined on his so far and let…”
Metaphor: (pg191) “… lead her to the honey pot…” (pg192) Resian was equated to a goat’s kid that refused to suckle, (pg196) “…was a chattel to be secured by…” (pg205) “Her eyes were twin rivulets…”
Hyperbole (pg203) happiest lady in the whole of East Africa.”
Resian takes Olarinkoi for his word and elopes with him. Being desperate to get away from her parents and Oloisudori, she suffers silently behind the pick-up truck to her destination. Her hopes are dashed when she realizes that Olarinkoi had kidnapped her for himself. He had no plans of taking her to Emakererei.
Olarinkoi attempts to rape her but she gets the better of him. She, however, is left for the dead. After her recovery, she wins the affection of the woman who nursed her.
Observation from the Chapter
Olarinkoi tricks Resian into another matrimony.
Resian proves to be wild and tenacious as she fights against Olarinkoi’s brutal assault. Resian’s fighting spirit wins the admiration of the woman who nursed her back to life. Questions from the Chapter
Outline the activities that led to the near rape experience of Resian.
You are a counselor mandated to counsel Resian from her near rape experience, write down the points you will consider in your advice.
Imagine Resian is narrating to you her ordeal with Olarinkoi. Write down five things you will do to listen actively.
THEMES FROM THE CHAPTER
Resian is housed by a kindly woman who generously offers her a blanket for her long pick up ride to Olarinkoi’s home. After the rape attempt on her, she meets a gorgeous woman who takes care of her as only a mother would. Resian is touched by the woman’s kindness.
When Resian started her journey in the morning, she was in high spirits. She braved the mosquitoes and the unforgiving sun with high hopes of meeting her role model. For the first time in her entire life, she was vivacious with little doubt until Olarinkoi attempted to rape her.
Resian trusted Olarinkoi to save her from her father’s brutality and advances of Oloisudori only for Olarinkoi to turn against her. Previously, Olarinkoi had earned her admiration and trust when he saved Resian and Taiyo from the vagabonds who had tried to rape them.
STYLES AND STYLISTIC DEVICES
Description (pg214)(pg223) “She tried to lift her head…..” (pg226)”It was late afternoon when…” (pg227) “Resian could not estimate her age….”
Simile: (pg215) like a sow that had been rolling….” (pg219) “And like a matchstick that kindled….” (pg221) “…flesh like a ferocious animal..” “…fiercely like a lioness.” (pg222) “…like a remote recollection of a distant past…” (pg223) “ like the image of a charging elephant.” (pg228) “… growled like an irate bull…” (pg230) “…like a proverbial pig…”
Idiom: (pg219) “from frying pan to the fire”, “a flicker of hope…” (pg228) “…with a silver spoon.” “….some bitter bile rose… (pg233) “….dipping his dirty finger into the porridge..” “…music to Resian’s ears!”
Metaphor: (pg219) “Was Olarinkoi a beast…” (pg227) “… resembled that of the legendary enenaunerr…” Alliteration: /f/- “float fleetingly …of fanciful…”
Dream: (pg220) Resian’s dream
Allusion: (pg230) Biblical allusion- Jobs story;(pg231) famous quote: “ What pained one most was not the injustices carried out against one by one’s adversaries, but the silence of those who called themselves his or her friends at the time the injustice was being carried out.”
Saying: (pg231) “Although one had to know which side their bread was buttered….” Hyperbole: (pg231) “… sucked your veins dry…”
Resian takes time to heal and regain her strength back. While she heals, her mother-in-law to be the enkoiboni berates her with insults. Meanwhile, Olarinkoi pays her a visit to inform her about her
intended circumcision and their fleeing to Tanzania before Oloisudori and Kaelo should get to them. On the other hand, the woman who had been taking care of her, the Enkabaani (medicine woman and nurse) was struggling to secure Resian’s freedom from the forced molestation and subsequent marriage. She succeeds in securing a means of transport in time for Resian to escape Olarinkoi, his mother and subsequent rituals they had planned.
The journey to Minik ene Nkoitoi proves to be arduous and a reflective one for Resian. Resian is delighted to meet Minik who instantly recognizes her. Apparently, Resian is one of the most sought after girls with a bounty of half a million on her head!
Observations from the chapter
Resian’s commitment and passion to go places attracts the love and care of Entabaani, whose role was to prepare her for circumcision. The entabaani shows a sincere dedication and sacrifices a lot like Grusha did in The Caucasian Chalk circle ensure Resian got to her destination.
Questions from the Chapter
Imagine you are Resian, write a personal journal about your experiences on the way to Minik ene Nkointoi’s Ranch.
Themes from the chapter
Poaching/ environmental destruction
The Enkoboini tells Resain of how Oloisudori killed elephants for their tusks- a thing that earned him his wealth status (pg236. While traveling to Minik’s Ranch, Resian is disturbed by the indiscriminate cutting of trees. She hopes the efforts of Wangari Maathai (her heroine) will bear fruits and people we start valuing trees (pg250).
Resian sees a lot of poverty in her surrounding beginning with Olarinkoi’s house, her neighbours and the emaciated children with their young mothers (pg236-9).
After gaining some energy, Resian ventures into the village and there she meets women younger than her married to older men. What disturbed Resian was the young women; some around 15 or 16 had children with them (pg239).
Styles and Stylistic Devices
Simile: (pg236) “…stack ivory….like firewood.” “…Rhino horns… thrown into a heap like tree stumps….” (pg243)“… like a physical force….” (pg245) “… like a ferocious leopard…” “…like a snake…” (pg246) “…scooped her like a little baby…” (pg249) “…like embarie the coward fox…” (pg252) “… as if from a geyser.”
Allusion: (pg242) Biblical allusion- Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane. (pg251) “…find her nirvana..” (pg257) biblical allusion 1st Cor 12:13
Description: (pg243) “Then the moon emerged, its sad yellow….” (pg245-6) “She woke up with a start…” Personification: (pg243) moon is said to be sad.
Onomatopoeia: (pg243) howls of hyena, groaning of wild dogs, chirrup of crickets and cicadas. Dream: (pg244) about Resian’s fear of the cut.
Hyperbole: (pg247) “…. A trail of fire down her stomach..”
Idiom; (pg250) “…hit a wall.”
Proverb: (pg257)“Home was never far for one who was still alive.”
Resian is delighted to arrive at Ntaare Naju- Minik Ene Nkoitoi the Emakererei’s ranch. Minik gladly welcomes her and offers her a job at the ranch. She also lets Nabaru stay because the poor woman had nowhere else to go after Ilarinkoi’s threat. Minik is proud of Resian’s fighting spirit and commends her for standing against Oloisudori and Olarinkoi.
Observation from Chapter
Resian is an embodiment of hope and faith and her strive to win against all odds finally lands her in the capable hands of Minik.
QUESTIONS FROM THE CHAPTER
Do you think Minik was the wasp or a witch as the people of Nasila called her? Explain.
Imagine you are Resian and have been invited to talk about the will to fight. Write the speech you will give.
THEMES FROM THE CHAPTER
Minik welcomes Resian with open arms she does not give Resian to explain her situation. Like a loving mother, she allows Resian to clean up eat before she could listen to her situation. Furthermore, she offers Resian a job and allows Nabaru to stay.
Struggle against patriarchy
Resian and Nabaru give an account of whatever happened in the hands of Olarinkoi and Resian’s near death experience. This coupled with the struggle Minik is involved in reveals the dedication of the women folk to stand against the decadent Nasila culture (pg262).
Minik points out that she is an ardent supporter of Maa traditions but she believes that culture is dynamic and therefore it should shed negative aspects. She says, FGM like the culture of adorning heavy copper wires by young brides called emuata should be done away with (pg263).
Resian feels triumphant after being welcomed by Minik. She had successfully outwitted two men who wanted to marry her and also compel her into FGM (pg265).
STYLES AND STYLISTIC DEVICES
Hyperbole: (pg258) “…. Seas of tawny woolly animals flowing…”
Description: (pg258) The features of Resian are explored by Minik at length and those of Minik. (pg260) description of Minik’s home. (pg266) the two bedroomed house in which Resian was to live.
Simile: (pg259) “… aura like that of her principal in…”
Metaphor: (pg267) Minik was called a wasp by the people of Nasila.
Resian is doing well under the wing of her mentor Minik the Emakererei. However, before she could settle in and know Minik well- a hard thing to do for Minik is very official when dealing with people- a rescued girl is brought to the ranch. The girl turns to be Taiyo- Resian’s sister.
Apparently, Taiyo had been lured to an isolated by three women- with an assurance from her mother that everything was well. According to what she was told, she was only going to persuade her sister Resian to eat. Before she knew she had been duped, she was grabbed and brutally circumcised and watched ove by Oloisudori goons. The goons killed Joseph Parmuat- a man who had helped save Taiyo.
As Taiyo progressively heal, the girls , Nabaru and Minik try to find fault in the parents who encouraged female circumcision and the community that encouraged it. The girls blamed their parents and vowed to become better Maa parents as they advocated against the vice.
Observation from the Chapter
Born a very clumsy and pessimistic child, Resian proves to be very hardworking and a keen learner ready to take on the world. This is a contrast from a Resian we meet at the beginning of the book. She is also very vibrant.
The easily trusting and loving Taiyo is lured into FGM. It is here that we learn that the girls’ mother was privy to all that was going on with the girls. She was in cohorts with their father.
Questions from the Chapter
What do you think was the reason behind Resian change of perception in life?
According to you own opinion, were the girls’ parents at fault for choosing Oloisudori for a husband for their daughters?
THEMES FROM THE CHAPTER
Impacts of Female Genital Mutilation
After Taiyo’s mutilation she suffers extreme pain that leads to her temporary memory loss and trauma. She had to undergo extensive conselling to come to terms with what she had gone through.
STYLES AND STYLISTIC DEVICES
Simile: (pg268) “… homestead like a hawk.” (pg271) “..like men fleeing from a burning village…”
Metaphor: (pg 269) “ bitter bile sizzled inside her and he acid burned her heart searing it the way fire would sear dry bushes.” -to show how painful the situation had made Minik. (pg271) “…shot past the range of their missiles.”
Taiyo and Resian receive their letters of admission to Egerton University. While celebrating their farewell party, the girls are confronted by Oloisudori and his goons. Oloisudori demands that he should be given one of the girls since he had already paid double the bride price.
Minik cautions him but it is only after the threat of violence and burning of his cars that the man and his goons left. The following day, the girls are driven to their new school.
Observations from the Chapter
The girls finally get their admissions to the university of their dream. It was a sweet victory given the struggle they had put to get here. Their defiance and assistance from those who believed finally pays off.
Questions from the Chapter
Imagine you are Taiyo – A freshman/woman at Egerton university. Your class has organised a trip to Nasila to talk to young people in schools about the importance of not giving up in life. Write a speech titled ‘Your Dreams are Valid,’ based on Taiyo life experiences in the book.
THEMES FROM THE CHAPTER
The girls at Ntara Naaju celebrate their triumph against those aspects of culture considered awkward. The celebration reach crescendo when Oulisuduri and his henchmen are clobbered and chased away from the ranch.
STYLES AND STYLISTIC DEVICES
Dialogue: (pg282-3) there is a bitter exchange between O loisudori and Minik.
CHARACTER AND CHARACTERISATION IN BLOSSOMS OF THE SAVANNAH
Characters are created by the author to disseminate information and at the same time entertain the audience. In order to create a compelling narrative, authors always create likeable characters (protagonists) and unlikable characters (antagonists.) In order for these characters to reveal themselves to readers, they ought to have certain attributes that either earn sympathy or empathy from the readers. When a reader relates to the tribulations of the character, the reader, therefore, forms a kind of connection to the story and enjoys its plot. Sometimes, readers hate certain character and form negative opinions about them. Such characters become antagonists and anything they do is despised. Protagonists and antagonists form the anticipation in the story which is also known as suspense.
In Blossoms, the protagonists are Resian, Taiyo, and Minik ene Nkoitoi. These characters attempt to fight the forces of negative traditions that are pulling Nasila down. In their quest, they meet people who are ready to help them achieve their goals. These characters are called supporting character. Such characters are Joseph Parmuat, Yeiyo Kiti, Nabaru the enkabaani among others.
On the other hand, the antagonists in the book are led by Parsimei Ole Kaelo, Oloisudori and Olarinkoi. These characters receive support from characters like Yeiyo bottorr, Mama Milanoi, Enkoboini and the Enkamuratani. These characters pose a real danger in the quest for the protagonists to achieve their goals. Other characters like the kind elderly woman who offered Resian a blanket on her maiden voyage to Inkiito, the driver and the rescuers, Oloisuduri’s gang, the women who lured Taiyo to the enkamuratani, workers at Ntaara Naaju ranch work at linking specific gaps in the development of the plot.
RESIAN ENE KAELO
Resian is the second daughter of Parsimei Ole Kaelo and Mama Milanoi. She is the sister to Taiyo. Resian contributes greatly to the development of the story. From the onset of the play, Resian is adamant that she wants to join the university. Her dream is however delayed by the fact that her confidant sister is reluctant to talk to their father about further education of the both of them.
Though Resian can be looked at as a weakling, she displays great courage as she handles various projectiles thrown her way. She was taught from her childhood to be sensitive because of her father lack of love for her. It turns out that this worked out the be sceptical about her father’s inclinations and sudden change of heart.
Although Taiyo’s happiness over Parmuat’s love for her clouds her judgment of the things around them. Resian is keen-eyed and very suspicious. She feels that something is wrong and that is why she takes great care to lock the doors before she sleeps.
As a woman, she is viewed as irrelevant and that is why she points out the equality for all. Firstly, she refuses Yeiyo botorr’s declaration that they had been raised well like women. Secondly, she points out to her father that she will not marry Oloisudori. And finally, she fights intensely to maintain her dignity when Olarinkoi attempts to rape her.
Because of her courage and focus, Resian astounds Nabaru who devotes her life in making sure that she achieves her life goals. Granting that Nabaru had been hired specifically to handle Resian’s healing after circumcision, her change of heart speaks a lot about the passion and focus Resian exuded in those days
she was unconscious. It would have been easier for her to die and forget all about the painful world around her but she chose to withstand the pain and live another day. Such is the commitment that converts Nabaru into Resian’s follower.
Were it not for Resian’s wild beauty, Oloisudori would not have followed her to the ends of the world as he did. Resian represented an enchanting beauty that made Oloisudori go to extra length to decorate a house for her. Knowing her rebelliousness, Oloisudori had hired professionals to kidnap her. Even though he knew he was losing, he risks his life to fetch her in Ntaare Naaju Ranch. According to Oloisudori, all his wives had struggled to please him, but Resian…
Resian’s outstanding and remarkable performance is due to the following character traits.
Determined/vigilant/focused/open-minded: She was determined to join university no matter the cost. This makes her maintain her focus even when all seemed hopeless. Although she had deep respect for her elders, she was unafraid of speaking her mind. She openly tells of the pro-male superiority mothers and defiantly tells her father that she was not going to marry Oloisudori. In fact, she tells Oloisudori off. Furthermore, she is keen to see what is around her and also evil lurking in the darkness and that is why she noted the fishy business between her father and Oloisudori.
At the beginning of the book, Resian comes off as a timid weakling who heavily relies on her sister for support. Throughout the book, she uses her sister as a crutch for social functions. She could only
interact with other people through her very social sister. But when her world is invaded, Resian proves to be brave. She walks out from Oloisudori, shouts at her father and bites Olarinkoi just to survive.
Due to lack of fatherly affection, Resian seems sullen, someone lost into her only world. Her withdrawal from those around her made it impossible to be lovable hence she always received angry outbursts from her father. This made her grow with little confidence especially before her father. We see her break utensils or knock at objects whenever her father is around. However, these qualities do not render Resian into a resigned positioned in fact they empower her into a diligent, self-assured woman who is ready to fight for the rights of the weak.
Despite her lack of love from father and aloof mother, Resian’s vulnerability earns her love from her sister, Nabaru and Minik. Minik observes that although she is needy, there is a wild woman hidden within her. In order for Resian to win her battles, she heavily becomes dependent on those around her. She needs Taiyo to talk to their father about their joining university, she relies on Nabaru to find her transportation to Ntaare Naaju and she works hard to get help from Minik to join the university.
Resian is a radical, she believes in the dynamism of culture and why it should change to suit the changing society. She refuses to agree with the traditional role of women- the one she perceives as enslavement as men like Olarinkoi lie around waiting to be served like kings. Her opinions make her be considered as one possessed with olkuenyi (kisirani)
Taiyo blames Resian for getting lost into her books while she works at arranging their bedroom when they move to Nasila. Resian seems at home with just lying around while her sister works. Apart from laziness, Resian is stubborn. She refuses to serve her father’s guests alone unless Taiyo is there with her. She also insists on pursuing further education until when her dream comes true.
TAIYO ENE KAELO
She is Resian’s sister and the firstborn of Ole Kaelo. Throughout her childhood, Taiyo was an apple of her father’s eye. She was free with her father and she learnt to trust him as a confidant. However, just before they left Nakuru, she saw the other side of her father. for the first time in her life, he had said a defiant no to a request she had made. Taiyo had wanted to attend a musical extravaganza in Mombasa.
From that day, Taiyo became afraid of her father. In fact, she becomes reluctant to ask for further favours. Although Resian breathes on her shoulder seek their father’s blessings to join campus, Taiyo does not have the guts to face her father. It is like her childhood innocence was broken the day her father rebuffed her.
As observed earlier, Taiyo is a significant pillar in the book. She is the link between her sister and her parents, especially their father. Taiyo also helps her sister grow socially. Taiyo is a happy naïve soul who bends to the whims of the society. Although she has certain principals, she does not question authority.
It is her naivety that makes it easy for her mother to lure her into circumcision. She truly and dearly believed that her folks meant well for them and that is why she did not see it coming. Nevertheless, her
circumcision presents a different perspective in the fight against FGM. She is advised not to become a victim but look at ways of preventing such an ordeal from happening to others. Apart from Minik and Nabaru, who had also undergone the rite, she would represent the younger women who were circumcised and were now steadfastly fighting against the right.
She also presents the class of young people whose dreams were shuttered just because they had chosen ‘unconventional’ careers. Taiyo loved performance arts-singing and dancing- professions associated with women and men who are considered to be morally corrupt. Her father did not want his child to ‘get lost’ and that is why he vehemently condemned her.
Taiyo’s role is manifested through the following character traits:
Taiyo has been raised up with love and direct confidence in her dad. In this regard, she grows up as a naïve innocent girl who easily believes in the goodness of the people around her. She was not suspicious at all when her mother asked her to go with some women who would take her to her sister Resian. She also believed strongly that her dad would never say no to her.
Taiyo takes care of her sister Resian. This makes Resian very dependent on her elder sister. It is through Taiyo that Resian can get through their and Taiyo proves an invaluable confidant. Taiyo also makes friends easily. Her social skills earns her a boyfriend in Nakuru and also in Nasila
Through her musical skills, Taiyo seems to enjoy making people happy and having a good. This is one of the reasons she asks for permission to attend the music extravaganza in Mombasa.
Her musical skills earn her a spot in the Mombasa musical extravaganza. When training with Parmuat she shows remarkable energy and some selfish predisposition since she wants Parmuat for herself.
Respectful and obedient
She obeys her elders without questions and believes in the opinions of the adults around her even when she does not agree with. That is why she did not object to yeiyo botorr’s description of the role of women in society.
PARSIMEI OLE KAELO
He is the brother to Simiren and the husband to Mama Milanoi. Parsimei has two daughter; Taiyo and Resian. Formerly an employee of Agribix Limited in Nakuru, Parsimei finds himself thrown into the street by early retirement otherwise known as retrenchment. An ambitious fellow, Parsimei is introduced to one Oloisudori Lonkiyaa, a lewd rich fellow with connections in every government agency.
Parsimei receives huge loan from Oloisudori which he uses to build a home and an agribusiness in his hometown of Nasila. Having made a groundbreaking entry in Nasila- a town he had left in 20 years,
Kaelo learns of Oloisudori’s shrewd behavior. However, it is too late to back down since he already owes Oloisudori a lot.
Kaelo’s relationship with Oloisudori develops the story into a fast paced suspense driven tale. Shortly after oloisudori is introduced, he demands pay in the form of a wife. His sights are set on Resian- the youngest daughter of Kaelo.
In this tale, Kaelo becomes the proverbial hyena who wants to get two impossible things. He wants to secure his business contracts and standing in society and at the same time, protect his daughters. Having been driven into dilemma, Kaelo chooses to sacrifice his daughter.
In so doing Kaelo spoils the reputation of monogamy since his house becomes the haunted house and Simiren- a polygamist makes a happy home filled with love, laughter and order. Kaelo’s daughters find it easier to live and interact with the Simiren’s than their own parents.
As the plot thickens, it is evident that Kaelo is truly blinded by Oloisudori’s wealth. Although he knows and understands the man’s reputation, he believes that such a gangsta would make for a good son-in law and a better husband for his hot-headed daughter Resian. Equally troubling it is Kaelo’s decision to let go of his other daughter Taiyo when Resian skips town.
The following are Kaelo’s Character traits:
Kaelo works hard to make into the job market. In Nakuru he diligently serves Agribix and his hardwork pays off. By the time of his retirement, he had worked his way to the position of the manager. After retrenchment, Kaelo shows his ambition for success by setting sights to opening an agribusiness in his home town. Such an investment is at home with his qualification and with the right person he could make a lot of money and that is why he chooses Oloisudori as a business partner. Kaelo’s focus to succeed makes him sacrifice his daughters while hiding in the tradition of his people.
Kaelo thinks of himself and not others. He puts the life of his daughters Resain and Taiyo at great risk for selfish gains. Although he knows how dangerous Oluisudori is, he tries as much to rationalize why he was making the best decision for his daughters. According to him, the other wives of Oluisudori were daughters of men like him.
When confronted by his brother (on behalf of the elders) on why he had only one wife, he calls the elders ‘megalomaniacs who were still trapped in the archaic traditions.” This reveals Kaelo’s short temper which extends to when he indignantly denied Taiyo s permission to attend a musical extravaganza in Mombasa. Also, his scathing remarks would make Resian uncomfortable and uneasy when around her father. Furthermore, he hits Resian when she confronts him in his office.
Kaelo wants to be seen as a man with power especially in his house. It is one of the reasons as to why he asserts power by harassing his family. Although mama Milanoi considers him as a good man, “over the years he had scolded and bullied her like a half-witted child.” (pg29)
When Kaelo speaks, he expects to be heard and not countered especially by a woman. It is no wonder mama Milanoi is afraid of him. When he tells her to prepare the girls for the now inevitable circumcision, although she is opposed to it she does not speak her mind. (pg61)
EDWARD OLOISUDORI LOONKIYA
Oloisudori is a self made millionaire who comes to the rescue of Ole Kaelo when the latter is dismissed from his place of employment. Being a man of influence, Oloisudori promises Ole Kaelo instant wealth and fame. True to his word, Oloisudori awards Kaelo enough money to build a nice house and a shop in
Nasila. Furthermore, Oloisudori promises Kaelo lucrative government tenders from different government institutions in Nasila. This way Kaelo has a headstart in his business overtures in his hometown. Such deals will bring him money that will earn Kaelo respect in the society.
Kaelo never believed that Oloisudori was baiting him. He thought the great Lonkiya meant well for his clansman. Although he had been warned by his friend and mentor Ole Supeyo, Kaelo thought that such men were jealous of his achievements. However, it did not take long before Oloisudori came for his pound of flesh.
Having put Kaelo in his debt, Oloisudori asks for the permission to be let to marry Kaelo’s youngest daughter Resian. Both Kaelo and his wife Mama Milanoi had never anticipated for this. Even Oloisudori had not planned to ask for a wife. He had only come to extort from Kaelo like he did with those who were indebted to him when he met Resian.
Although Kaelo could have openly refused Oloisudori’s offer, he is afraid of what the man could do to him. He therefore accepts the man’s offer.
By accepting to let his daughter get married to Oloisudori. Kaelo sets in motion the conflict within the book. Oloisudori like Ole Musanka wants the girl circumcised before her betrothal. However, after frantic negotiations, it is agreed that the cut would be done in her matrimonial home.
As the book progresses there is building tension in Kaelo’s house as the man tries to find the best way to break the news to his daughter Resian. On the other hand, the girls suspect that something austere is taking place especially when Oloisudori comes to pay the bride price and gives them lavish gifts.
The girls therefore plan to retaliate behind their parents backs. Their plan goes flawlessly well but when Resian learns that her father had already taken bride price from Oloisudori, she is beside herself with anger.
As fate could have it, she successfully escapes Oloisudori. However, she leaves her sister behind. Taiyo too suffers immeasurably in the hands of her parents and Oloisudori. She is lured by her mother into forced initiation. After her circumcision, she is rescued by Minik ene Nkoitoi’s men. The two sisters meet at Minik’s ranch where they have to confront Oloisudori for one last time before joining university.
Indeed Oloisudori plays out a pivotal role in driving the plot of the book. In doing so, he reveals the following traits:
MAJOR STYLES AND STYLISTIC DEVICES IN BLOSSOMS OF THE SAVANNAH
Figurative language uses figures of speech such as similes and metaphor to evoke emotions in the reader and write a more impactful and appealing work of art. H.R Kulet employs these styles heavily, firstly to create likeable protagonists e.g. Resian, Taiyo and Minik and unlikable antagonists e.g. Oloisudori, Olarinkoi and Ole Kaelo. Building such characters make us appreciate their endeavours to fight against negative aspects of Nasilian Culture and want them to succeed. In so doing we now start realizing how cruel FGM and other cultures are and therefore support the existence of Intoiye Nemengalana. In a nutshell, the styles motivate us to join in the fight against gender parity in our society. The following are figurative styles used in Blossoms of the Savannah
Imagery involves the use of language to create mental images. Most often, imagery makes use of carefully chosen words to create images of ideas in our minds. In Blossoms of the savannah, H.R Kulet uses imagery in the following instances.
(pg1) “Across the roads that crisscrossed the town, diminutive figures of men and women hurried briskly to their places of work. Uniformed school children, rucksacks on their backs, jostled boisterously…”
(pg3) “… the lanky dark-haired, blunt-faced young man whose big languid eyes…” (pg59) “He lazily turned in his bed, opened his eyes and yawned: a mighty master’s yawn.”
(Pg96) “…his huge, slanting eyes probing her, stripping her naked, assessing her, shaming her and judging her.”
(pg123) “She gyrated her hips seductively. And as she did so, mischief was written all over her pretty face, eyes downcast in modesty that was so false as to be a challenge to him.”
(pg141) “He brought his right fist in a powerful blow, lifting himself to his toes and putting the strength from his legs,…”
(pg176-177) “ They were driven slowly to the front of the house, with their amber parking lights flickering in unison. … the blue pin-stripped designer business suit; the golden watch that dangled from his hand…”
(pg255) “She was exceptionally tall woman with slight built. Her shoulders and back were straight……..”
The above are examples of how Kulet has used imagery to build a compelling story. The vivid imagery builds the tension in the story and also help us discern the events and the characters as the story unfold before us as if we are watching it on a TV or a stage like a performance.
A simile is an example of comparison imagery. It is easily identified because of the words like or as. Many authors and orators enjoy using similes because of their ease with which they can explain a complex situation. For instance, it is difficult to explain the beauty of someone unless you compare that beauty to a well-known beautiful thing like the Mona Lisa or the setting sun. In Blossoms of the Savannah, H. R Kulet uses the following similes to help us grasp some of the difficult scenarios.
Now like a baby who must be born at the fullness of time, this had come to pass.(pg7)” Refers to Kaelo’s loss of job as something as inevitable as giving birth.
“….to haunt her like demented spirits of a past that…” pg8. Through the simile, it ushers in the life the Kaelo’s were moving to after Nakuru . Mama Milanoi know that, the ‘empty words’ of the villagers were now coming to pass and she dreaded the future.
“..likened him to a mono-eyed giant who stood on legs of straw.” (Pg 13)
“Like cattle that required to be dehorned….” Pg 26 “reputation that would rival that of a randy he goat.” Pg27 “… was still hanging in the air like the sword of democles.”
“…like a halfwitted child…” pg30 “And like a magician, Ole kaelo stood…”
“… like the two chambers of his heart….” Pg43 “… like ducks upon water.” Pg45 “… like a piece of ironsheet…” pg50 “… like the sound of waves…” pg51 “… like a physically oppressive force.”
“… like the legendary dilemma…” (pg 64) “… like an overfed lizard…”
(pg75)“… like a leopard would while stealthly…”
“… like ilmintilis being roasted in fire.”; (pg108) “… like toying with live electrified wire.” (Pg109) “… like a stinking rotten carcass.” (Pg113) “… like a woman in labour.” (pg115) “like a bushfire during a drought” Pg116 “as fast as their legs could carry them.” “like the waters of Nasila and all the rivers of Maa.” Pg119 “like an animal that was unable to free itself from a snare.” Pg121 “like ominous black clouds.”
(pg138) “…. Like the proverbial ostrich…” (Pg141) “….like a ghost.”
(pg145)“… like the proverbial greedy hyena…” (pg146) “… like a dark cloud…”
: (pg156) “ …. Mad like a buffalo that had been infected…” (pg156) “… groaned loudly like one in pain…” (pg157) “… like the oluorrur tree under a turbulent gale.” (pg163-4) “Like chicks that tucked their heads….”
(pg171) “…. Like a monster….”
(pg185 ) Resian’s beauty is compared to that of a legendary beautiful Maa woman, (pg 186) “She was also like the famous English lady….” (191) “.. like morning fog.” (pg192) “… like an antelope…” “…like a spider did with a fly…” (pg194) “like water that churned…” (pg208)” … like one hit by a bolt of lightning.” (pg209) “… like one possessed with demented spirits.” (pg210) “… cracked like a whip.”
(pg215) like a sow that had been rolling….” (pg219) “And like a matchstick that kindled….” (pg221) “…flesh like a ferocious animal..” “…fiercely like a lioness.” (pg222) “…like a remote recollection of a distant past…” (pg223) “ like the image of a charging elephant.” (pg228) “… growled like an irate bull…” (pg230) “…like a proverbial pig…”
(pg236) “…stack ivory….like firewood.” “…Rhino horns… thrown into a heap like tree stumps….” (pg243)“… like a physical force….” (pg245) “… like a ferocious leopard…” “…like a snake…” (pg246) “…scooped her like a little baby…” (pg249) “…like embarie the coward fox…” (pg252) “… as if from a geyser.”
(pg259) “… aura like that of her principal in…”
(pg268) “… homestead like a hawk.” (pg271) “..like men fleeing from a burning village…”
Metaphors are harder to identify than similes. Like similes they compare a characters attribute with an existing concrete thing. The resemblance however is taken over by the concrete idea for instance a harsh father may be called a lion. This style in fiction help reveal the character traits of characters and at the same time add colour to the work of art. Examples in Blossoms of the Savannah are:
∙ “Melting pot that Nakuru had become.” Pg8
∙ pg26 “… a hyena in your homestead.” … it was a tsunami that did not discriminate.” (Pg117) “Nasila had been there as far back as the people could remember……” The paragraph uses the river as a metaphor of the Maa culture which now had been polluted by new cultures, some good and others bad.
∙ (pg118) Resian …… was a hard nut to crack.” In reference to Resian incorrigible stand. (pg119) “…the way a bull would do to expel…” to show the helpless anger in Kaelo : (pg144) “… teeming with wolves, hyenas and crazy vagabonds.” (pg170) “… the way a tortoise withdraws into his shell.”
∙ (pg174) “… a newborn mongrel….” (pg176) Resian compared her father to a major Domo(pg188) “ He reclined on his so far and let…” (pg219) “Was Olarinkoi a beast…” (pg227) “… resembled that of the legendary enenaunerr…” (pg267) Minik was called a wasp by the people of Nasila.
∙ (pg 269) “ bitter bile sizzled inside her and he acid burned her heart-searing it the way fire would sear dry bushes.” -to show how painful the situation had made Minik. (pg271) “…shot past the range of their missiles.”
In personification, inanimate objects and abstract forms take up life and become realistic making sense to the mind and sometimes evoking laughter and a sense of realism.
∙ … mind roaming the distant past…
∙ (pg63) FGM is said to be “rearing its ugly head.” To show its monstrosity.
∙ (pg129) “The only thing that stood between them was archaic Nasila culture. Culture is an abstract idea, not a physical thing. Also (pg 134)
∙ (pg243) the moon is said to be sad.
∙ This is exaggeration imagery. When we use hyperbole, we want to emphasise a certain quality or aspect of storytelling.
∙ (pg203) “happiest lady in the whole of East Africa.”
∙ (pg231) “… sucked your veins dry…”
∙ (pg247) “…. A trail of fire down her stomach..”
∙ (pg258) “…. Seas of tawny woolly animals flowing…”
∙ Idioms are figurative expressions whose meaning is not exactly brought out by the word phrases. For example when we say ‘break a leg’ we don’t literally mean one should break their own leg but good luck, enjoy or have fun. Here are further examples from Blossoms of the Savannah. Try to see whether you can get the meaning.
∙ (Pg1110) “…chicken had come home to roost.” “… demanding his pound of flesh.” (pg111) “…pulling my leg” “…apple of his eye.” (pg112) “… sacrificial lamb.” (pg116) “…hell broke loose.” (pg128)“… the dustbin of history…” (pg135) “….seventh heaven…”
∙ “… buried his head in the sand…”
∙ (pg147) “… nipped in the bud….” (pg158) “…the die was cast.” (pg159) “whipping boys.” (pg166)“….hit the roof with indignation.”(pg167) “… stem the tide…” (pg168) “… lull before a turbulent storm.”
∙ (pg187) “… added feather to his cap.” (pg195) “… draw the rug from beneath his feet,” (pg200) “.. to develop cold feet..”
∙ (pg219) “from frying pan to the fire”, “a flicker of hope…”
∙ (pg228) “…with a silver spoon.” “….some bitter bile rose…
∙ (pg233) “….dipping his dirty finger into the porridge..” “…music to Resian’s ears!” ∙ (pg250) “…hit a wall.”
This is sound imagery. Onomatopoeic words imitate the sound made by objects or things. Here are some examples.
(pg15) “Chicken clucked and scratched in the cool shade underneath.” Portrays the busy early mornings where everyone was engaged with the music of different chores performed.
(pg243) howls of hyena, groaning of wild dogs, chirrup of crickets and cicadas.
Allusion is the borrowing of content from other authors/writers of creators. It is like a metaphor but instead of calling an abstract idea, a physical thing; allusion tends to compare a situation with another well-known masterpiece be it a poem, or a section from another creation.
In Blossoms of the Savannah, there are well-known examples of allusion. H.R Kulet tends to use this allusion in order to bring hope to the characters or help relieve tension among other uses.
There are various kinds of allusion used in the text. The following are examples: Biblical Allusion
– (pg230)Jobs story
– (pg242) Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane.
– (pg357 )1st Cor 12:13 ‘Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror, The we shall see face to face! Now I know in part, then I shall know fully.
Situational Allusion/Historical Allusion
-(pg186) the story of Lord Egerton lover.
(pg194) mention of Goldenberg and AngloLeasing-major corruption scandals in Kenya.
-(pg231) Famous quote: “ What pained one most was not the injustices carried out against one by one’s adversaries, but the silence of those who called themselves his or her friends at the time the injustice was being carried out.”
-pg251) “…find her nirvana..” (pg257)
Songs are a common feature in African storytelling. In as much as they build on the plot development, songs also contribute towards authenticating the story and telling us more about the story’s origin. Furthermore, songs reveal a lot about the character or characters while adding flavour to storytelling.
In the novel, Kulet has used a number of songs. Some are new creations while others have been handed down from generation to generation in the Maa Community. The songs in Blossoms of the Savannah, besides the functions we have said above, also invoke strong emotions while preaching optimism, especially to the intoiye nemangalana. A song like the one Taiyo composes, falls in the category of heroic songs that praise the bravery of certain members of the society like Minik ene Nkoitoi the emakererei. The song ‘Blossoms of the Savannah’ also pans out as a modern initiation song that encourages initiation
into intoiye Nemangalana while demystifying the myth that true women were the ones who had been circumcised.
These are songs used in the book:
Song (pg42-43) In this song, Kaelo is welcomed home and initiated into the tribe. The song is a praise song sung by children to welcome morans back home from herding. The song reveals the socio economic activities of Kaelo’s people and how a brave Moran is initiated back to community after successful herding.
Song (pg154) It is a song Taiyo composed for Minik- her idol. In the song, Taiyo praises the bravery of Minik and compares her to a blind mice that was brave enough to chase a woman with a crooked knife.
Song: (pg186) The song is from Maasai mythology that praises the beauty of a woman.
Song (pg281) It is a song of victory, sung by girls who had been rescued from female circumcision. It is a song of pride in the new Maa culture that demonises FGM.
Just like any exceptional works of literature, H.R Kulet employed various literary styles including African oral narration. ‘Blossoms of the Savannah’ is equipped with several of these works.
To begin with, the writer extensively uses oral narratives to explore the traditional origin of the Maa people and their cultural rights. Parmuat uses an aetiological narrative to explain the origin of Female Circumcision. The story is also mixed in with the legend of Olarinkoi. Also, Oloisudori uses the legend of Lord Ngata and the Lord’s misery in trying to please the girl of his dreams to right the history. Oloisudori believes that Lord Ngata did little for his princess and that he (Oloisudori) would make sure that the girl of his dreams (Resian) falls in love with his affluence. Furthermore, Oloisudori compares the beauty of Resian to the beauty of a legendary Maasai beauty from Mosiro.
MAJOR THEMES IN BLOSSOMS OF THE SAVANNAH
Tradition is people’s beliefs and practices which in this case has been passed on from one generation to another. In the book, the author explores the tradition of the Maa people. Using the Nasilian community, the book looks at the socio-economic and political set-up of the Maasai people.
The Maa people, in this case, the people of Nasila, have several traditional practices. To begin with, they threaded female genital mutilation is the heart of the story. When Kaelo’s family relocates to the village, Mama Milanoi fears for her daughters (pg8). As it seems urbanisation had shielded them from the fearful mutilation. Another practice is polygamy. Kaelo seem contended with his lean family and wife but his brother Simiren bathes in the glory of four wives and more than sixteen children (pg16). Curiously enough the author does not give the definite number of Simiren’s children. I should point out that, in many African traditions, children are not counted. In most cases, an average number is given. Or maybe it is just the author’s way of writing.
Besides the two, the Nasila people practiced communalism. The beauty of communalism or what I may call community socialism is that it promoted selflessness (pg149). The key lessons Kaelo’s daughter’s learnt were being mindful of others and respect for the elders. These virtues among others made Resian and Taiyo come to love Nasila and appreciate several aspect of Nasila tradition their parents had not taught them. Resian found out that in the presence of such uniformity of love and lack of preference she could relate well with society and perform her duties without her father’s reprimand. In fact Kaelo’s daughter had the best of times at their uncle’s home than when at their lovely mansion up the hill.
Furthermore, Nasila tradition had a way of maintaining itself through the informal traditional education called Olkuak (pg150). Olkuak ensured that the cultural practices were passed on to the next generation. It was the responsibility of the elderly to pass on the lessons to the young generations.
Also the people of Nasila were welcoming to any person who paid them a visit. “it was not unusual thing to get up in the morning to find the living room full of men and women who came that early, not for any tangible business, but simply to share sumptuous breakfast with their kith and kin.”(pg35) At first, it was unsettling for the girls but soon they came to acknowledge this as was of Nasila’s custom.
There were also aspects of Nasila tradition that had ceased to exist. When Oluisudori asks for permission to marry Resian, Mama Milanoi contemplates how things had changed (pg115). According to Mama Milanoi, tradition forbade a man marrying a daughter of his age mate. If a man was infatuated by such a girl, women would rally against men and only the persuasion of the elderly would appease women to allow their men back to the house. Meanwhile, the man who attempted such a thing was killed by the angry mob of women. Besides, Nasila people were overly protective of their girls. If male guests came to a homestead where girls were, they would wait outside until the girls had been taken away before getting into the house.
Another tradition that was thrown out was “emuata a horrible and disgusting cultural practice that demanded young brides to wear heavy copper wire tightly coiled around their limbs.” (pg263) The gruesome practice was discarded for its effects on girls and women. Minik hoped that FGM would go the same way.
QUESTION: Find any other examples of tradition in the book and share them with us.
Affluence means extreme wealth. After Parsimei’s retrenchment, he returns to his homeland with delusions of grandeur. In order to secure his future, he enters into business dealings with Oluisudori Loonkiya.
Oluisudori is a man of means and he displays this to Parsimei by helping him secure lump sum loans and lucrative deals from the government institutions in Nasila. Having been a modest employee, Parsimei was leaving large on his wages. However, with someone like Oluisudori, he sees his dreams of making it large in the society come true.
As it seems, Kaelo is surrounded by very powerful individuals. One of them is Oluisudori and the other is Ole Supeyo. Supeyo made a lot of his wealth in selling his cattle. It was Kaelo who helped him greatly by
counting the money the man brought home from the sale of his animals (pg21.) It was from this honest brow that Supeyo blossomed into one of the most powerful men in Nasila. Another successful individual was Oluisudori. From what we can gather in the book (pg25 and pg100) Oluisudori was a gangster and a well-known extortionist. According to Enkoboini, he was also a poacher (pg236)
Surrounded by such men of means, Parsimei strives to emulate his betters. Therefore, he enters into a deal with Oluisudori. Although Oluisudori is a man of his word, his mannerisms and conduct are questionable. His motto is; ‘I scratch your back you scratch mine.” When he finds out that Parsimei has two gorgeous daughters, he hatches his plan to extort from him. Parsimei unwilling to let go of his business contracts and the smell of quick wealth, Parsimei puts his daughters in a rather difficult situation. Resian and Taiyo are compelled to make a choice between their beliefs and early marriage.
The lure of affluence, especially when Oluisudori invited Parsimei and his wife to visit his homes, makes Parsimei insanely greedy that his principal and moral standing are compromised. In fact, his love for Taiyo is quickly replaced by the want into the rich cult that he lets her undergo a forceful FGM in preparation for nuptials with Oluisudori.
3. Female Genital Mutilation
Female Genital Mutilation is one of the traditions that has received a lot of criticism because of its impact on the psychological and physical well being of the girl child. Despite the heavy campaigns against it, the vice has continued to thrive among certain communities in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. As a practice, the vice is carried under cultural or religious viewpoint. In this avenue, some anthropologists condemn those against the vice for cultural infringement. However, Scientifically, there are no known benefits accrued from the practice.
In practice, female circumcision takes different forms. Firstly, there is clitoridectomy which involves the partial or complete removal of the clitoris. Secondly, some communities practice, excision which takes out both the clitoris and the labia minora (vaginal edge). And finally, there is infibulation where the entire vaginal orifice (opening) is closed either by stitching or holding the cut areas together until when the wound is healed. In infibulation, two openings are left for urinal activity and menses.
Although the book does not explain exactly what practice the Nasila people did, it is clear that the either practised clitoridectomy or excision because of the olmurunya. The practice is highly valued by the people of Nasila that those who do not undergo the ritual are derogatorily referred to as Intoiye nemengalana (A girl who has not been cut.) Men shun away from such women and they are viewed contemptuously (pg19, pg46 and pg137.)
In order to be fully ingratiated into Nasila Culture, Parsimei is told to ensure that the girls are initiated (pg52). This ritual is so important that Mama Milanoi’s request to be assisted against Oluisudori is denied (pg145.)
Oluisudori also demands that the Resian should be cut be she is married to him. However, after a lengthy discussion, they decide that cut will be performed in Nakuru. When Resian escapes, however, Kaelo takes over the responsibility of circumcising Taiyo (pg273).
According to Parmuat (pg87) and Minik (pg263) FGM was a tradition which had been introduced to curtail the lascivious Ilarinkoi. Women being powerless against the charm and provocative nature of Ilarinkoi decided to mutilate themselves as a form of resistance. However, as Resian and Minik observe the practice had outlived its utility and was now practised as a form of male subjugation against women. Nevertheless, Parmuat observes that the practice in so far is for the benefit of men, it is still women who wield the olmurunya (knife.)
Education is the passing of knowledge from one individual to another. By this definition, education can either be formal or informal. In the novel, there is both formal and informal education.
Parsimei Ole Kaelo struggles with the rat race and manages to educate his two daughters to O’ levels. The daughters seem to hunger for further education and that is why Resian asks his sister Taiyo to request for permission to join the university (pg4).
As they move to Nasila, Resian and Taiyo hope that it will be a temporary shift as they prepare for the appropriate time to ask for the chance to go back to Nakuru and pursue their dreams. In Nasila, they meet educated and forward-thinking people like Parmuat and their Yeiyo Kiti. Parmuat is a teacher at a local primary school.
Despite their open mind, Parmuat and Yeiyo kiti are at home with Nasilian culture. Resian and Taiyo, on the other hand, find it hard to fathom hardline Nasilian stand on FGM and early marriage. In order to ingratiate the girls deeply into the Nasilian tradition, Taiyo’s father requests Parmuat to teach the girls about their own culture.
Parmuat walks the girls into Nasilian culture from the tyrannical rule of Ilarinkoi to why women undergo FGM and the different kinds of love among the Maasai. Furthermore, Parmuat teaches Taiyo song and dances. Parmuat’s lessons rely heavily on the word of mouth passed on from one generation to another. His keen and agile mind seems well versed with his traditions notwithstanding the western education he had received. In fact, he is ready to forsake Taiyo’s love for she is technically his sister although they are not related and also an Intoiye Nemengalana (uncircumcised girl.)
The Maasai informal education is called Olkuak (pg150) which was the way of life and the beliefs of the people. Taiyo and Resian learn from Yeiyo Kiti that although more Maasai’s were taking their daughters to school, they were afraid of the influence of this new education system on their cultural fabric. Initially, many educated Maasai’s emigrated to the urban centres, however, Yeiyo Kiti (pg151)had observed a new trend where this urbaners were returning back to the villages. Yeiyo kiti hoped that this urbanized Maasai’s would be the pivotal points of change.
Meanwhile, with the help of the university educated Minik ene Nkoitoi, Taiyo and Resian join Egerton University to further their educational career.
5. Gender Inequality and the Place of a Woman in Society
Nasila is a male-dominated society. Kaelo marries the daughter of Nasila and is happy on how she has behaved in the over 20 years of matrimony. Mama Milanoi had remained loyal and submissive to her husband. When Kaelo is laid off from Agribix, she is worried about how life will be but when he reassures her, she believes him. In fact, she does not even as where the money for starting the business came from until Oloisudori (pg94) introduces himself to the family. She had never heard the name before.
Although her daughters confide in her about their dream to join campus (pg147), she does not find the courage to talk to her husband about it. She participates in Resian’s marriage plans without opposing to what she felt like a violation of her daughter’s rights(pg197.) By and by she stands by her husband’s word and follows his lead even when both her daughters fall into Oluisudori’s trap. Instead of alerting her daughters of the impending danger, she leads them blindly into their downfall (pg272.) First, it is Resian and secondly Taiyo who she reassures that everything will be okay.
In Nasila women are like property. When Taiyo and Resian report to their father about the near-rape incident, the father (chapter12) takes it as a personal insult and begins to seek revenge and not justice for the girls. Though the girls were the ones offended, their say is not significant to the case. They are really offended when they come to learn of the council of elders’ verdict(pg162.) Secondly, on the issue of marriage Resian is not consulted. Everything is planned without her knowledge and what is expected of her is consent without question (pg203.) Oluisudori on his part builds a house even without the knowledge of the wife’s consent on how the house should look like (190.)
When Yeiyo botor pays Parsimei’s family a visit, she comments on how good the girls were in the kitchen (pg76-77.) Although Taiyo finds it amusing, Resian is incensed by the perception that women’s position is in the kitchen. Resian’s resilience against the status quo has a name among the Maasai Olkuenyi. Yeiyo botor says it is only FGM that can remove Olkuenyi from a woman.
It is not only Resian who is trying to wrestle inequality in Nasila. Minik ene Nkoitoi is at the helm of not only rescuing girls from FGM and early marriage but also ensuring that they learn to be independent and equal opinion makers in the society. Having graduated from Makerere University, Minik runs one of the largest ranches in the region. Furthermore, she is fearless and therefore confronts Oluisudori unflinchingly. It seems FGM did not remove her olkuenyi after all.
6. Patriarchy/ Male Chauvinism
Male chauvinism otherwise known as patriarchy has a long history. There are various schools of thought on where patriarchy came from. Firstly, theorists believed that patriarchy was born with Adam. Being the first man on earth, Adam, after the fall of man was given the power by God to rule over the woman. This is a type of patriarchy that Bob Thomas Pierik in his MA Thesis refers to as Traditional Patriarchy. According to the paper, patriarchy was mostly used to refer to the authority of the father over the household and its members. However, it would be Max Weber who would use patriarchy and patrimonialism to refer to domination beyond household to political territories hence introducing modern patriarchy. Another applied usage of patriarchy outside the family set up would be brought forth by Robert Filmer. In Filmer’s view, kings had divine power to rule over a kingdom without the consent of the people. Drawing from Adamic lineage, Firmer observed that Adam was the first King and so men with power and influence had the prerogative of inheriting leadership.
In as much as patriarchy was confined within the family set up, it blossomed into one humongous force taking over the economic, social and political privileges until the rise of feminism. In her book ‘The Evolutionary Origins of Patriarchy,’ Barbara Smuts postulates six hypotheses to explain its rise. According to the book, male domination is a characteristic that is well developed in humans than in other animals especially primates. Various anthropologists observed that male coercion was predominant where females lack social support from relatives and friends. Also, in cases where females were subjected to controlling mates, their resistance reduced as observed when female olive baboons are released into an area controlled by the dominant fierce hamadryas males. Smuts walks us through the journey of male domination until when males became the key decision makers on literally everything including reproductive health and the concept of virginity.
In Blossoms of the Savannah, we explore traditional patriarchy. According to the book, Mama Milanoi passes out as the ideal wife; she knows and understands her position as a housewife. In fact, she nurtures her children into model wives! (pg77) There is also the expected order of things; this is observed in Simiren Ole Kaelo’s homestead. All wives are expected to respect and obey the first wife Yeiyo botor. She is the one in command of the homestead and every undertaking runs by her. Although this is done to bring a semblance of unity, it is playing deep into what the menfolk want.
In Nakuru, the daughters of Parsimei Ole Kaelo are nurtured into what may seem to be a gender-neutral society. Both Resian and Taiyo ooze a maturity about them and they seem to know what they want in Life. Taiyo is very confident and open-minded that she asks her father for permission to attend a music extravaganza in Mombasa. The father refused flatfooted. This was Taiyo’s initial encounter with patriarchy.
The refusal by Parsimei to let Taiyo go to Mombasa creates a sense of mistrust between the daughter and her beloved father. Therefore, when it is time to ask for permission to join the university, Taiyo becomes reluctant. Resian, on the other hand, has a keen sense of foresight and therefore avoids her father whenever possible. Maybe she sensed the chauvinism in her father.
In Nasila, the girls are introduced to stone hard chauvinism. To begin with, they are accosted by miscreants for being uncircumcised. Before long, the girls are nearly raped by the same vagabonds who had previously accosted them. To make matters worse, the issue is solved in the absence of the victims. In this regard, Resian and Taiyo felt the injustice did not meet the elder’s deliberations (pg167.)
Although Taiyo and Resian thought that the near rape incident was the furthest humiliation could go, they are yet to meet the storm of Nasila which is slowly gathering momentum. Resian smells a whiff of the storm and that is why she becomes insecure even in the presence of her family. Little did she know that her father had planned for her marriage to Oloisudori. When she learns about this, Resian is inconsolable (pg209.)
Oloisudori, on the other hand, displays a kind of wretched chauvinism. Having extensive wealth, he thinks he is magnetic and every girl would scramble to be his wife. Instead of courting Resian, he goes to extreme length to decorate her house (pg190) to be and shower her with expensive gifts (pg178.) In doing this, Oloisudori compared himself to Lord Ngata (Egerton) a man of considerable wealth who lived in Njoro and also, infatuated by a beautiful girl built a mansion to please her and convince her to be his wife (pg186.) Like Lord Ngata, Oloisudori was in for a rude shock, Resian refused him outrightly and in fact, she never got to see the beautiful mansion. Lucky for Lord Ngata, his girl looked at the grotesque monstrosity of a house and called it a pigsty.
Oloisudori and Lord Ngata had one weakness; they thought that girls were for sale to any outstanding man with considerable wealth. They outdid themselves in building what was the ideal home without giving room for a woman in order to know what she really wanted. Like all chauvinists, they thought they knew exactly what the women wanted. However, they are met by two open-minded women who turn them down in order to pursue their dreams. Nevertheless, Oloisudori did not give up on Resian, he followed her to Ntaare Naaju where he is met by Minik defiance and the brutality of the men working in the ranch.
Furthermore, Oloisudori thought as a man of influence everyone would fear and blindly follow him. He realises his mistake when Resian openly insults him and walks away from him. Being confident that she was being childish, he puts his second plan to kidnap the girl only to be beaten to the chase by Olarinkoi. He is also brutalized by Minik and his gang which sent him scampering for safety. Minik too had considerable influence.
Olarinkoi too displays masochism after rescuing Resian from the claws of Oloisudori. Firstly, she is left to ride on the bed of the pick up alone while Olarinkoi and his friend occupy the cabin. Whenever she falters on the journey she is insulted until they make it to Inkiito. Instead of welcoming Resian into his humble home, he orders her around to prepare dinner and walks away only to return and attempt to rape her. Resian puts up a spirited fight that leaves her for dead.
The men in the book have a lopsided way of displaying affection to the opposite gender. Though Kaelo was smitten by his wife Jane Milanoi, his way of showing affection was providing her with a comfortable home and food but not indulging her in decision making or opening for her opportunities to blossom. On the side of his daughter, he thought that the O’level education they had received was enough. When he realises how expansive Oloisudori’s estates were, he thought letting his daughter marry him would be the best a father could. In fact, he hopes that one of Oloisudori’s wealthy men will come for Taiyo.
On the other hand, Oloisudori thought that building expansive mansions for his wives was the most honourable thing to do. Being secluded in the well-secured mansions overlooking the scenic oceanic line was the splendour that would make them “the happiest women in the whole of East Africa.” He never thought that there were women whose desire was to achieve educational and career goals.