Inheritance By David Mulwa Notes Summary
Inheritance is a play that revolves around individuality and the perspective of development as seen by modern day ‘independent’ African states. In the play, particularly the prologue, we get to find that the King of Kutula wanted real independence for his people. However, the British were unwilling to work with such an open-minded individual. They were looking for a leader who will bend to the whims of the imperialists. The perfect candidate was the son of King Kutula known by the name Lacuna Kasoo.
CHARACTER AND CHARACTERIZATION IN THE PLAY INHERITANCE BY DAVID MULWA
Characters are the voice of the author in any works of art. In plays, they come alive and may take
different forms depending on the director of the play. In the play Inheritance, David Mulwa creates vivid
characters some of whom we may have encountered in real life. For instance, Lacuna Kasoo is a clear
mirror of our current Kenyan politicians. He is as greedy as he is detached from the problems facing his
people. As we explore characters we need to look at them as people who may have or do exist in real
life. A character like Judah Zen Meloh represents a confusion of sorts. The Judah we know in the Bible
betrayed Jesus while our Judah in the play does not want to betray his blood brother. Although, we
need to tell the difference between Judah and Judas. Talking about Judah, he was the son of Jacob in the
Old Testament of the Bible. He is the man who came up with the brilliant idea of selling Joseph
Our Judah, on the other hand is neither Judas nor Judah the brother of Joseph. He is the brother of
Romanus Bengo and the man who tries in vein to redeem his name after he refused Lacuna Kasoo’s
directive of eliminating the stubborn Romanus Bengo.
Other characters like Tamina, Malipoa and Chipande play mute to all the atrocities being committed in
Kutula as long as they get by. In plays, characters play different roles so as to bring out the playwright’s message. In the play
Inheritance, David Mulwa creates colonial and post-colonial characters who shape the direction of the
play and the ripples of their decisions are felt in the present day Kutula.
Bishop Menninger sets in motion neocolonialism by his plans to assassinate the arrogant King Kutula XV.
On the other hand, King Kutula plants a seed of hope in princess Sangoi which manifests itself when
princess Sangoi now reverend leads a bloodless revolution that ousts Lacuna Kasoo from power
effectively ending the colonial grasp over Kutula.
LULU ZEN MELO
She is the daughter of Tamina and Judah Zen Melo. Romanus Bengo, the activist is her uncle. Lulu has
two brothers both of whom are mentioned but do not play an active role in the play. However, they are
pivotal in bringing down Lacuna Kasoo’s leadership.
Lulu is an outstanding student at a local government institution. She has dreams of studying up to
university level and becoming a doctor. However, with recession in Kutula, her mother has no money for
her university entrance exam.
Lulu gets upset with the complacency of her mother especially when her future is in jeopardy. Her
mother’s piety disgusts her. She wants her mother to stop her religious myopism and protest against the
dictatorial leadership of Lacuna Kasoo. Nevertheless, it is not just religion that has created fear among
the people, Lulu’s mother included, but the fear for the repercussions like those meted on Lulu’s father.
Lulu displays a rather peculiar personality. On the one hand, she is a naive, innocent and easily trusting
girl. That is one of the reason she plays a pivotal role in the commemoration of King Kutula’s death. On
the other hand, she is a defiant follower of Romanus Bengo and a fearless critic of the gospel of
mindless obedience and fear. Her outspokenness and outgoing nature makes her mingle with Robert
Rollerston- a key investor in Kutula. Out of politeness, Lacuna does not get to spend the night with Lulu
as had been planned. Lacuna is incensed by Lulu’s behaviour but according to Malipoa, the ritual can be
performed at a later date.
She, however, stands for the voice of the oppressed young women who are put down by oppressive
leadership and backward traditional practices meant to prey on the weak and the vulnerable. Her
triumph after Lacuna’s fall is the win for women who have forever been yoked by a retogressive society.
Lulu is top of her class and an active participant in many of her school’s activities. She nurtures a dream
of becoming a doctor. This drives her to join the radicalized in her society. In her struggle she is displays
a not-giving-up attitude despite the financial constraints in the familyand the fluctuating Kutula
Lulu is rebels against religious and moral standards of her society. It is not really being rebellious but she
speaks defiantly against her mother’s religious and moral beliefs which she alludes to their current state.
Her scathing remarks against Bishop Menninger’s religion makes her earn stern discipline from her
mother. However, this does not stop her from speaking but marks a journey towards activism which
ends up with her interacting with Robert Rollerstone.
She is a free spirit a character that earns her a leading role in the commemoration ceremony. Her
vibrant soul makes her meet and spend the night with Robert Rollerstone. Although, she was supposed
to entertain Lacuna Kasoo, she more than engaged with a like-minded individual and young investor
One of the reasons as to why Lulu was chosen is because of her purity. I should point out that the word
Lulu is Swahili for Gold. Therefore, Lulu was as pure as gold. However, her naivete landed her in a hot
mess when she learned about the true intention of her being invited in the royal palace. Although, she
was driven by the desire to find someone who would finance her education, her vulnerability could be
hereditary own undoing.
Lulu is tired of pretending and demands action from her mother. She is insensitive to her parents
struggles against the biting poverty and demands that something should be done for her education. Her
painful stand makes her appear as a spoilt brat to her mother.
He is the son of the former King Kutula XVI. He becomes the first leader of the independent Kutula state.
As the head of state, Lacuna Kasoo uses his powers to intimidate the people and gain personal wealth as
he runs the economy of Kutula down.
Despite the skyrocketing inflation and donors withholding funding, Lacuna is oblivious of the suffering of
the masses. He continues to impose stricter rules on the people demanding more concessions on the
citizenry. In the silver mines, despite the rickety machines, he demands for more output. This leads to
the death of Judah Zen Melo. Around the state, there is massive land grabbing by state to satisfy
multinational conglomerate while displacing the poor commofolk.
As can be seen in the play, Lacuna leads his tribesmen and those loyal to him in grabbing state
resources. For instance, Lacuna controls the silver mines while Councillor Chipande has large tracts of
land in the village from which Lulu resides. Moreover, he rewards those loyal to him with lucrative jobs.
He also tortures and fires those who cannot do what has been asked of them.
However, towards the middle of the play, he changes tact. Firstly, he releasedpolitical prisoners
including Romanus Bengo. Secondly, he appoints Rev. Sangoi into senior position. Lastly, he reaches out
to elders from Bukelenge Basin in order to discuss evacuation plans. Nevertheless, Lacuna’s olive beach
was just a veil to get his way. But he was wrong this time. The elders were tired of being manipulated
and refused to convince the people to evacuate.
Lacuna represents the voice and puppet of the former colonial masters. Instead of serving his people, he
is much more interested in serving two industrialists who control his pocket money. When he fails to
pay the industrialists their loans, he realises how vulnerable his position is. Although, he tries to exercise
his sovereign power, it is too late because on both sides he has been rejected.
He also represents a class of political elites who believe in the inferiority of their own people. In this
regard , they outsource everything subjecting the masses to foreign exploitation. As can be seen in the
play, the silver mines and cash crop farming are encouraged over other basic production. In fact, the
evacuation from Bukelenge plains is meant for further foreign investment.
Lacuna Kasoo participates in the execution of his father in order to rise to power. While in power, he
uses his position and authority to enrich himself. According to Rollerstone, Lacuna has millions of
shillings in foreign accounts. Besides, the loans he takes do not go to economic development as seen in
the old machines used by miners in the silver mines. Most of the money is either used for his
entertainment or banked for him and his henchmen.
Lacuna finds pride in associating with internationally financiers whom he believes have his interests at
heart. He believes that since he conspired with former colonial masters to end his father, then they owe
him. However, when he fails to pay the loans, he realised that business does not have a human face.
Although he is advised by Chipande not to detain the foreigners, he ignores the plea. He also strongly
believes in his military despite the growing opposition in the country. That’s one of the reasons he is
removed from office.
His ignorance makes him believe Malipoa’s predictions and prophecies when the only thing needed was
to listen to his people.
Lacuna believes in the wise counsel of Malipoa especially on the matters concerning the leadership of
Kutula. He has the notion that he is the rightful heir to the throne of Kutula and that the popular opinion
does not count. He pretends to care for the development of his country yet he misuses the loans and
grants given by the foreigners to bring development. Lacuna believes that his father was a failure and
that he has done more for his country than his predecessor. He talks about free education and
healthcare when all that is needed is economic empowerment so that the people can afford education
and healthcare among other things. He believes that his subjects do not have intellectual know-how to
participate in the complex international trade.
Lacuna is described by Bishop menninger as “an ingenious greedy rascal that’s utterly devoid of human
feelings.... Nero and Caligula all rolled into one ambitious mould.”(pg15) In his desire to ascend to
power, he assassinated his own father. While in power he uses fear and intimidation to rule and control
his subjects. He rewards loyalists like Malipoa and Chipande and torture dissidents like Judah and his
brother Bengo. Judah had been asked to get rid of his activist brother but he politely refused. This
decision turned around Judah’s life from a successful civil servant to a poor man who would die
struggling to make ends meet. Activists like Bengo are jailbirds while loyalists continue to loot the
country’s coffers with the help of Lacuna himself.
Easy to manipulate/myopic/dependent
Menninger knew Lacuna so well. He is the one who prepared him for the role he would play later in life-
that of ending the life of his wife. The foreigners first used him to eliminate the humanitarian leader and
then continually used him to loot both the natural and agricultural resources through loans whose
interests were very high. Since Lacuna was not a visionary leader he easily fell for easy cash that lands
Kutula into inflation. Dependence on foreign aid becomes Lacuna’s major undoing since the people
rebel against him.
He is a young energetic foreign investor in Kutula. He plays the role of the bad cop, a business face that
has no time for petty conversations like his counterpart Daniel Goldstein.
Robert dislikes Lacuna because he believes that the old geezer has thrown Kutula into turmoil. In fact he
fearlessly blames Lacuna for the deplorable condition of the country. However, this should not be
construed as a sympathetic foreigner. He is just angry because Lacuna has severally failed to to service
the loans extended to the country of Kutula.
Meanwhile, the same Robert who could be construed as a sympathetic foreigner, has compelled Lacuna
government to allocate prime plots for foreign investment according to his terms. In this regard, he is
contributing to more suffering to those who will be evicted in Bukelenge for the said project.
Therefore, his interests in Kutula are purely business and has no interest with the ‘stupid’ locals who do
not know how to utilize the numerous local resource for development.
Nevertheless, Robert saves Lulu from imminent sacrificial ritual organized by Malipoa in the palace. Lulu
was supposed to spend the night with Lacuna according to ‘traditions’ after the celebrations to
celebrate the death of King Kutula XV. However, that night the oblivious Lulu spent the night
He does not babysit Lacuna Kasoo as Daniel does. He is gruff and bold as he reads out the terms of the
loans extended to Kutula and the results for the loans. His official manner makes Lacuna despise him. He
readily threatens to take all the money Lacuna and his henchmen have stashed in foreign accounts.
Robert is young and ambitious. His youth drives him into taking bigger risks to expand company
operations in Kutula despite the marauding corruption. However, this time round he does want to
finance the agricultural projects with company oversight and leave Lacuna’s government out of it.
When Robert meets the young Lulu, they instantly hit it off and becomes friends. He keen sense of
listening makes him gain insights into operations in Kutula and that is why he does not want to pamper
Lacuna any further.
Robert knew very well the operations in Kutula and how the leadership misappropriated state
resources. For this reason he hated them and did not want to play any games with them. He also shows
concern for the local people and that’s why he wants to invest in them. However, he does not ask the
people what they should want since he believes that his company has all the answers for the ‘ignorant’
Romanus Bengo is the brother to Judah Zen Melo and uncle to Lulu and her two brothers.
He is the leading civil rights activist in Kutula having escaped death when his brother Judah refused to
finish him as had been ordered by Lacuna Kasoo.
According to Tamina, Judah had cursed Judah since it is Judah’s activism that had made them lose their
jobs, cars and lands and were now living in abject poverty. Tamina does seem to blame Romanus for the
situation in her household.
However, Romanus is adamant. He believes that the only way out of Kutula’s situation is to speak
against Lacuna’s excesses despite the apparent challenges. Lulu shares her uncle’ssentiments and so
does her brother’s who join him in the revolution that ousts Lacuna Kasoo from power. Therefore,
Romanus becomes the voice of reason and hope in the play.
He displays a calm demeanour even in times when he is incarcerated. He shows patience because he
knows fully well that he is dealing with people confronted by teachings of submission and respect for
those in authority and the poor. He does not give up in his fight even when imprisoned.
Judah made sure that Bengo obtained the best education in Kutula. It is this education that exposed
Bengo to the suffering of his people and made him decide to fight for the rights of the people. Despite
the prosecution of rights activists, Bengo displayed courage knowing fully well the risks to which he
Bengo is hopeful that he will overcome Lacuna’s reign of tyranny. He makes sure that he is reliable and
using his wit and charm attracts a huge following.
Bengo accommodates everyone and does not take it to heart when his brother curses him. He also
understands why Tamina hates and despises him.
TAMINA ZEN MELO
Tamina is the wide of Judah Zen Melo. She has three children with him among them Lulu. Currently,
Tamina lives in poverty. She is pained by the fact that she has been compelled to live a miserable life
because of her stubborn brother-in-law.
Instead of Tamina blaming her situation on Lacuna’s situation, she blames it on her brother-in-law. She
is among the majority who believe in doing nothing even when the leadership is blatantly corrupt and
unreasonable. She believes that Lacuna was annointed by God and only God shall remove him from
office. She is patient as she is prayerful.
Nevertheless, towards the end, she joined the protesting bandwagon that yanks Lacuna from office. This
happens late for she had previously lost her husband.
Daniel Goldstein is a company man. Together with Robert Rollerstone, they represent neo-colonial
interests in Kutula. Goldstein is a wide old man who knows how to manipulate Lacuna Kasoo. He is the
man looks towards as a friend and a confidant.
He builds such trust in Lacuna which makes Lacuna feel comfortable to work with him. However, once
he has put Lacuna into his grasp, he brings in Robert to finish what Goldstein had started.
The withdrawal of Goldstein is very tactical since he shows that there is nothing he can do to help.
Goldstein claims that business has no human face.
Goldstein’s mannerisms and conduct are the very core of how the situation is in Kutula. He is unlike his
counterpart Robert. He is ruthless and cunning. He uses polite talk and praise to uplift Lacuna then once
he has gotten an opportunity, he takes a business tone tearing down Lacuna. He knows very well that
Lacuna leads a bunch of greedy uneducated loyalists who do not understand investments, but he keeps
on extending loans which are grabbed and carted to foreign accounts.
Hiding on the principle of sovereignty, he choses not to pursue the matter of rampant corruption in
Kutula. However, when his business is threatened by the huge loans taken by Lacuna, he is ready to take
what readily belongs to him including emptying Lacuna’s foreign accounts.
He speaks calmly and wins Lacuna’s confidence. Thereafter, he walks Lacuna through the financial debt
the leadership owes him until he reduces Lacuna into a helpless beggar. When they started speaking,
Lacuna had the authority but towards the end of the conversation we realize that Lacuna is just a
puppet but power belongs to Daniel Goldstein. He knows exactly how to put Lacuna in his place despite
Goldstein averted Lacuna’s desire for power to greed for money. In this way, he knew Lacuna being lazy
and stupid, he won’t look for opportunities to create wealth but take the easy way out- borrow loans. At
the beginning he made sure that the loans appeared to have been a mutual consent between two
parties. However, he knew pretty well that the loans would be a noose around the people of Kutula
especially given the fact that the leadership was clueless. Have bagged Kutula’s resources, he takes a
liberal stand and throws in Robert Rollerstone- a fierce financier who makes Lacuna regret his decisions.
On the other hand, Daniel plays as helpless as Lacuna.
Daniel knew very well the insatiable greed Lacuna and his cabinet had, however, he continued to finance
Lacuna’s government. The huge debt coupled with inflation lands a majority of the people of Kutula into
abject poverty. However, Daniel’s company still has the audacity to proclaim further investment that
would evacuate the people from their homes in Bukelenge Valley.
Chipande is Lacuna’s trusted hand in running Kutula. He is a people pleaser and astute follower of
Lacuna. Together with Malipoa, they form a ring of trusted allies of Lacuna.
Using their positions and power, they enrich themselves by grabbing up lands and embezzling
government resources. Chipande is Lacuna Kasoo’s strongest ally. He is there to advice Lacuna Kasoo to
tread lightly infront of the two white people. As can be seen, he employs a modest and humble tone
with the westerners but is bossy around his countrymen. He believes in the colonial mindset of being
ruthless to keep the natives in tow.
As a land owner, Chipande pays his employees peanuts so as to keep them coming. He does not extend
credit facilities and that is why Tamina has no savings or nowhere to turn when Lulu asks for school fees
Together with Chipande, they are the closest and most trusted leaders who surround Lacuna Kasoo.
Malipoa plays as the traditional and religious advisor to Lacuna Kasoo just like Menninger was the
advisor to the colonial Governor Thorne Macay.
As a religious advisor, Malipoa ensures that he continues to incalculate religious rituals that raise Lacuna
to Devine status. In this regard, people of Kutula believe that the Lacuna was chosen by God and no one
can supplant him from the office. It is Malipoa traditional rituals that keep Lacuna in office for long.
Malipoa also demands certain privileges to be extended to the leader. An example is that the people
should offer a pure girl teenager to Lacuna as a piece of sacrifice to appease the ancestors and bless
Kutula. It is for this reason that Lulu had been chosen to entertain Lacuna Kasoo.
PRINCESS/ REVEREND SANGOI
She is Lacuna Kasoo’s half-sister. She has been adopted by the late King Kutula the XV because of her
intelligence and wit. Although she had come from poor background, the little girl was infatuated by the
white man’s religion and education.
King Kutula seeing this, he requested that Bishop Menninger should ensure that the girl obtained the
best of the white man’s education. However, Menninger had other plans for the girl-he wanted to make
her a good for nothing religious and philosophical fanatic who would have nothing to do with the
suffering of her people but fervently in search of the white man’s philosophies burried in books.
Menninger was wrong. It seems the King had seen something human in the little girl. For although the
girl grew to become a Reverend, she never forgot her people. In fact she used the bible to elevate the
suffering of her people and fight for the muffled freedoms.
This made her at loggerheads with her half-brother Lacuna Kasoo. Kasoo tries to buy her by appointing
her into office as councillor and representative of the people but she refuses to silence the voice of the
people. Instead she leads the opposition against Lacuna Kasoo and his foreign saboteurs.
JUDAH ZEN MELO
Judah is the father to three children, Lulu and her two brothers. He is the husband to Tamina. He is also
the brother to Romanus Bengo.
Judah is an obedient folower to Lacuna Kasoo. He rises above the ranks and becomes one of the most
powerful people in Kutula. However, Judah’s brother Romanus Bengo, refuses to tow the line. He
becomes a leading activist in Kutula. When Lacuna Kasoo asks Judah to deal with his brother Bengo.
Judah declines because he cannot shed the blood of his own brother.
Thereafter, Judah is attacked by a mysterious gang that leaves him for dead. When he recovers, thanks
to Reverend Sangoi’s husband. He finds out that he has lost favour with Lacuna Kasoo. For the rest of his
life he would work hard to please Lacuna to no avail until when he is killed at the mines.
KING KUTULA XV
King Kutula XV was the last post colonial leader in Kutula. He was the father to Lacuna Kasoo, who
succeeded him and Reverend Sangoi- an adopted child.
King Kutula appears in the prologue. He is one of the driving force behind the activism manifested in
Romanus and Sangoi.
Kutula’s wisdom and defiance drives the colonial authorities to device a means of eliminating him.
Kutula favours complete emancipation as opposed to political freedom when the economy of his people
is still in the tentacles of the super powers. His sentiments are shared by Sangoi, who when she released
the two foreign friends declared that Kutula was ready to do business with them at her own discretion.
GOVERNOR THORNE MACAY
He is the last colonial Governor of Kutula. He hopes to continue the exploitation of Kutula by foreign
force. However, he meets a defiant King Kutula.
According to conversation between Kutula and Macay, the Governor turns out to be illiterate to Kutula
customs and manner of speaking. He is also oblivious to the suffering of the people as he leads a lavish
lifestyle while the majority are languishing in abject poverty.
His inhumanity blinds him to the fact that the colonial authority is in fact milking the people dry instead
of creating an environment of development and prosperity. He is more interested in Kutula’s mineral
and natural resources as opposed to humanitarian interests.
He is a representative of colonialist religion. As it were, this religion was tailored to raise submissive
initiates who have little opposition to their own humiliation.
Seeing that King Kutula would jeopardize his plans, he hatches a plan to eliminate the king. He also plans
to also induct Sangoi into the field of academia such that she has no mind of her own or plans to liberate
her people from implanted ignorance.
His plans for King Kutula succeeds in driving the king to death and raising Lacuna into power. However,
instead of Sangoi being brainwashed, she comes out well educated in matter political freedom and
economic emancipation which she plans to use to bring an about turn in Kutula’s deplorable poverty.
THEMES IN INHERITANCE
Inheritance refers to what is left by the deceased to the family in material wealth or sometimes power.
However, the word could have diverse meanings when applied to works of literature. In this respect,
David Mulwa looks at inheritance in various ways.
The play revolves around a three decades old Kutula under its new leadership. Having achieved
independence from colonial masters, Kutula is now governed by Lacuna Kasoo-the son of pre-
independence King Kutula XV. Lacuna ascended to power after the death of his father. Although the King
has adopted Princess Sangoi as his successor, he dies mysteriously thus handing the power to the
greedy, self-centred Lacuna. As it were, Lacuna conspired with the colonial masters to assassinate his
father King Kutula XV.
Having assumed power with the help of colonial masters, Lacuna runs the government under the
influence of Kutula’s former imperialists. He receives hefty loans aimed at ‘developing’ the country.
However, the loans are meant to make Kutula a slave of foreign saboteurs led by Old Daniel Goldstein
and young Robert Rollestone. Even though Kutula boasts of being an independent state, there is a lot
that suggests that the country inherited the former colonial legacies. For instance, the Daniel Goldstein’s
company bankrolls Kutula. Without their loans and donations, Kutula’s economy is bound to collapse.
(Pg72) Secondly, when Goldstein points out how blatant misappropriations of funds were in Kutula, he
assumes power and even sits on Lacuna Kasoo’s throne just to show who exactly was in power in Kutula.
(Pg79) Therefore, Kutula was a sovereign nation under imperial powers.
One of the reasons King Kutula was assassinated was because he was tired of being treated as a slave by
colonial authorities. He wanted liberation on Kutula terms not the terms set by the imperialists. He had
demanded for total independence- a privilege the super powers were unwilling to extend. In order to
control Kutula and perhaps harvest humongous profits from her mineral wealth, the colonial Bishop
Menninger suggested the appointment of the greedy yet brainless Lacuna Kasoo. (Pg15) With Lacuna in
office the colonialists continued to enjoy the same privileges they had enjoyed during the colonial
period. On the other hand, the people of Kutula would suffer in poverty and bad governance as they had
during the reign of Thorne Macay- the colonial governor. However, the people believe that the
conditions were better of during the colonial period.
The play explores inheritance and its pains to the society. As it were, the people believed in the their
leaders, especially King Kutula. On the one hand, locals believed that King Kutula had blessed Princess
Sangoi- later Reverend Sangoi as the rightful heir to the throne. While on the other hand, the colonialist
hatched a plan to swear in the legitimate child- Lacuna Kasoo as the new leader. Therefore, the struggle
was between the rightful heir and the chosen one. In this case the rightful heir won but is thrown out of
office in a bloodless coup led by Romanus Bengo.
As can be seen, inheritance maintains the status quo but a fresh breathe of new leadership brings to the
table new ideas which can be optimistic for the people. In the play, Reverend Sangoi represents a fresh
new leadership that would agree to negotiations with foreign investors as opposed to dictation as seen
in Lacuna Kasoo’s regime where foreigners enjoyed while locals suffered in slavery and poor pay. The
new Kutula is open to quid pro quo kind of agreement as stated by Reverend Sangoi. (Pg35)
From the beginning of the play, we are introduced to abject poverty of the people of Kutula. It is one of
the reasons as to why Governor Thorne Macay- the colonial leader cannot agree with King Kutula XV. On
one hand, Thorne wants the King to silence the surging rebellion in the colony, while on the other, the
King is seen to side with the rebels.
According to the King, he cannot sit there and support what the white masters are doing. Riding on the
will of the people, he tells the governor that he has no control over the people but is ready to deliver the
people from suffering. This is the reason Thorne and Bishop Menninger conspire to eliminate the King in
Over three decades after independence, the people of Kutula are still poor. In independent Kutula, the
people are burdened by heavy taxation, huge international debt and wanton land-grabbing by their
leaders. Besides these, the leadership is embroiled in massive corruption, nepotism and favoritism. The
leader Lacuna Kasoo is as greedy as he is incompetent. However, he is supported by foreign saboteurs
who really control the goings on the the state. These foreigners finance forced evictions of people from
ancestral land for ‘development’ and also mining rights.
With the leaders at the mercy of the foreigners and the wanton greed in the leadership, poverty is the
order of the day. As can be seen in Tamina’s sparsely furnished grass-thatched house, families have little
to live for. Tamina can barely feed herself and her daughter. She cannot also afford her daughter’s
school fees and the never stopping need for money in the school. (Movement 1)
As can be seen, poverty is caused by various factors in Kutula chief among them being the leadership of
Lacuna Kasoo. As a leader, he has chosen a cabal of sycophants as councillors and his chief advisors.
These group of the elite have awarded themselves large chunks of land and hefty payments through
graft which have left Kutula bankrupt and the general population poor.
If the government has no funds, every citizen is overly taxed in order to raise funds. Besides, the
government may resort to austerity measures like firing older citizens from jobs in order to reduce the
wage bill. (Pg38) Judah Zen Melo speaks about how he has to keep with younger men in order to
maintain his job. As can also be seen, there are very little job opportunities in Kutula with a large pool of
Another cause of poverty in Kutula is government policy. Kutula’s policies are mostly geared towards
promoting the welfare of the foreigners. First of all the government deprives the people water by
building a white elephant dam. (Pg17) The dam made the entire valley dry. The second policy is
evacuation of people to create land for foreign investment. This is one factor that create a quiet
rebellion in Kutula.
After independence, many countries that were granted independence found themselves drawn towards
their former colonial masters. Such countries were drawn by incentives such as the Commonwealth,
foreign aid and the promise of assistance in economic development.
Those countries or leaders who refused such arrangements were either assassinated or removed from
power. In this respect, the colonialists found themselves coming back as expatriates and financiers for
In Kutula, the king who had vision for his people is assassinated. In his place, the colonial players put his
greedy son as the new leader democratically elected. In this way, the former powers made leadership
decisions for the people of Kutula even though the people’s favourite was princess Sangoi. Although the
power arrangement has changed from kingdom to a democracy. Lacuna Kasoo seem to retain the pre-
colonial title of king. Lacuna Kasoo is controlled by two international financiers: Robert Rollerstone and
Daniel Goldstein. Goldstein is as old as Lacuna but Robert is way younger.
On his part, Daniel plays the good cop. He appeases Lacuna while defiantly asking for more concessions
from the country. On his part, Lacuna needs more money to run the country. The colonialists knew how
greedy Lacuna was, and they planned to use Lacuna’s greed to profit from Kutula’s Silver mines and rich
Although the country has rich mineral resources and people are working tirelessly in the mines, the
country can’t sustainably pay for the loans. Goldstein still demands for more. Indeed, Lacuna’s greed
may have sent the mines to bankruptcy. However, if that was the case, then Goldstein would have
frozen aid long ago before things got out of hand. They continued supporting Lacuna because they
benefited from the mines and also from the loans they extended to the state.
Robert, on the other hand, is the bad cop. Using business voice, he threatens Lacuna to pay up the
building loan instalments as had been agreed upon. He goes even further to claim that he could access
Lacuna’s Foreign accounts and use the money to repay for the loans.
The foreigners show Lacuna that he could be running a sovereign nation but without money, he was just
useless and dependent on their mercy.
Many times when we talk about religion, we look at Christianity and other major religion in the world.
Although this religions play major roles in literature, there are still many other religions that writers and
playwrights also discuss in their works.
In this play, Christianity and Kutula traditional religion play a significant role. However, the role played
by these two religions is negative.
The play clearly brings out how religion can be applied subjectively to the people. During the colonial
era, Bishop Menninger made sure to preach about obedience and humility in order to make the people
of Kutula submissive. Besides, he used the sermons to get to know the people especially the young
generation. It is within his teachings that he came to learn that Lacuna Kasoo would make a fine leader
Menninger also observes that Princess Sangoi would be no bother since she was enamoured by the
foreign religion. According to the Bishop, Sangoi would be lost in the corridors of academia to worry
about leadership. He was wrong as can be seen in the play.
The teachings of humility and obedience seem to have stuck in Kutula even after independence.
Coupled with traditional teachings, they have reduced the people of Kutula into fearful sufferers
including the leaders. Although some like Romanus Bengo and Lulu are waking up to reality and
condemning this act of cowardice, the rest are still in the murk (pg30-47.) Lulu has woken up to
realisation that being godly does not mean being stupid and afraid and points it out to her mother. Her
mother Tamina, is afraid of those in power that the only person she can raise her voice to is her
daughter. She represents the voiceless who suffer under the laws meant to benefit those in power.
Traditional religion is propagated by Councillor Malipoa. Using his understanding of his traditional
religion, Malipoa propagates male chauvinistic ideologies which are meant to satisfy Lacuna Kasoo’s
insatiable lust for innocent girls. Malipoa postulates that in order for Lacuna to keep his position, he
needs to appease the gods by sacrificing a pure untainted girl in the former king’s chambers. This
tradition was meant to prey on unwitting parents and thus let the leader defile young women in the
name of tradition.
Activism is involves standing against what can be perceived as a social, political or economic ill in the
society. It takes different forms including enlightening the masses through publications, both fictional
and factual. It can also include civil disobedience through protests among other ways. In most occasions,
activism is a peaceful process whose main agenda is to bring about change in the perceived wrong.
However, some protests have turned violent leading to death and destruction of property e.g. the
Soweto massacre in South Africa. Nevertheless, such cases occur when those in power decline to give
protesters the needed freedom to express what they feel is wrong.
Other instances have seen those in authority arrest activists and put them behind bars for standing
against them. Many activists die in the hands of brutal police force and bad governance.
However, in Inheritance we come across arrests as can be seen in the case of Romanus Bengo. Bengo
could have been a victim of assassination had his brother Judah Zen Melo been a cold hearted
murderer. According to the play, Judah had been asked to take care of Romania Bengo but he declined.
Judah ended up losing his lucrative job in the government.(pg23)
Activism did not begin with Romanus in the play, it begun with the late King Kutula XV. The king refused
to betray his citizens in the prologue. Since he was such an exceptional king, he was poisoned by his own
Other Activists in the play are the Reverend Princess Sangoi and the young Lulu. Lulu seems to have
been converted into activism by his activist uncle Romanus Bengo. She speaks confidently against the
fear that has been instilled to the people by the government to the shock of her mother. (Pg30) Besides
Lulu, her two brothers and several elders too join in the resistance against Lacuna Kasoo’s regime.
In the play, the people are tired against colonialism and the grasp the former colonial masters have on
the New independent Kutula state. Furthermore, they are tired of the increased nepotism and plunder
of national resources by Lacuna and his clansmen and loyalists like Malipoa and Chipande. They are
crying for openness in governance and an end to colonial policies.
This is the act of pleasing those in authority in order to gain favours. After ascending to power, Lacuna
Kasoo made sure that he appointed people who were loyal to him and would do anything to please him.
Chief among the loyalists was Councillors Chipande and Malipoa. Malipoa invokes traditional teachings
and practices in order to ensure that Lacuna Kasoo was well respected and adored as the chosen leader
of the people. Even though Lacuna was unpopular because of his poor leadership, Malipoa ensured that
the leader was confident that he was well received by the ancestors and popular among his subjects.
On the other hand, Chipande was the liason between Kutula and his foreign friends. He knew all
Lacuna’s secrets including the foreign accounts. Both councillors are well rewarded for example
Chipande has a huge coffee farm in which Tamina works.
People who refused to show their loyalty was punished and denied jobs in Kutula. When Judah was
asked get rid of his activist brother, he refused to obey the Lacuna. Therefore, he was beaten and left for
the dead. Besides, his job was taken and he spent the rest of his life trying to win Lacuna’s favour.
The Bishop also observed the darkness in people’s hearts. In his interaction with the people of Kutula,
the Bishop observed that Lacuna Kasoo was “an ingenious greedy rascal that’s devoid of human
feelings.” (page15) In this respect, Lacuna was the perfect candidate to succeed his father King Kutula.
The King, Kutula, would meet his untimely death at the hands of his son. Beside Lacuna Kasoo, King
Kutula had adopted an intelligent girl Sangoi. The King brought Sangoi to the palace with the intention
that the girl would obtain western education in the hopes that she will become one of the pillars of her
society. But the bishop had other plans for her, he hoped that ‘the philosophical whelp will lose herself
in Western Libraries, looking for devine answers that have eluded even the experts.’(pg15) He was
wrong since Sangoi became the leader of the second liberation of her people.
With King Kutula gone and Lacuna Kasoo as president, neocolonial powers led by Daniel Goldstein and
young Robert Rollerstone would descend on Kutula- the young state and command the new leader to do
their bidding. The country descends into deplorable poverty with corruption and nepotism the order of
the day. The new leader Lacuna Kasoo punishes dissidents and rewards loyalists like Councillor Malipoa
In order to keep the people in check, the leader ensures that the entire extended family of dissidents is
punished and denied even gainful employment. A good example is what happens to Judah Zen Melo-
Romanus Bengo’s brother. Romanus Bengo is a well-known activist in Kutula, his brother Judah Zen
Melo, on the other hand, was a ‘Law-abiding’ civil servant who was ready to do anything for Lacuna
Kasoo except getting rid of Romanus Bengo. When Judah refused, ‘to pluck this thorn out and pledge,’
(pg23) his loyalty a new to Lacuna Kasoo, he was beaten and thrown out into the cold.
Judah who was once a successful civil servant with large pieces of land becomes a pauper. His family is
thrown in turmoil. In order to fend for his family, Judah travels allover Kutula leaving his family behind in
the hands of his wife Tamina. Tamina has to feed and provide education for their daughter Lulu. Lulu
harbours dreams of becoming a doctor like Reverend Sangoi’s husband. Nevertheless, the family’s
economic position stands in her way. Talented and determined to succeed, Lulu falls into the shackles of
Lacuna Kasoo as a sacrificial virgin during the commemoration of King Kutula’s death. Luckily for her, she
dances with Robert instead of dancing and entertaining the leader Lacuna Kasoo.
In order to appease the gods, Lulu is detained in the palace awaiting for the new moon for the rituals to
be performed again. However other events happen putting this event in jeopardy.
Judah and his family blame Bengo for their downfall except for their daughter Lulu who admires Bengo’s
efforts to fight for the downtrodden. As things are in Kutula, it is better for one to lick the leaders shoe
that live hand to mouth like the way Tamina lives. She is even unable to pay for her daughter’s school
When Romanus is released from prison, he learns that his brother had cursed him and he was
unwelcome in his brother’s house. His only choice is to join the revolution. Meanwhile, the people are
tired with the level of poverty in Kutula and they are turning against the government. In addition, having
squandered donor funds and stashed the rest of the loot in foreign banks, Lacuna is unable to service
loans. As he tries to silence dissidents on one hand, he is also struggling to appease Robert Rollerstone
and Daniel Goldstein- the international financiers. With no apparent exit, Lacuna corners the two
financiers and detains them in his palace. Meanwhile, Romanus has gathered enough support from the
people. The large numbers of protesters overpower Lacuna’s security and take over the palace. Lacuna
and his close associates are detained, Robert and Daniel are given safe passage to the airport and
Lacuna’s adopted sister Princess/Reverend Sangoi takes over leadership.
1. Thorne Macay: Governor of Kutula and representative of the King
2. Bishop Menninger: Servant to Thorne Macay
3. King Kutula XV: traditional ruler of Kutula
4. Princess Sangoi: King Kutula’s adopted daughter (later Reverend Sangoi)
5. Romanus Bengo: An Activist
6. Tamina Zen Melo Romanus’ sister-in-law
7. Lulu Zen Melo: Tamina’s daughter, a student
8. Judah Zen Melo: Tamina’s Husband and Brother to Bengo
9. Lacuna Kasoo: Present leader of Kutula Republic
10. Teacher: Miss Gerima, teacher/choreographer
11. Mama Melissa; Leader and Kasoo’s wife
12. Councillor Chipande: Kasoo’s political advisor
13. Councillor Malipoa: Kasoo’s traditional Advisor
14. Daniel Goldstein and Robert Rollerstone: international financiers
15. Elders (1,2,3) and The Woman: Opinion leaders of Bukelenge Valley
16. Attendant (I,II)- Palace staff
17. Woman leader I and II, Young Male leader, Elderly leader, young woman leader,
18. Palace staff
The prologue is set in the colonial Governor Thorne Macay’s office. Lavishly furnished with animal skins,
photos and a mural, the office espouses wealth and power of the governor. Nevertheless, the governor
does not seem happy because of the ongoing unrest within the colony. The Bishop Menninger pays him
a visit and offer advice on how to further contain the people of Kutula. Besides the Bishop, King Kutula-
native leader- visits and arrogantly states his terms: that his people are tired of Thorne Macay’s Natives
inhabiting their land. The King believes that it’s time his people were given their freedom.
However, Macay and Menninger have other plans; to oust the king from office and bring in the greedy
king’s son Lacuna Kasoo. Meanwhile, the bishop promises to take in the king’s adoptive daughter-
Princess Sangoi as a student.
Observations from the prologue
The colonial government’s reluctance to concede defeat is seen as the governor and the bishop plan to
remove King Kutula from office. It is observed that, the colonialists would prefer to work with self-
centred Lacuna Kasoo than a King who cares for his people. The mural on the wall depicts the situation
of the people on the ground while the office’s opulence, the lifestyles of those in power. Despite the
suffering of the people of Kutula, the governor is more interested in what the land can produce than
what he really offers.
Meanwhile, as seen in King Kutula, the people prefer education more than they do religion.
Questions from the prologue
Explain on the effectiveness of the proverbs used in the prologue
Identify two styles used in the prologue.
Why do you think King Kutula is unafraid of governor Macay?
The scene is in Tamina’s old grass thatched house. It should be noted that what we see here is abject
poverty. From how the house is sparsely furnished, to the dressing of its inhabitant, and the wrinkles
that make Tamina appear older than she is, we can tell that they live in deplorable conditions.
It is noteworthy that the actions here happen thirty years after independence. In the prologue, we are
told of how the colonialists were planning to torment the people of Kutula. Nevertheless, from the
scene we can see that their plans never materialized or did they?
In this act, Tamina, the host, receives unusual guests. First to arrive is his brother-in-law Romanus Bengo
fresh from prison. From her mannerism and tone, Tamina does not welcome Bengo’s presence. She is ill
at ease and blames Bengo for her current indignation. Before Bengo was arrested, Tamina and her
husband Judah Zen Melo were prosperous civil servants with decent jobs and a government house.
But when Bengo, their relative joined the opposition, and spoke against the government of Lacuna Kasoo,
they were fired from their jobs. Apparently, the leader Kasoo had asked Judah to silence the rebellious
brother Bengo but Judah refused to betray his own blood brother (pg23.)
Tamina longs to return to the past, days when they were living as sycophants. Life was beautiful and
prosperous as opposed to how they are currently living. She can be looked at as selfish and self-centered
because Bengo is fighting against the oppression in Kutula.
Her daughter, Lulu, is also against living in fear of the leader. Nevertheless, she wants to succeed in
education and become a doctor. In order to do this she needs money. Therefore, she begs her mother to
talk to those in power including Lacuna Kasoo. According to Lulu, Kasoo had extended an olive branch to
the people and they were free to see him and talk to him about their problems. To the mother, this was
only empty rhetoric. Lulu, however, promises to finish her school no matter the cost.
Lulu is as a rebellious spirit as her uncle Bengo. She is already aware of her rights and demands what is
right. She is also against her mother’s religion of submission and a god who does not come down to
help. She wants to go at it alone; something that earns her punitive retribution from her mother.
Tamina also receives another guest in the name of her husband Judah Zen Melo. It has been years ever
since Judah left home to look for work to sustain his family. After the fall out, Judah cannot get any
gainful employment in Kutula so he scrapes for any available opportunity to make ends meet. When he
comes back, he is a drunk good-for-nothing man who has given up on life and afraid to stop moving. He
has been working in the mines and seems to have been conditioned to work as hard and as long so as
not to lose his job to younger energetic individuals.
When he comes home, he is ready to die.
Observations from the scene
Bad governance, rampant corruption and intimidation make those who are in power become wealthy
and untouchable. However, the majority suffer from depravity and long for a day when they too will get
to the limelight.
Tamina understands how bad Lacuna’s government is. However, instead of becoming part of the
solution, she would rather be part of the problem. She would rather be part of Lacuna than join
Romanus Bengo in the opposition.
Lulu, on the other hand sees the need for change. She hates her mother’s docile approach to life and
Themes from the scene
There seem to be despondency among the people of Kutula. The few who are rich pay meager salaries
that cannot sustain the local people. Tamina is left alone by her husband to fend for her children. Life
becomes very unbearable for Tamina especially sustaining the education of her daughter Lulu.
Apart from the scarcity of food, there is also scarcity of water. Lulu has to walk for long hours to fetch
water for her family. According to Tamina, all the water (pg19) had been directed to one large dam thus
depriving the people their lifeblood.
The leader demands total loyalty from his subjects. When Romanus becomes an activist and condemns
the current leadership, Lacuna feels threatened. In order to keep his position, he asks Judah Zen Melo to
prove his loyalty. The simple task Judah is to carry is to eliminate his brother Romanus Bengo. Judah
Judah is, therefore, fired from his employment and left for the dead. After his recovery, he tries to no
avail to appease the leader. However, Judah’s efforts do not bear any fruits. Those who are loyal to the
leader like Chipande continue to enjoy the fruits of independence.
This act plays out as a critic to Christianity. Lulu observes that many teachings in the church preach
about hope especially to the poor and the needy. However, as much as they continue praying, nothing
tangible comes off. She says that the Reverend taught them that with God everything is possible yet, He
continues to let them suffer in despondency. As we can see, Lulu is ready to give up, take matters in her
own hands and succeed by her own terms. (pg31)
Questions from the Scene
What is the central role of religion in this scene?
Do you think Tamina’s anger toward Bengo is justified?
Discuss the relationship between Lulu and her mother.
The scene shifts to Kutula People’s Park where the commemoration of King Kutula is to take place. The
current leader gives an inaudible speech to the audience while Lulu and her school musical team
rehearse on the activities that will occur after the ceremony. Lulu has been chosen to be the star of the
show (pg53-54.) Among the dignitaries attending this ceremony are Councillor Chipande, Goldstein and
Rollerstone (check the list of characters.) After the events at the People’s Park, Lacuna invites the
dignitaries and Lulu for a luncheon at the palace.
Observation from the Act
Lacuna Kasoo uses this event to look for a fresh girl for his entertainment in the guise of celebrating his
father’s legacy. The leader tries as much to hide his true intentions in the fact that he is following
tradition and the wish of the gods when his real motive is self-satisfaction.
Events in this scene occur inside Lacuna Kasoo’s palace. Councillor Chipande guides Goldstein and young
Robert, into the palace. From their discussions, Robert and Goldstein are international financiers and
investors. They have loaned Lacuna Kasoo a lot of money for development projects in Kutula. However,
the money ended up in foreign accounts and feeding the insatiable greed of Lacuna and his henchmen
like Chipande and Malipoa.
Robert is described by Goldstein as a young ambitious man who has come to do business in Kutula and
ensure that Kasoo pays up Kutula’s outstanding loans. Lacuna does not seem to get along with young
Robert. One of the reasons as to why the two do not get along is because Robert danced with the
chosen one (Lulu) desecrating Kutula’s tradition. Lulu had been chosen as a young virgin who would
entertain Lacuna Kasoo in the Political Perpetuation Chamber to appease the ancestors but instead she
chose to dance with Robert.
Meanwhile, the two financiers are angry with the economic condition of Kutula. As things stand, it
seems that Lacuna has squandered the country’s resources thus reducing productivity. This has led to
the country not honouring its loan obligations.
In this regard, Goldstein proposes austerity measures including but not limited to reducing the
workforce and doubling on production especially of the silver mines. However, the country does not
have resources to meet these new demands yet the financiers are unwilling to extend more money
towards the economic growth of the state.
Having been humiliated, Lacuna tries to detain the foreigners. Chipande advises him against such drastic
decision given the field day foreign media will have. He relents and lets them go.
Lacuna meets with elders to discuss the possibility of evacuation to create land for foreiegn investments
as dictated by the donors. The elders oppose Lacuna’s move and refuse to convince the the people to
Among the elders in the palace is Sangoi who has now been promoted to position of a councillor. Lacuna
blames her for turning the elders against his authority. But Sangoi reminds him that the people are
entitled to their own decisions and that no one asked Lacuna to request foreign aid. She says that Kutula
could have done well without the foreign aid.
Meanwhile, Lacuna calls Malipoa to report on the impending issue of appeasing the ancestors.
According to Malipoa, the event is supposed to be performed again after four weeks during the new
moon night. Meanwhile, Lulu is supposed to be detained in the royal palace awaiting the day. In this
case her fate is sealed without question.
In the meantime, there is growing unrest in Kutula. Demonstrations against mass movement of people
from Bukelenge valley are underway. Lacuna commands commander Meshak to suppress the uprising.
Later the commander returns with news that the revolt has been dispersed.
Events occur in Tamina’s house. She is alone awaiting her husband’s return but instead hosts the
Reverend Sangoi. Sangoi has bad news. The much awaited for husband Judah Zen Melo is dead. He died
while operating an old machine at full speed in the mines when the belt snapped and took him with
Tamina is lost for words and wants to walk to the mines but she is calmed by Sangoi and Bengo who
comes to check on her sister after learning about Judah. Bengo reminds the Reverend that she needs to
make up her mind because after the revolution to oust Lacuna out, they will need a level headed leader.
On the other hand, Reverend Sangoi cautions them against spilling any blood as they out to oust Lacuna.
She promises to think about the leadership matter and get back to the rebels. Bengo leaves as Sangoi
comforts the bereaved Tamina.
In the palace, Lacuna is impatient of waiting for the day he will appease the dead by spending the night
with Lulu. Malipoa cautions him to wait for one more week. In the meantime, Lulu has learnt of her
father’s death is exasperated. But she cannot be let out of the clutches of Lacuna and his henchmen.
Lacuna is also visited by Robert and Goldstein. This, however, is not a social visit-it is business. Robert
blames Lacuna for poor governance and corruption. He tells Lacuna that he is aware of the leader’s
foreign accounts. In fact, using his miniature gadget, he transfers all of Lacuna’s loot to the company’s
account in order to pay loans extended to Kutula. He says, the donors will use all means necessary to
recover the 120 billion loan extended to Kutula. The first step will be freezing Lacuna and his
henchmen’s account while the rest will be paid by the citizens. Lacuna is incensed. He commands them
to leave. While they are leaving, he calls one of the guards and orders him to detain the foreigners.
With growing uncertainty about Lacuna’s future in Office, the leader issues martial law allover Kutula. In
addition, he plans decides to marry Lulu and become a de facto leader of Kutula.
In a simple room in house within the forest, Bengo and leaders of revolution are meeting to deliberate
on the oncoming revolution. They are also waiting to hear from Reverend Sangoi. The whole operation
depends on whether Sangoi will agree to be the people’s new leader or not. When she comes through,
she accepts to lead the people and asks for a bloodless coup.
Sangoi is only ready to lead the people until such time that Kutula is ready for an election then she will
retire to her church ministry and her family.
In the palace Lacuna is planning to wed Lulu. He is confident that he will remain in power oblivious of
what is happening outside the palace gates. Like a man trapped in a deep pit, Lacuna is caught unawares
by the rebels led by Sangoi.
Lacuna together with his close associates is detained while Sangoi assumes power. The two foreigners,
Robert and Goldstein are released and escorted to the airport. Sangoi warns them that Kutula will only
do business with them according to the terms that they (the people of Kutula) have set.
Lulu reunites with her mother after a month of detention in the palace.