The Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood Bible

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The leader of the village of Kilanga, who often finds himself at odds with Nathaniel Price due to Price’s rigid commitments to Christianity. Ndu is shown to be an intelligent, experienced leader, who is far more in touch with the day-to-day lives of his people than Nathan. And yet Kingsolver also makes it clear that Ndu shares many of Nathan’s faults: he’s plainly a sexist, and cites “tradition” as the reason why women shouldn’t be educated or trained. In an effort to make peace with Nathan, he asks to marry Rachel Price—a suggestion that both Rachel and Nathan rebuff angrily.

Tata Ndu Quotes in The Poisonwood Bible

The The Poisonwood Bible quotes below are all either spoken by Tata Ndu or refer to Tata Ndu . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Freedom, Growth, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Harper Perennial edition of The Poisonwood Bible published in 1999.
Book 2, Chapter 16 Quotes

Anatole leaned forward and announced, “Our chief, Tata Ndu, is concerned about the moral decline of his village.” Father said, “Indeed he should be, because so few villagers are going to church.” “No, Reverend. Because so many villagers are going to church.”

Related Characters: Nathaniel Price (speaker), Rachel Price (speaker), Anatole Ngemba (speaker), Tata Ndu
Page Number: 128
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Nathan Price begins to quarrel with Tata Ndu, the leader of the Congolese village where Nathan has been sent to practice missionary work. Although Nathan sees himself as doing God's work, Ndu thinks of Nathan as a nuisance, making the villagers lazy and putting their lives in danger.

The passage reinforces a point that was already obvious: Nathan is oblivious to the fact that most of the villagers don't care about his religion in the slightest. From their perspective, Christ is just another god to worship, and is even inferior to the gods already celebrated in the village. Nathan, so blindly devoted to his work (to the point where he doesn't spend time with his family), is genuinely surprised that Christianity has become so unpopular in the village, to the point that it is even seen as a bad influence on the village's morals. The fact that he's so surprised suggests that he's been a bad missionary, refusing to pay any real attention to his audience's feelings.

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Book 3, Chapter 35 Quotes

Nelson squatted on his heels, his ashy eyelids blinking earnestly as he inspected Mother’s face. Surprisingly, she started to laugh. Then, more surprisingly, Nelson began to laugh, too. He threw open his near-toothless mouth and howled alongside Mother, both of them with their hands on their thighs. I expect they were picturing Rachel wrapped in a pagne trying to pound manioc. Mother wiped her eyes. “Why on earth do you suppose he’d pick Rachel?” From her voice I could tell she was not smiling, even after all that laughter. “He says the Mvula’s, strange color would cheer up his other wives.”

Related Characters: Orleanna Price (speaker), Adah Price (speaker), Lekuyu / Nelson (speaker), Tata Ndu
Page Number: 263
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Tata Ndu, the leader of the Congolese village where the Prices live now, has asked for Rachel's hand in marriage. The Prices are shocked by Ndu's request, not least because Ndu already has many other wives. Here, Orleanna and Nelson laugh about the absurdity of the situation. Nelson points out that Ndu wants to marry Rachel not because he loves her, but because her skin and hair color will complement that of his other wives.

The passage is important because it reminds us of the sexism in Kingala—a parallel to the sexism in Nathan's own household. Evidently, Ndu thinks of women as objects to be collected, rather than people. Orleanna, even though she laughs at the absurdity of the situation, becomes serious as she contemplates Ndu's "desire" for her daughter. Orleanna's aim is always to protect her children, and here she realizes that her child is in danger of being "bought" by the sexist leader of the village.

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Tata Ndu Character Timeline in The Poisonwood Bible

The timeline below shows where the character Tata Ndu appears in The Poisonwood Bible. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 2, Chapter 13
Freedom, Growth, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Imperialism Theme Icon
...Africa, Nathan’s Christian mission became increasingly difficult to achieve. The leader of the village, Tata Ndu, publicly denounced Nathan for “feeding children to the crocodiles.” Nathan was forced to apologize to... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 16
Freedom, Growth, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
Race, Racism, and Culture Theme Icon
Imperialism Theme Icon
Anatole uses the dinner to tell Nathan that Tata Ndu is angry with the “moral decline” of the village—a decline he attributes to Nathan’s Christian... (full context)
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
Women and Sexism Theme Icon
Race, Racism, and Culture Theme Icon
...villagers actually regard as a preacher and a priest, and a loyal adviser to Tata Ndu. Tata Kuvudundu is perceived as magical, in part because he has six toes on his... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 17
Freedom, Growth, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Adah explains that she’s recently been declared dead—Tata Ndu declared it, assuming she’d been eaten by lions. Adah explains how this all came to... (full context)
Freedom, Growth, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
Women and Sexism Theme Icon
Race, Racism, and Culture Theme Icon
Imperialism Theme Icon
...to the house, she lies in a hammock and relaxes. As she lies there, Tata Ndu arrives and demands to speak to Nathan right away. He tells Nathan that Adah has... (full context)
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
Women and Sexism Theme Icon
Eventually, Adah gets up and shuffles over to Nathan and Ndu. Ndu is highly embarrassed, and leaves at once. (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 22
Race, Racism, and Culture Theme Icon
Imperialism Theme Icon
...sure. Rachel imagines Lumumba leading the new parliament, which consists entirely of people like Tata Ndu. Rachel is so sick of the Congo that she can’t wait to leave. (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 34
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
Race, Racism, and Culture Theme Icon
Imperialism Theme Icon
...Fowles seems more relaxed and easy-going than Nathan. He also mentions his respect for Tata Ndu, Nathan’s great rival for authority in the village. Nathan asks Fowles what he’s been up... (full context)
Freedom, Growth, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
Race, Racism, and Culture Theme Icon
Imperialism Theme Icon
...there are few good doctors around, but Celine suggests that the Prices talk to Tata Ndu, a man of “surprising resources.” Fowles’s last question, before he walks out, is about how... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 35
Freedom, Growth, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
Women and Sexism Theme Icon
Race, Racism, and Culture Theme Icon
Imperialism Theme Icon
...she’d been improving immediately before Reverend Fowles’s visit. Taking Fowles’s advice, the Prices asks Tata Ndu to visit their home. He enters the house, bearing gifts: fresh antelope meat, a basket,... (full context)
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
Women and Sexism Theme Icon
Race, Racism, and Culture Theme Icon
Imperialism Theme Icon
One day, Nelson realizes what Tata Ndu has in mind. He wants a wife for himself—this is why he’s been bringing gifts... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 36
Freedom, Growth, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Women and Sexism Theme Icon
Race, Racism, and Culture Theme Icon
Imperialism Theme Icon
Leah explains the Prices’ problem: if they turn down Tata Ndu’s offer of marriage, Ndu will be very offended. This wouldn’t be good for the Prices,... (full context)
Women and Sexism Theme Icon
Race, Racism, and Culture Theme Icon
Rachel is furious about the possibility of marrying Tata Ndu. Whenever Tata Ndu visits from now on, she makes herself scarce. Orleanna and Nathan hit... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 37
Freedom, Growth, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Imperialism Theme Icon
...time with Axelroot to create the impression that they’re engaged. Just as the Prices planned, Ndu has been avoiding Rachel, allowing Axelroot to “court” Rachel. Rachel admits that Axelroot can be... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 38
Freedom, Growth, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Women and Sexism Theme Icon
Race, Racism, and Culture Theme Icon
Ruth May isn’t sure if Rachel is going to marry Tata Ndu or not. She’s heard that Rachel is considering marrying Axelroot, instead. Ruth May doesn’t like... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 41
Women and Sexism Theme Icon
Race, Racism, and Culture Theme Icon
Imperialism Theme Icon
...they’ll never be rich. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t rich men in the village—Tata Ndu is rich enough to “afford” six wives—but it’s usually accepted that rich men “need” more... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 50
Freedom, Growth, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
Women and Sexism Theme Icon
Race, Racism, and Culture Theme Icon
Imperialism Theme Icon
...afterwards someone in the congregation asks about the upcoming election. Nathan is confused, until Tata Ndu explains that the people of the village will be “voting” on Jesus Christ. Nathan is... (full context)
Freedom, Growth, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
Race, Racism, and Culture Theme Icon
Imperialism Theme Icon
Tata Ndu orders his villagers to proceed with their voting, despite Nathan’s urgings to the contrary. Ndu... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 51
Freedom, Growth, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
Women and Sexism Theme Icon
Race, Racism, and Culture Theme Icon
Imperialism Theme Icon
...declares that she’ll go hunting with her bow and arrow. She’s going to join Tata Ndu, who’s organizing a village-wide hunt to stave off the effects of the drought in the... (full context)
Freedom, Growth, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
Women and Sexism Theme Icon
Race, Racism, and Culture Theme Icon
...happen whenever people break “the rules”; i.e., when women go hunting. After much arguing, Tata Ndu called for a meeting, and the agreement was that Leah was allowed to hunt. (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 52
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
Race, Racism, and Culture Theme Icon
...big hunt in the village, nobody sleeps—everyone is too excited. Early in the morning, Tata Ndu assembles his hunters. There are hunters with torches, bows, spears, and sticks. Some of the... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 53
Freedom, Growth, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Women and Sexism Theme Icon
Race, Racism, and Culture Theme Icon
...trees after she shot it. The other hunters are impressed with Leah’s archery. However, Tata Ndu's son, Gbenye, claims that he killed the impala. Nelson defends Leah, saying that he witnessed... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 55
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
Women and Sexism Theme Icon
Race, Racism, and Culture Theme Icon
...her talent with a bow. When the time comes to divide up the meat, Tata Ndu cuts up the meat and throws a portion to Leah. Instead of accepting it, Leah... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 66
Freedom, Growth, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
Women and Sexism Theme Icon
Race, Racism, and Culture Theme Icon
Imperialism Theme Icon
...so himself, due to his incompetence as a cook. Boanda also told Leah that Tata Ndu was furious when he found out (from Nelson) that Tata Kuvudundu planted a snake in... (full context)