Richard and Kainene go to a lavish party with many “Big Men of the new regime” and Kainene’s parents. Kainene’s mother comes up to Richard and drunkenly tells him that she and her husband might leave for London for a while until the political state calms down. Richard is also going to London soon to attend his cousin’s wedding. Kainene’s mother leaves and then Richard goes to find Kainene, who is on a balcony with Madu.
Chief Ozobia and his wife seem to have a loyalty only to wealth, so they immediately try to ingratiate themselves with Ironsi’s crowd – ignoring the fact that their friend Chief Okonji was just murdered. Richard’s visit to London will mean that he is away when the violence first begins.
Richard speaks to Madu in Igbo (which he now speaks well), but Madu always answers in English. Madu has been promoted to Colonel. He and Kainene discuss business and Richard says he thinks there will be another government coup. Madu says this is inconceivable, and he changes the subject.
Richard tries to immerse himself ever deeper in Nigerian culture, but Madu reminds him that he will always be an outsider. The characters often display the human ability to deny reality when reality means bad news.
Two weeks later Richard and Kainene are in Nsukka, and Richard is reading a letter from his cousin, who discusses Richard “going native” and the old title for his book, “The Basket of Hands.” Ijekide, one of Kainene’s servants, interrupts Richard to say that there has been another coup. Richard’s first thought is that he was right and Madu was wrong.
A famous example of European exploitation of Africa was in the Congo, where the Belgian colonialists cut off disobedient workers’ hands and caused the deaths of millions of Africans. To most British people Richard’s relationship with Kainene is seen as a kind of distraction or experiment.
Richard turns on the BBC, and the radio says that Northern officers have taken over and Igbo officers are being killed in Kaduna. Kainene is distraught, as Madu is in Kaduna. Days pass and Kainene continues to worry about Madu, while Richard feels conflicted. One day Kainene hears that Udodi Ekechi (Madu’s drunk friend who criticized Kainene) was tortured and crucified. She has heard that no Igbo officers escaped, but she has also heard a rumor that Madu escaped.
This second coup was directed against Ironsi and the perceived anti-Northern racism of his government. This coup, combined with the growing anti-Igbo sentiments, then spiraled out of control and led to the massacres. The horrible deaths of casually dislikable characters like Ekechi and Okonji comes as a sudden shock.
Two weeks later Madu shows up at Kainene’s house, looking starved. Kainene is overcome with joy. Madu says he was saved by his friend Ibrahim, who warned him that the coup was coming and hid him in his cousin’s chicken coop for two days. Madu then found his way South. He describes the many dead Igbo soldiers. Even among civilians, anyone whose feet looked clean (from wearing army boots) was shot.
As in most wars, many civilians don’t believe the other side is evil, and Madu’s Muslim Hausa friend clearly helped him survive at the risk of his own safety. This second coup is another “betrayal” and split within Nigeria itself, and the beginning of a time of “casual cruelty.”
Madu looks feverish, and he says Northern and Igbo soldiers can never be at peace after this. He cannot believe that General Gowon has been installed as head of state, as he is young and has little experience. Madu says the problem was the “ethnic balance policy” of the army, which promoted unqualified Northerners. Madu had protested this policy, but his British commander had ignored him. Madu looks accusingly at Richard as he speaks.
Gowon was seen as a compromise for the new regime (an attempt to pacify both Igbo and Hausa), as he was a Northerner but a Christian. It is the British colonial system that stirred up all this ethnic hatred, and Britain and America continue to try to hold Nigeria together in order to keep their oil interests safe.