The River Between

by

Ngugi wa Thiong’o

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The River Between: Chapter 24 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Days later, Kinuthia warns Waiyaki that the Kiama claims he is no longer the Teacher. They charge that he has broken his oath. Furthermore, Kabonyi now claims he himself is the savior foretold by ancient prophecy. Kinuthia thinks that the Kiama is going to attack Joshua tonight. Although he begs Waiyaki to flee for his life to Nairobi, Waiyaki decides he must go to Makuyu and warn Joshua of the coming violence. However, when he tries to do so, Joshua rejects him and blames him for Muthoni’s death. Kamau and his followers see Waiyaki in Joshua’s church and decide that he is the tribe’s greatest enemy.
Waiyaki’s decision to warn Joshua of the coming violence suggests that, although his service to the tribe is impacted by his personal feelings, he still values other people as much as himself. Rather than flee to safety and live, Waiyaki chooses to warn Joshua of a looming threat, even though Joshua hates him. Kamau’s decision that Waiyaki is the tribe’s greatest enemy demonstrates how fickle public opinion can be, since the tribe formerly considered Waiyaki their savior.
Themes
Christianity, Tribal Customs, and Identity Theme Icon
Unity and Division Theme Icon
Nyambura sees Waiyaki in the church and her heart longs for him. She decides that Joshua and Livingstone’s version of Christianity, which divides people and makes them enemies, is not the true Christianity and thus deserves no loyalty. She rises, claims that Waiyaki is telling the truth, and goes to him. She takes his hand and tells him she loves him in front of the whole church. Joshua is enraged, believing this to be Satan’s work, and he renounces Nyambura as his daughter. Nyambura leaves with Waiyaki, and from the darkness they can hear Kamau and his followers calling Waiyaki a traitor.
Nyambura’s belief that a religion that divides people cannot be the true religion suggests that Christianity, if rightly used, can be a unifying force rather than a dividing force. Nyambura’s decision to be with Waiyaki indicates that she recognizes the benefit of integrating Christianity’s beliefs and the Gikuyu tribal customs—she refuses to exclude one for the sake of the other.
Themes
Colonialism Theme Icon
Christianity, Tribal Customs, and Identity Theme Icon
Unity and Division Theme Icon
Related Quotes
With Nyambura beside him, Waiyaki feels his yearning subside. He thinks of taking her and fleeing to Nairobi but decides that he must stay and fulfill Chege’s prophecy of being a savior. Waiyaki and Nyambura go to the river and then return to his hut, where they meet Kinuthia. They feel emboldened together, but Waiyaki knows he will soon have to choose between his tribe and his love. He tells Kinuthia about his journey to the sacred hill and about the prophecy, and Kinuthia feels a new, greater devotion to Waiyaki. Waiyaki decides he will return to that hill tomorrow, and then he will confront Kabonyi in front of all the people.
Waiyaki and Nyambura feel bold now that they are together. This echoes Muthoni’s feeling of wholeness after she was circumcised, suggesting that Waiyaki and Nyambura resolve their own identity conflicts by integrating their two ideological forces (through each other), making their own decisions rather than letting others dominate them, and embracing unity rather than division.
Themes
Christianity, Tribal Customs, and Identity Theme Icon
Unity and Division Theme Icon