The River Between


Ngugi wa Thiong’o

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The River Between Characters


The protagonist of the story, Waiyaki is a young Gikuyu man from Kameno. Waiyaki’s father, Chege, believes that Waiyaki—a natural-born leader—is the prophesied savior who will rescue the Gikuyu from the white colonialists… read analysis of Waiyaki


Nyambura is Joshua’s older daughter and Waiyaki’s love interest. Although she is older, Nyambura lacks her younger sister Muthoni’s courage or resolve. She disagrees with Muthoni’s plan to defy Joshua and be… read analysis of Nyambura


Kabonyi is an elder from Makuyu and Kamau’s father. Kabonyi begins the story as a devout Christian and one of Joshua’s followers. However, he leaves the religion after Joshua disowns Muthoni for undergoing… read analysis of Kabonyi


Muthoni is Joshua’s younger daughter and Nyambura’s younger sister. Although Muthoni is a Christian and cherishes the Christian God, she feels as if she cannot be a real woman unless she is circumcisedread analysis of Muthoni


Joshua is Muthoni and Nyambura’s father and a Gikuyu Christian pastor who lives in Makuyu. Joshua accepts everything that the white missionaries say and believes that they speak with the authority of God… read analysis of Joshua
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Chege is Waiyaki’s father and an elder from Kameno. Chege is old and wise, a seer, and one of the few people who knows of the ancient prophecy that a savior will rise… read analysis of Chege


Kamau is Kabonyi’s son as well as Waiyaki’s friend and eventual rival. Kamau studies under the white missionaries in Siriana with Waiyaki and Kinuthia for several years. After they are banned from the… read analysis of Kamau


Kinuthia is Waiyaki’s devoted friend. When they are young, Kinuthia studies alongside Waiyaki and Kamau at the Siriana mission. After they are barred from the mission school, Kinuthia helps Waiyaki build and run his… read analysis of Kinuthia


Miriamu is Joshua’s wife and Nyambura and Muthoni’s mother. Although Miriamu respects Joshua, she primarily fears him. He often beats her because she is circumcised, even though she was circumcised long before… read analysis of Miriamu


Mugo is a Gikuyu seer of generations past who prophesied about the arrival of the white people and the threat that they posed to the tribe. He also prophesied of a Gikuyu savior who would… read analysis of Mugo

Reverend Livingstone

Livingstone is a white Christian missionary and the only named white character in the story. Livingstone believes he is “enlightened” compared to the earlier missionaries, because he does not try to force the Gikuyu people… read analysis of Reverend Livingstone
Minor Characters
Waiyaki’s Mother
Waiyaki’s mother is Chege’s third (at least) wife. Although she appears very little in the story, she outlives Chege and warns Waiyaki that if he marries Nyambura, the tribe will see it as a great betrayal, and they will destroy him.