The River Between

by

Ngugi wa Thiong’o

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The Kiama is a governing council that Kabonyi forms in Kameno in order to enforce the tribe’s demand for ideological purity.

Kiama Quotes in The River Between

The The River Between quotes below are all either spoken by Kiama or refer to Kiama. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Colonialism Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of The River Between published in 2015.
Chapter 3 Quotes

[Waiyaki’s] eyes were large and rather liquid; sad and contemplative. But whenever he looked at someone, they seemed to burn bright. A light came from them, a light that appeared to pierce your body, seeing something beyond you, into your heart. Not a man knew what language the eyes spoke. Only, if the boy gazed at you, you had to obey.

Related Characters: Waiyaki, Kabonyi, Joshua
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 22 Quotes

“You must not [marry Nyambura]. Fear the voice of the Kiama. It is the voice of the people. When the breath of that people turns against you, it is the greatest curse you can ever get.”

Related Characters: Waiyaki’s Mother (speaker), Waiyaki, Nyambura
Related Symbols: Circumcision
Page Number: 119-120
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 24 Quotes

No! It could never be a religion of love. Never, never. The religion of love was in the heart. The other was Joshua’s own religion, which ran counter to her spirit and violated love. If the faith of Joshua and Livingstone came to separate, why, it was not good. […] She wanted the other. The other that held together, the other that united.

Related Characters: Nyambura, Waiyaki, Joshua, Reverend Livingstone
Page Number: 131
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 25 Quotes

For Waiyaki knew that not all the ways of the white man were bad. Even his religion was not essentially bad. Some good, some truth, shone through it. But the religion, the faith, needed washing, cleaning away all the dirt, leaving only the eternal. And that eternal was that the truth had to be reconciled to the traditions of the people.

Related Characters: Waiyaki
Page Number: 137
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 26 Quotes

The land was now silent. The two ridges lay side by side, hidden in the darkness. And Honia river went on flowing between them, down through the valley of life, its beat rising above the sark stillness, reaching into the heart of the people of Makuyu and Kameno.

Related Characters: Waiyaki
Related Symbols: Makuyu, Kameno, The Honia River
Page Number: 148
Explanation and Analysis:
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The River Between PDF

Kiama Term Timeline in The River Between

The timeline below shows where the term Kiama appears in The River Between. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 13
Colonialism Theme Icon
Christianity, Tribal Customs, and Identity Theme Icon
Tradition vs. Progress Theme Icon
...the Gikuyu with the means to fight back. Kamau raises the possibility of forming a Kiama to “preserve the purity” of the tribe—Kabonyi developed the idea. Waiyaki worries that if a... (full context)
Chapter 16
Christianity, Tribal Customs, and Identity Theme Icon
Unity and Division Theme Icon
...Kinuthia visits and tells Waiyaki that the elders are making him the clerk of the Kiama. Kinuthia warns Waiyaki that Kabonyi is jealous of him and will make a dangerous rival.... (full context)
Chapter 17
Christianity, Tribal Customs, and Identity Theme Icon
Now that he is in the Kiama, Waiyaki knows that the elders would view his sitting in Joshua’s church as a betrayal.... (full context)
Chapter 18
Colonialism Theme Icon
Tradition vs. Progress Theme Icon
...fight with weapons to drive the white people away. This is why Kabonyi created the Kiama—to protect the “purity of the tribe,” and he himself will lead the revolution. The older... (full context)
Tradition vs. Progress Theme Icon
Unity and Division Theme Icon
...the danger in because he is too consumed by his passion for education. When the Kiama proposes an oath of “allegiance to the Purity and Togetherness of the Tribe,” Waiyaki takes... (full context)
Chapter 19
Christianity, Tribal Customs, and Identity Theme Icon
Tradition vs. Progress Theme Icon
Unity and Division Theme Icon
...wants to think about is education, and as such, he has already resigned from the Kiama and been replaced by Kamau. (full context)
Chapter 20
Christianity, Tribal Customs, and Identity Theme Icon
Tradition vs. Progress Theme Icon
Unity and Division Theme Icon
...rise, but Waiyaki does not have the foresight to see where it will lead. The Kiama’s power grows steadily, and all over the ridges, Kabonyi and his followers make people take... (full context)
Christianity, Tribal Customs, and Identity Theme Icon
Unity and Division Theme Icon
...Joshua’s followers’ huts. Such violence has never occurred before between villages. Waiyaki senses that the Kiama was involved. (full context)
Chapter 22
Christianity, Tribal Customs, and Identity Theme Icon
Tradition vs. Progress Theme Icon
Unity and Division Theme Icon
...all the more and Kinuthia becomes completely devoted to him. Although Kinuthia sympathizes with the Kiama’s thirst for action, something in Waiyaki’s eyes and voice assures Kinuthia that he is the... (full context)
Colonialism Theme Icon
Christianity, Tribal Customs, and Identity Theme Icon
Unity and Division Theme Icon
...celebration and the tribe’s next initiation rites will occur soon, on the same day. The Kiama now regards uncircumcised women as traitors, symbols of the white people’s influence. Waiyaki rises from... (full context)
Chapter 23
Christianity, Tribal Customs, and Identity Theme Icon
Unity and Division Theme Icon
In the middle of the night, Kamau summons Waiyaki for a mysterious meeting with the Kiama. At the meeting, Kabonyi accuses Waiyaki of betraying the tribe by visiting Joshua’s church, conspiring... (full context)
Colonialism Theme Icon
Christianity, Tribal Customs, and Identity Theme Icon
Unity and Division Theme Icon
Waiyaki tries to convince the Kiama that the ridges need to be united, and that Christians and non-Christians can come together.... (full context)
Chapter 24
Christianity, Tribal Customs, and Identity Theme Icon
Unity and Division Theme Icon
Days later, Kinuthia warns Waiyaki that the Kiama claims he is no longer the Teacher. They charge that he has broken his oath.... (full context)
Chapter 25
Christianity, Tribal Customs, and Identity Theme Icon
Tradition vs. Progress Theme Icon
Unity and Division Theme Icon
...feels fearful. Waiyaki wonders if he should not have given up his position in the Kiama. He knows that not all of the white people’s methods or religions are evil—some of... (full context)
Chapter 26
Colonialism Theme Icon
Christianity, Tribal Customs, and Identity Theme Icon
Unity and Division Theme Icon
...her. The crowd turns against him, screaming about the oath. An elder announces that the Kiama will take Waiyaki and Nyambura away and punish them. The crowd agrees, feeling guilty for... (full context)