When Kori and Boro visit home, they bring friends from Nairobi—friends who are politically active and passionate about the divide between white settlers and Kenyans. Njoroge notices that they often speak about Jomo, and so he listens intently, eager to know more about this mysterious figure. “For Njoroge was sure that he had read about him in the Old Testament,” Ngũgĩ writes. “Moses had led the children of Israel […] to the Promised Land. And because black people were really the children of Israel, Moses was no other than Jomo himself. It was obvious.” Listening to his brothers and other men in the village, Njoroge hears conversations about the possibility of a workers’ strike. “All men who worked for white men and [the government] would come out on strike,” Ngũgĩ explains. “The government and the settlers had to be shown that black people were not cowards and slaves.”
During this period, Njoroge hears his brothers and elders talking about hopeful developments. In particular, he is impressed by what he hears about Jomo Kenyatta, who he believes is like Moses because everyone says he will help black people find true freedom (which is what Moses did for the persecuted Israelites by delivering them from their oppression in Egypt). Meanwhile, on a more tangible, immediate level, Njoroge’s loved ones consider the effect of the upcoming strike, embodying a sense of collective hope that this form of resistance will allow them to unite against the exploitative white settlers.
Kiarie, one of Boro’s friends, speaks convincingly about the strike, insisting that he and his fellow Kenyans will successfully secure better pay and fairer treatment if they come together and take a stand against the white settlers. Unfortunately, Mr. Howlands has already warned Ngotho and the rest of his employees that if they go on strike, they will immediately lose their jobs. As such, Ngotho isn’t sure what to do, and this creates discord within his family. Wanting to unite with his fellow black workers, he is inclined to strike, but Nyokabi urges him to remain in Mr. Howlands’s employment, saying that the family will starve if he doesn’t. “This strike is important for the black people,” he replies, but she only says, “What’s black people to us when we starve?”
When Nyokabi upholds that Ngotho shouldn’t focus on “black people” as a whole when he needs to look out for his own family, readers see the difficult decision Kenyans are forced to make between preserving their own livelihood and uniting with their community members. Indeed, this is exactly why the white settlers have purposefully sown division within the black community, hoping all the while that no one will have the nerve to sacrifice him- or herself for the greater good.
Troubled by Nyokabi’s points, Ngotho slaps her across the face, at which point Njoroge jumps up and stands between them. After advancing upon his son for a moment, Ngotho mumbles in anger and walks out of the hut, leaving his family members in tears. That night, Njoroge feels lonely and depressed, wishing he could be with Mwihaki. In an attempt to console himself, he speaks to God, asking if the “strike will be a success.” Waiting for an answer, he falls asleep.
Ngũgĩ has already established that Ngotho’s family is quite close. As such, readers understand how alarming it is that they suddenly find themselves at odds with one another. When Ngotho slaps Nyokabi, it becomes clear that the difficulties of living under the oppressive influence of the white settlers are beginning to tear the family apart, though this is, of course, no excuse for Ngotho to resort to violence.