Njoroge listens to his classmates tell stories about Dedan Kimathi, the leader of the African Freedom Army (otherwise known as the Mau Mau). Impressed by stories about Kimathi’s ability to evade and confound white police officers, Njoroge wonders where his fellow students learn such stories. Regardless, he believes that Kimathi is indeed a powerful person, as even his father and Kamau speak highly of the man. In the years since the incident between Jacobo and Ngotho, Jacobo has been made a chief by the white settlers, who have given him two armed guards to protect him from guerilla fighters. As for Mr. Howlands, he is now the District Officer, meaning that he works closely with Jacobo.
It is perhaps because Jomo Kenyatta has been imprisoned that Njoroge and his classmates turn their attention to Dedan Kimathi, the leader of a militant group called the Mau Mau that fights against colonial oppression in Kenya. Indeed, the Mau Mau provide Kenyans with hope for the future, though stories of Kimathi’s outlaw tactics hint at the dangerous side of this group of fighters. Still, it’s unsurprising that people are beginning to embrace militant leaders, considering that people like Jacobo and Mr. Howlands have assumed militaristic positions themselves.
Njoroge now attends a new school because the local institutions have been closed by the government. As such, he has to walk five miles each day, meaning that he often comes home after dark. One night, he enters Njeri’s hut and senses tension. Before he asks what’s wrong, though, he sees that Boro has come home. “Do you think he is safe?” Njeri asks Boro, interrupting Njoroge as he greets his brother. “I don’t know,” Boro answers, referring to the fact that Kori has been captured by white settlers. Apparently, Boro was also captured but managed to escape. As Boro relates this tale, he breaks down, but Kori suddenly bursts into the hut and demands water and food. After a moment, he explains that he escaped by jumping out of the back of a moving truck and wandering for days. “They said you were terrorists,” he says to Boro.
The fact that Boro and Kori were captured by white settlers—and deemed “terrorists”—suggests that they have joined the Mau Mau, though Ngũgĩ doesn’t state this outright. Still, though, it’s clear these young men are involved in something clandestine, most likely trying to take action against the oppressive white settlers. This is significant, considering what Boro has said in the past to his father, whom he believes isn’t proactive enough in his efforts to protect the family or his people. In turn, readers see that Boro is taking matters into his own hands.
Overcome by what has happened to her sons, Njeri says, “Why do they oppress the black people?” In response, Kori says that the white settlers want to “oppress people” before Jomo’s trial, since “they know he’ll win the case.” As the family discusses the situation, Ngotho sits quietly in the corner. “Ngotho was changing,” Ngũgĩ notes. “Soon after the strike Boro quarreled much with the old man. He accused him of having spoilt everything by his rash action in spite of Kiarie’s warning.” Going on, Ngũgĩ explains that Ngotho has “diminished in stature” because of his son’s harsh criticism, often “submitting unflinchingly to his son.” Because of this, Boro recently tried to get Ngotho to take the Mau Mau oath, but Ngotho refused.
Using Ngotho’s miscalculation at the strike meeting as leverage, Boro tries to convince his father to take the Mau Mau oath. In turn, he reveals that he has in fact joined this militant group, confirming that he wants to take revenge on the white settlers. Despite his shame and regret, though, Ngotho manages to resist his son’s pressure, an indication that he doesn’t believe in violent uprisings, though he inadvertently instigated one himself by attacking Jacobo.