Everyone in Njoroge’s village believes that if Jomo doesn’t win his trial, the “black people of Kenya” will have lost everything. Indeed, they feel as if “black folk [are] on trial.” At school, the boys talk about what will happen, and when one boy says that his father told him Jomo won’t win, another says, “Your father is a homeguard. The homeguards with their white masters. They are as bad as Mau Mau.” In response, another boy interjects, upholding that the Mau Mau aren’t bad because they’re fighting against the white settlers. “Is it bad to fight for one’s land?” he asks. “But they cut black men’s throats,” responds another boy. “Those killed are the traitors! Black white settlers,” says the boy advocating for the Mau Mau.
The word “homeguard” refers to people who have sided with the colonial government to fight the Mau Mau. Jacobo, for instance, is a homeguard. As Njoroge’s classmates talk about these matters, they make it clear that Kenyans are more divided than ever, since some have become homeguards while others have joined the Mau Mau. There are also people like Ngotho, who detest the white settlers and colonial rule but haven’t joined the Mau Mau because they don’t want to be part of a violent revolution. Unfortunately, such people now find themselves torn between opposing factions.
That night, news reaches Njoroge’s village that Jomo has lost his trial. Kori explains that the entire hearing was rigged, and Ngotho becomes afraid of the fact that Jacobo—who hates his family—is the “most powerful man in the land.” Sooner or later, he thinks, he will “retaliate.” These days, Ngotho feels as if the prophecy about his land will never come true. “Perhaps he had blundered in going on strike,” Ngũgĩ writes. “For he had now lost every contact with his ancestral land.” At the same time, he recognizes that he had no choice but to go on strike. “He had not wanted to be accused by a son anymore,” Ngũgĩ explains, “because when a man was accused by the eyes of his son who had been to war and had witnessed the death of a brother, he felt guilty.”
When Jomo loses his trial—meaning that the colonial government will continue to imprison him—Ngotho worries what will happen to his own family now that there’s no hope of a strong leader like Jomo coming to the rescue. As such, he reflects upon his situation, regretting the fact that he attacked Jacobo. At the same time, he cuts himself some slack by recognizing that he did what he did because Boro had made him feel guilty for his previous “inaction.” In turn, Ngũgĩ shows readers that guilt often drives people to carry out rash deeds.
Discussing Jomo’s loss late at night, Njeri loses her temper. “The white man makes a law or a rule,” she says. “Through that rule or law or whatever you may call it, he takes away the land and then imposes many laws on the people concerning that land and many other things, all without people agreeing first as in the old days of the tribe.” Njoroge, for his part, is shocked to hear Njeri speak so passionately. “All white people stick together,” Boro interjects. “But we black people are very divided. And because they stick together, they’ve imprisoned Jomo, the only hope we had. Now they’ll make us slaves. They took us to their wars and they killed all that was of value to us…” Boro suddenly stands and shouts, “Never! never! Black people must rise up and fight.”
Once again, Ngũgĩ emphasizes the extent to which the Kenyan people are divided. In this instance, Njeri is the one to articulate the nature of this division, pointing out that “all white people stick together” but that “black people are very divided,” which is why it is so difficult to rise up against colonialist rule. Indeed, the white settlers understand this, too, so they have “imprisoned Jomo,” who was the only person who might have successfully unified Kenyans and helped them resist the settlers.