Weep Not, Child


Ngugi wa Thiong’o

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Weep Not, Child: Interlude Summary & Analysis

Two and a half years later, a “disillusioned government official” stands on a hill and looks out at Nairobi. Speaking with another person who remains unidentified, he says that he “did not know that this would come to be.” The other person asks him if he saw “the signs,” but he upholds that he didn’t, saying, “We tried our best.” Walking away, he says, “And to think of all we did for them.” One last time, he looks out at Nairobi, “the dumb city he and others of his kind had helped to create.”
Although Ngũgĩ never clarifies the details of this conversation, it likely takes place in the future, when Kenya has finally won its independence from colonial rule. As this unnamed “disillusioned government official” surveys Nairobi, he bitterly acts as if he and his white colleagues have been working for the benefit of Kenya, when in reality they have clearly been taking advantage of the country and its people. This is the only moment in Weep Not, Child that hints at the end of colonial rule, though it’s worth noting that the passage is so vague and short that it’s difficult to definitively say whether or not Ngũgĩ is truly providing insight into Kenya’s independence, which came in 1963, a year before the novel was published (but a year after it was written, if Ngũgĩ’s signature at the end of the book is accurate).
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“One night people heard that Jomo and all the leaders of the land were arrested,” Ngũgĩ writes. No one can quite believe this terrible news. “They want to leave the people without a leader,” a man says at the barbershop. Njoroge, for his part, is upset to hear that Jomo has been captured, since he has always dreamed of meeting him. He once had a chance to see him in the marketplace when Jomo came for a meeting arranged by “Kenya African Union,” but there were too many people in the crowd for Njoroge to lay eyes on the revered figure. Since then, he has looked forward to seeing him in the future. Now, though, Jomo has been arrested, and Njoroge doesn’t know if he’ll ever get the chance to lay eyes on him.
Throughout the first half of the novel, Njoroge’s sense of hope blossoms as he invests himself in the idea of a beautiful new future. With the capture of Jomo Kenyatta, though, the book begins a downward turn, sloping into pessimism and hopelessness, since Jomo himself is a symbol of freedom and progress for people like Njoroge. When he’s detained, then, Njoroge is disappointed by the idea that he may never see him in person. Having said that, Njoroge still has much to hope for, including his own education. As such, it’s clear his optimism won’t simply vanish, though this is perhaps the first time he’s had cause to doubt the future.
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