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International Research Journal      ISSN-0975-3486        VOL. I * ISSUE—3 &4         RNI : RAJBIL/2009/30097

                                       Research Paper—English
                                   RIGHT AND JUSTICE :
                                 A QUENCHLESS QUEST IN
                               NGUGI WA THIONG’O’S MATIGARI

                                       * A. Ramesh Babu
 Dec.-09—Jan.-2010
        * Ph.D Res.Scholar, English Deptt; Kakatiya University, Warangal [A. P.]
Ngugi wrote the novel Matigari ma Njiruungi in             is told of a medicine man whose name is Ndiiro, but he
Gikuyu in the month of September 1986. It was trans-       does not know the way to Ndiiro’s place…I used the
lated into English as Matigari by Wangui wa Goro. He       same structure in the construction of Matigari, the
wrote three novels in Gikuyu, Devil on the cross,          story of a wanderer in search of social justice in a
Matigari and The Wizard of the Crow so as to address       post-colonial society.” The oral element of the story is
his people peasants, workers and illiterate masses. In     ingrained in the narrative. In Matigari, there are
this connection, Ngugi (1985:151) writes: “An African      enough details of the past history of the country and
writer should write in a language that will allow him to   the freedom fighters. Regarding the antecedents of
communicate effectively with peasants and workers in       the novel, he says:
Africa in other words, he should write in an African             By January 1987, intelligence reports had it that
language.” Writing in African languages has many           peasants in Central Kenya were whispering and talk-
advantages and difficulties. One can fully exploit the     ing about a man called Matigari who was roaming the
native tradition of orature on the one hand and world      whole country making demands about truth and jus-
literature and culture on the other. Ngugi (1993: 22)      tice. There were orders for his immediate arrest, but
mentions that “African writers in African languages        the police discovered that Matigari was only a fic-
are engaged in the great adventure and drama of creat-     tional character in a book of the same name. In Febru-
ing a new and great tradition. In this task they have at   ary 1987, the police raided all the bookshops and seized
least two great reservoirs: the heritages of orature and   every copy of the novel (viii).
of world literature and culture.” English is the domi-           Matigari is a memorable satire on the betrayal of
nant language in Kenya, whereas Gikuyu and Kiswahili       human ideals and on the bitter experience of post-in-
are native languages. But English is spoken and un-        dependence African society and also it is an allegory,
derstood only by a small minority of the population in     the story of every man in a neo-colonial country. Ngugi
Kenya. Ngugi (2009) says that “English is just a lan-      is deliberately vague in establishing both the temporal
guage like any other language. It is only that it got      and spatial settings of his novel; he refuses to define
spread all over the world. It has vocabulary that copes    where and when his story takes place, insisting in a
with certain development. But any language is capable      prefatory song:
of similar development.”                                         This story is imaginary./ The actions are imagi-
     Ngugi narrates how he once heard a story being        nary./The characters are imaginary. /The country is
told to his children by one of his sisters. He wrote the   imaginary – it has no name even. Reader/Listener: may
novel, Matigari based on that story. In Ngugi’s            the story take place in the country of your choice!
(1998:124) own words, it is the story “of a man who        (ix)
has an incurable wound and is in search of a cure. He            Steven Tobias (1997) said that “Matigari is not

36
International Research Journal       ISSN-0975-3486        VOL. I * ISSUE—3&4          RNI : RAJBIL/2009/30097
the story of one isolated country but a schematized               ‘It’s good that I have now laid down my arms.’ He
documentation of the entire postcolonial experience.        tore a strip of bark from a tree and girded himself with
In this novel, Ngugi recounts the way in which West-        it, once again murmuring, ‘Instead, I have now girded
ern institutions and codes supplant those that are na-      myself with a belt of peace. I shall go back to my house
tive to Africa in the service of both the continent’s       and rebuild my home.’ He crossed the river and came
former colonizers and their newly arisen African imita-     out of the forest. (5) Matigari visits a factory and wants
tors. In that regard, Matigari can be viewed as an          to find ‘his’ people and ‘house’. He says that he will
abstract philosophical work with both descriptive and       not go home until he has found his people. He doesn’t
prescriptive elements.”                                     know where to start his journey, and where to look for
     Matigari ma Njiruungi is the main character in the     them. The people working in the factory come from all
novel. It is the story of an old man and a patriot, who     parts of the country. He thinks that a patriot who is
fought in the national liberation struggle and then made    looking for his people ought to start from where people
up his mind to quit his arms and girdle himself with a      work. Matigari tells Ngaruro wa Kiriro, a factory union
belt of peace. He returns home to claim his ‘house’,        leader, that he had built a house with his own hands
which had been usurped by Settler Williams, and John        but Settler Williams usurped it: “The tailor demands
Boy. While searching for his ‘house’, Matigari is           his clothes, the tiller his land, the worker the produce
stunned to discover that the ‘house’ is in the illegal      of his sweat. The builder wants his house back” (21).
possession of John Boy Junior, who runs a business          Matigari’s search takes him to a garbage dump where
in collaboration with Robert Williams. For disturbing       he sees children who pay fees to enter and fight each
‘peace and stability,’ Matigari and Muriuki, who is a       other for ‘goodies’. At the garbage dump, policemen
leader are arrested and put in prison. Matigari searches    often take the things which are in good condition from
for truth and justice in the country. He asks people at     the children. They pretend to get angry and grab it.
the Restaurant, Market place and law courts where           Sometimes the police catch them as thieves.
one can find truth and justice in the society. Three              Muriuki, a local leader and Matigari go to a res-
persons, a student, a teacher and a priest ask him to       taurant and order for beers. Muriuki tells Matigari how
stop searching for truth and justice and not ask too        his mother died. She used to rent a hut in the village
many questions. For asking the same question to the         but she could not afford to pay for it. One day the
Minister of Truth and Justice, Matigari is taken away       landlord asked her to leave the hut but she refused.
to a mental hospital on the orders of the minister but      That night she returned home drunk. Unfortunately,
he escapes from there. No one knows who he is. The          she dies in flames. Now in the bar, they find a barmaid-
government launches a manhunt for Matigari. In the          cum-prostitute called Guthera who is tortured by po-
meanwhile, people debate about the identity of              liceman and their dogs for not offering herself to them
Matigari. Nobody knows whether Matigari is a man or         for free. Matigari saves her from the police. Matigari
a woman or a child or an adult. “Some people say this,      tells Guthera about his story. He tells her that when he
and others say that. Some say that he is as tall as a       had finished building the house, Settler Williams
giant, and that his head touches the sky” (159). At the     grabbed it. He says that he was the one who produced
end of the novel, the police dogs leap on Matigari and      everything. But now it is Settler Williams who collects
Guthera and they fall into a river.                         the profits. Matigari tells Guthera how he had fought
                            II                              Settler Williams, and of how John Boy saved the
     Matigari ma Njiruungi in Gikuyu literally means        Settler’s life. While searching for his family, Matigari is
‘the patriots who survived the bullets’ – the patriots      shocked to discover that the house, which had been
who survived the liberation war. Matigari fought for        usurped by Settler Williams, is now in the illegal pos-
the national liberation and now wants to give up his        session of his son John Boy Junior and Robert Will-
arms, girdles himself with a belt of peace. He buries all   iams. Robert Williams and John Boy prevent Matigari
his weapons with noble intentions:                          from entering the house and they question him about

çÚUâ¿ü °ÙæçÜçââ °‡ÇU §ßñËØé°àæÙ                                                                                    37
International Research Journal        ISSN-0975-3486         VOL. I * ISSUE—3 &4         RNI : RAJBIL/2009/30097
his familiarity with their fathers. Matigari is eventually    because the students went on strike over food. His
arrested because of insistence on reclaiming his              question was that where one can find something and
‘house’. In the prison, he meets people who have              appropriate for one self.
been arrested for ‘selling milk without license’ for ‘va-          A teacher is also afraid of Matigari and he wants
grancy’ and for ‘teaching Marxism’ and communism              to live like others in the society, and he does not want
in school. Matigari tells his story to the people in the      to invite problems by asking and making demands. He
prison. He has decided to come back to his people             suggests Matigari to meet the priest for the answers
girded with a belt of peace. He thinks that a person          to his questions. So Matigari meets the priest and asks
who seeks justice never tires of the search until he          the same question. But he does not get answer and
finds what he wants. He thinks: “Truth never dies;            the priest advises Matigari to approach the rulers.
therefore, truth will reign in the end, even if it does not   Matigari visits a meeting organized by the Minister of
reign today” (64). In the meanwhile, everyone is seen         Truth and Justice. He again asks the same question
asking: ‘Who was Matigari ma Njiruungi?’ His fame             but he can’t get the answer. Matigari and Ngaruro wa
spreads over all the country. At last he escapes from         Kiriro who is a worker in a factory are put in a mental
the prison cell. He becomes a legend; with this the           hospital.
first part of the novel ends. In Part Two, Matigari is                                    III
shown as a hero of the masses. The people of Trampville            The third part shows Matigari and others escap-
compose a song in praise of Matigari ma Njiruungi:            ing from the mental hospital and Matigari making up
Show me the way to a man/Whose name is Matigari               his mind to abandon his ‘belt of peace.’ No one knew
ma Njiruungi,/Who stamps his feet to the rhythm of            how Matigari had escaped. The police already started
bells,/And the bullets jingle./And the bullets jingle (71).   search for a group of madmen and for a woman and a
      To get the answer for his question, Matigari visits     boy who escaped from a mental hospital. The police
many eating-places, restaurants, market places, farm-         have revealed that one of the escaped madmen is the
lands, law courts. He travels on foot. He rides on            one who calls himself Matigari ma Njiruungi. The pub-
donkey carts. He gets lifts on bicycles. He travels           lic are warned that this man is particularly dangerous
matatus, buses, lorries and by train. He goes to all the      because he has delusions that every thing belongs to
places where people are likely together and he asks           him; houses, the land, the industries and even all the
the same question. While searching for truth and jus-         women. Matigari wants to wait until the night falls to
tice, Matigari comes across law courts, small traders,        get his AK 47 from under the mugumo tree. People
shepherds, an old woman. Nobody gives the correct             think that Matigari would come to John Boy’s house,
answer to the question. Listening to the question of          so a group of people gather in front of Boy’s house.
Matigari, an old woman tells him that he can’t find           Everyone expects a miracle on that day. Soldiers and
answers to his questions there where nobody lives.            policemen are everywhere. They want to catch
Truth and justice are to be found in people’s actions.        Matigari alive or dead but in the presence of the crowd.
Right and wrong are embedded in what people do.               Who really was Matigari ma Njiruungi? A patriot?
Among the people, the main problem is fear. She tells         Angel Gabriel? Jesus Christ? Was he a human being
him that there is too much fear in the country and            or a spirit? A true or false prophet? A saviour or sim-
nobody tells the answer even if they knew. Matigari           ply a lunatic? Was Matigari a man or was he a woman?
goes to a student and tells him that he has traveled the      A child or an adult? Or was he only an idea, an image,
length and breadth of the county and asks him the             in people’s minds? Who was He? (158) Matigari es-
same question. The student tells him that students            capes from Giceru, the informer and visits Boy’s house.
were arrested when they had called for a prayer meet-         There the police prevents Matigari from entering the
ing to pray for peace and love in the country but po-         ‘house’ but Matigari goes into the house in the guise
licemen killed twenty-five students instantly. The Voice      of a VIP and sets it on fire too. When John Boy Junior
of Truth announced that the university was closed             hears that his house has been set on fire, he faints and

38
International Research Journal         ISSN-0975-3486        VOL. I * ISSUE—3&4          RNI : RAJBIL/2009/30097
he is rushed to hospital. Not only John Boy but also          may resonate with the truth.” Matigari observes that
many a tycoon have sleepless nights then. The officer         there is too much fear in the country. He realizes that
in charge orders a prize of £ 5,000 to any policeman or       there is no truth, there is no peace, and nothing has
soldier who catches hold of Matigari, dead or alive. A        changed. Matigari says that truth and justice are
hunt is again launched for Matigari. The police dogs          mightier than any armed power but he wants to get
catch up with him on the banks of the river in the            truth and justice by weapons at the end of the novel.
forests. Matigari and Guthera jump into the river. The        There are the neo-colonial forces before independence
police hope to see the bodies of Matigari and Guthera         and Matigari observes the forces after independence
floating on the water. The real questions remained:           also. Through his character one can understand that
“Were they dead or alive? Who was Matigari?”                  every one has to become a revolutionary against neo-
                            IV                                colonial forces.
      Matigari in the beginning of the novel buries A.K.            About imperialism, Ngugi (1993:55) says, “Impe-
47 and a cartridge belt in the forest and wants to wear       rialism is a three headed monster with one head spit-
‘a belt of peace.’ Having fought the white Settler and        ting or threatening to spit fire at the socialist world;
gained freedom for his land. He thinks that it was a          the other head is spitting fire at the working people in
period of peace, not of war. But it proves ineffective in     its own home base; and the third head is directing fire
the face of neo-colonialism. The white man’s entrance         and brimstone at the national liberation struggles in
through the backdoor with black politicians as their          the ‘Third’ world that seem committed to fundamental
new collaborators turns Matigari’s dreams into a night-       social change.” In the novel, Matigari, the protago-
mare. Matigari built a house but Settler Williams slept       nist represents the forces of revolution comprising the
in it. He asked Settler Williams many times to leave the      patriots, peasants and revolutionary-activists. An-
house but Settler Williams did not listen to the words        other character Ngaruro wa Kiriro represents the work-
of Matigari. At last, with disgust, Matigari killed Set-      ing class, Muriuki represents youth and Guthera rep-
                                                              resents women. The remaining characters Settler Wil-
tler Williams. Matigari started his journey for social
                                                              liams and John Boy represent the colonial forces. Rob-
changes. He left his weapons and wanted to find ‘truth
                                                              ert Williams, the son of Settler William, represents the
and justice’. Wandering across the land for many miles,
                                                              neo-colonial forces, which had come back after inde-
he finally comes upon the extensive plantation. He
                                                              pendence. At the end of the novel, Matigari sets fire
goes to his ‘house’ with Guthera and Muriuki. Matigari,
                                                              to the house of John Boy Junior which represents
peasant and tiller of the land, knows it to be his home.      imperialism.Matigari is a fictional character in the novel.
The house represents the land and Kenya. Matigari is          But peasants and workers think that there is a person
the voice of the nation; he is ‘the crystallization of the    called Matigari, who wants ‘truth and justice.’ Matigari
collective desires of the nation” (Simon Gikandi,             is puzzled by a world where the producer is not the
1992:382) Matigari’s character represents everyone            one who has the last word on what he has produced.
who suffered under the colonialists and fought in the         He goes round the country asking questions about
war of independence. He is the seeker of truth and            truth and justice. People who read the novel started
justice and he can’t get the answer for his question.         talking about Matigari and the questions he had raised
Gikandi (1992:382) puts a note that “Matigari’s words         as if Matigari was a real person in life.

R E F E R E N C E                              * Diawara, Manthia “Who is afraid of Ngugi?”. Black Renaissance. 20 Nov,
                                           2009. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_7473/is_200710/ai_n32249098/ *
Ngugi wa Thiong’o, “On Writing in Gikuyu,” Research in African Literatures. 16- 2 (1985): 151. * Ngugi wa Thiong’o,
Decolonising the Mind, (London: Heinemann, 1986): 160. * Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Moving the Centre: The Struggle for Cultural
Freedoms (Nairobi, African Educational Publishers, 1993): 22. * Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Penpoints, Gunpoints, and Dreams
(Clarendon Press, Oxford 1998): 124. * Simon Gikandi, “The Politics and Poetics of National Formation: Recent African
Writing,” From Commonwealth to Postcolonial, (ed.) Anna Rutherford. (Sydney: Dangaroo Press, 1992): 382. * Steven Tobias,
“The Poetics of Revolution: Ngugi Wa Thiong’o’s Matigari Critique, 38 (1997).

çÚUâ¿ü °ÙæçÜçââ °‡ÇU §ßñËØé°àæÙ                                                                                      39

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RESEARCH ANALYSIS AND EVALUATION

  • 1. International Research Journal ISSN-0975-3486 VOL. I * ISSUE—3 &4 RNI : RAJBIL/2009/30097 Research Paper—English RIGHT AND JUSTICE : A QUENCHLESS QUEST IN NGUGI WA THIONG’O’S MATIGARI * A. Ramesh Babu Dec.-09—Jan.-2010 * Ph.D Res.Scholar, English Deptt; Kakatiya University, Warangal [A. P.] Ngugi wrote the novel Matigari ma Njiruungi in is told of a medicine man whose name is Ndiiro, but he Gikuyu in the month of September 1986. It was trans- does not know the way to Ndiiro’s place…I used the lated into English as Matigari by Wangui wa Goro. He same structure in the construction of Matigari, the wrote three novels in Gikuyu, Devil on the cross, story of a wanderer in search of social justice in a Matigari and The Wizard of the Crow so as to address post-colonial society.” The oral element of the story is his people peasants, workers and illiterate masses. In ingrained in the narrative. In Matigari, there are this connection, Ngugi (1985:151) writes: “An African enough details of the past history of the country and writer should write in a language that will allow him to the freedom fighters. Regarding the antecedents of communicate effectively with peasants and workers in the novel, he says: Africa in other words, he should write in an African By January 1987, intelligence reports had it that language.” Writing in African languages has many peasants in Central Kenya were whispering and talk- advantages and difficulties. One can fully exploit the ing about a man called Matigari who was roaming the native tradition of orature on the one hand and world whole country making demands about truth and jus- literature and culture on the other. Ngugi (1993: 22) tice. There were orders for his immediate arrest, but mentions that “African writers in African languages the police discovered that Matigari was only a fic- are engaged in the great adventure and drama of creat- tional character in a book of the same name. In Febru- ing a new and great tradition. In this task they have at ary 1987, the police raided all the bookshops and seized least two great reservoirs: the heritages of orature and every copy of the novel (viii). of world literature and culture.” English is the domi- Matigari is a memorable satire on the betrayal of nant language in Kenya, whereas Gikuyu and Kiswahili human ideals and on the bitter experience of post-in- are native languages. But English is spoken and un- dependence African society and also it is an allegory, derstood only by a small minority of the population in the story of every man in a neo-colonial country. Ngugi Kenya. Ngugi (2009) says that “English is just a lan- is deliberately vague in establishing both the temporal guage like any other language. It is only that it got and spatial settings of his novel; he refuses to define spread all over the world. It has vocabulary that copes where and when his story takes place, insisting in a with certain development. But any language is capable prefatory song: of similar development.” This story is imaginary./ The actions are imagi- Ngugi narrates how he once heard a story being nary./The characters are imaginary. /The country is told to his children by one of his sisters. He wrote the imaginary – it has no name even. Reader/Listener: may novel, Matigari based on that story. In Ngugi’s the story take place in the country of your choice! (1998:124) own words, it is the story “of a man who (ix) has an incurable wound and is in search of a cure. He Steven Tobias (1997) said that “Matigari is not 36
  • 2. International Research Journal ISSN-0975-3486 VOL. I * ISSUE—3&4 RNI : RAJBIL/2009/30097 the story of one isolated country but a schematized ‘It’s good that I have now laid down my arms.’ He documentation of the entire postcolonial experience. tore a strip of bark from a tree and girded himself with In this novel, Ngugi recounts the way in which West- it, once again murmuring, ‘Instead, I have now girded ern institutions and codes supplant those that are na- myself with a belt of peace. I shall go back to my house tive to Africa in the service of both the continent’s and rebuild my home.’ He crossed the river and came former colonizers and their newly arisen African imita- out of the forest. (5) Matigari visits a factory and wants tors. In that regard, Matigari can be viewed as an to find ‘his’ people and ‘house’. He says that he will abstract philosophical work with both descriptive and not go home until he has found his people. He doesn’t prescriptive elements.” know where to start his journey, and where to look for Matigari ma Njiruungi is the main character in the them. The people working in the factory come from all novel. It is the story of an old man and a patriot, who parts of the country. He thinks that a patriot who is fought in the national liberation struggle and then made looking for his people ought to start from where people up his mind to quit his arms and girdle himself with a work. Matigari tells Ngaruro wa Kiriro, a factory union belt of peace. He returns home to claim his ‘house’, leader, that he had built a house with his own hands which had been usurped by Settler Williams, and John but Settler Williams usurped it: “The tailor demands Boy. While searching for his ‘house’, Matigari is his clothes, the tiller his land, the worker the produce stunned to discover that the ‘house’ is in the illegal of his sweat. The builder wants his house back” (21). possession of John Boy Junior, who runs a business Matigari’s search takes him to a garbage dump where in collaboration with Robert Williams. For disturbing he sees children who pay fees to enter and fight each ‘peace and stability,’ Matigari and Muriuki, who is a other for ‘goodies’. At the garbage dump, policemen leader are arrested and put in prison. Matigari searches often take the things which are in good condition from for truth and justice in the country. He asks people at the children. They pretend to get angry and grab it. the Restaurant, Market place and law courts where Sometimes the police catch them as thieves. one can find truth and justice in the society. Three Muriuki, a local leader and Matigari go to a res- persons, a student, a teacher and a priest ask him to taurant and order for beers. Muriuki tells Matigari how stop searching for truth and justice and not ask too his mother died. She used to rent a hut in the village many questions. For asking the same question to the but she could not afford to pay for it. One day the Minister of Truth and Justice, Matigari is taken away landlord asked her to leave the hut but she refused. to a mental hospital on the orders of the minister but That night she returned home drunk. Unfortunately, he escapes from there. No one knows who he is. The she dies in flames. Now in the bar, they find a barmaid- government launches a manhunt for Matigari. In the cum-prostitute called Guthera who is tortured by po- meanwhile, people debate about the identity of liceman and their dogs for not offering herself to them Matigari. Nobody knows whether Matigari is a man or for free. Matigari saves her from the police. Matigari a woman or a child or an adult. “Some people say this, tells Guthera about his story. He tells her that when he and others say that. Some say that he is as tall as a had finished building the house, Settler Williams giant, and that his head touches the sky” (159). At the grabbed it. He says that he was the one who produced end of the novel, the police dogs leap on Matigari and everything. But now it is Settler Williams who collects Guthera and they fall into a river. the profits. Matigari tells Guthera how he had fought II Settler Williams, and of how John Boy saved the Matigari ma Njiruungi in Gikuyu literally means Settler’s life. While searching for his family, Matigari is ‘the patriots who survived the bullets’ – the patriots shocked to discover that the house, which had been who survived the liberation war. Matigari fought for usurped by Settler Williams, is now in the illegal pos- the national liberation and now wants to give up his session of his son John Boy Junior and Robert Will- arms, girdles himself with a belt of peace. He buries all iams. Robert Williams and John Boy prevent Matigari his weapons with noble intentions: from entering the house and they question him about çÚUâ¿ü °ÙæçÜçââ °‡ÇU §ßñËØé°àæÙ 37
  • 3. International Research Journal ISSN-0975-3486 VOL. I * ISSUE—3 &4 RNI : RAJBIL/2009/30097 his familiarity with their fathers. Matigari is eventually because the students went on strike over food. His arrested because of insistence on reclaiming his question was that where one can find something and ‘house’. In the prison, he meets people who have appropriate for one self. been arrested for ‘selling milk without license’ for ‘va- A teacher is also afraid of Matigari and he wants grancy’ and for ‘teaching Marxism’ and communism to live like others in the society, and he does not want in school. Matigari tells his story to the people in the to invite problems by asking and making demands. He prison. He has decided to come back to his people suggests Matigari to meet the priest for the answers girded with a belt of peace. He thinks that a person to his questions. So Matigari meets the priest and asks who seeks justice never tires of the search until he the same question. But he does not get answer and finds what he wants. He thinks: “Truth never dies; the priest advises Matigari to approach the rulers. therefore, truth will reign in the end, even if it does not Matigari visits a meeting organized by the Minister of reign today” (64). In the meanwhile, everyone is seen Truth and Justice. He again asks the same question asking: ‘Who was Matigari ma Njiruungi?’ His fame but he can’t get the answer. Matigari and Ngaruro wa spreads over all the country. At last he escapes from Kiriro who is a worker in a factory are put in a mental the prison cell. He becomes a legend; with this the hospital. first part of the novel ends. In Part Two, Matigari is III shown as a hero of the masses. The people of Trampville The third part shows Matigari and others escap- compose a song in praise of Matigari ma Njiruungi: ing from the mental hospital and Matigari making up Show me the way to a man/Whose name is Matigari his mind to abandon his ‘belt of peace.’ No one knew ma Njiruungi,/Who stamps his feet to the rhythm of how Matigari had escaped. The police already started bells,/And the bullets jingle./And the bullets jingle (71). search for a group of madmen and for a woman and a To get the answer for his question, Matigari visits boy who escaped from a mental hospital. The police many eating-places, restaurants, market places, farm- have revealed that one of the escaped madmen is the lands, law courts. He travels on foot. He rides on one who calls himself Matigari ma Njiruungi. The pub- donkey carts. He gets lifts on bicycles. He travels lic are warned that this man is particularly dangerous matatus, buses, lorries and by train. He goes to all the because he has delusions that every thing belongs to places where people are likely together and he asks him; houses, the land, the industries and even all the the same question. While searching for truth and jus- women. Matigari wants to wait until the night falls to tice, Matigari comes across law courts, small traders, get his AK 47 from under the mugumo tree. People shepherds, an old woman. Nobody gives the correct think that Matigari would come to John Boy’s house, answer to the question. Listening to the question of so a group of people gather in front of Boy’s house. Matigari, an old woman tells him that he can’t find Everyone expects a miracle on that day. Soldiers and answers to his questions there where nobody lives. policemen are everywhere. They want to catch Truth and justice are to be found in people’s actions. Matigari alive or dead but in the presence of the crowd. Right and wrong are embedded in what people do. Who really was Matigari ma Njiruungi? A patriot? Among the people, the main problem is fear. She tells Angel Gabriel? Jesus Christ? Was he a human being him that there is too much fear in the country and or a spirit? A true or false prophet? A saviour or sim- nobody tells the answer even if they knew. Matigari ply a lunatic? Was Matigari a man or was he a woman? goes to a student and tells him that he has traveled the A child or an adult? Or was he only an idea, an image, length and breadth of the county and asks him the in people’s minds? Who was He? (158) Matigari es- same question. The student tells him that students capes from Giceru, the informer and visits Boy’s house. were arrested when they had called for a prayer meet- There the police prevents Matigari from entering the ing to pray for peace and love in the country but po- ‘house’ but Matigari goes into the house in the guise licemen killed twenty-five students instantly. The Voice of a VIP and sets it on fire too. When John Boy Junior of Truth announced that the university was closed hears that his house has been set on fire, he faints and 38
  • 4. International Research Journal ISSN-0975-3486 VOL. I * ISSUE—3&4 RNI : RAJBIL/2009/30097 he is rushed to hospital. Not only John Boy but also may resonate with the truth.” Matigari observes that many a tycoon have sleepless nights then. The officer there is too much fear in the country. He realizes that in charge orders a prize of £ 5,000 to any policeman or there is no truth, there is no peace, and nothing has soldier who catches hold of Matigari, dead or alive. A changed. Matigari says that truth and justice are hunt is again launched for Matigari. The police dogs mightier than any armed power but he wants to get catch up with him on the banks of the river in the truth and justice by weapons at the end of the novel. forests. Matigari and Guthera jump into the river. The There are the neo-colonial forces before independence police hope to see the bodies of Matigari and Guthera and Matigari observes the forces after independence floating on the water. The real questions remained: also. Through his character one can understand that “Were they dead or alive? Who was Matigari?” every one has to become a revolutionary against neo- IV colonial forces. Matigari in the beginning of the novel buries A.K. About imperialism, Ngugi (1993:55) says, “Impe- 47 and a cartridge belt in the forest and wants to wear rialism is a three headed monster with one head spit- ‘a belt of peace.’ Having fought the white Settler and ting or threatening to spit fire at the socialist world; gained freedom for his land. He thinks that it was a the other head is spitting fire at the working people in period of peace, not of war. But it proves ineffective in its own home base; and the third head is directing fire the face of neo-colonialism. The white man’s entrance and brimstone at the national liberation struggles in through the backdoor with black politicians as their the ‘Third’ world that seem committed to fundamental new collaborators turns Matigari’s dreams into a night- social change.” In the novel, Matigari, the protago- mare. Matigari built a house but Settler Williams slept nist represents the forces of revolution comprising the in it. He asked Settler Williams many times to leave the patriots, peasants and revolutionary-activists. An- house but Settler Williams did not listen to the words other character Ngaruro wa Kiriro represents the work- of Matigari. At last, with disgust, Matigari killed Set- ing class, Muriuki represents youth and Guthera rep- resents women. The remaining characters Settler Wil- tler Williams. Matigari started his journey for social liams and John Boy represent the colonial forces. Rob- changes. He left his weapons and wanted to find ‘truth ert Williams, the son of Settler William, represents the and justice’. Wandering across the land for many miles, neo-colonial forces, which had come back after inde- he finally comes upon the extensive plantation. He pendence. At the end of the novel, Matigari sets fire goes to his ‘house’ with Guthera and Muriuki. Matigari, to the house of John Boy Junior which represents peasant and tiller of the land, knows it to be his home. imperialism.Matigari is a fictional character in the novel. The house represents the land and Kenya. Matigari is But peasants and workers think that there is a person the voice of the nation; he is ‘the crystallization of the called Matigari, who wants ‘truth and justice.’ Matigari collective desires of the nation” (Simon Gikandi, is puzzled by a world where the producer is not the 1992:382) Matigari’s character represents everyone one who has the last word on what he has produced. who suffered under the colonialists and fought in the He goes round the country asking questions about war of independence. He is the seeker of truth and truth and justice. People who read the novel started justice and he can’t get the answer for his question. talking about Matigari and the questions he had raised Gikandi (1992:382) puts a note that “Matigari’s words as if Matigari was a real person in life. R E F E R E N C E * Diawara, Manthia “Who is afraid of Ngugi?”. Black Renaissance. 20 Nov, 2009. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_7473/is_200710/ai_n32249098/ * Ngugi wa Thiong’o, “On Writing in Gikuyu,” Research in African Literatures. 16- 2 (1985): 151. * Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Decolonising the Mind, (London: Heinemann, 1986): 160. * Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Moving the Centre: The Struggle for Cultural Freedoms (Nairobi, African Educational Publishers, 1993): 22. * Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Penpoints, Gunpoints, and Dreams (Clarendon Press, Oxford 1998): 124. * Simon Gikandi, “The Politics and Poetics of National Formation: Recent African Writing,” From Commonwealth to Postcolonial, (ed.) Anna Rutherford. (Sydney: Dangaroo Press, 1992): 382. * Steven Tobias, “The Poetics of Revolution: Ngugi Wa Thiong’o’s Matigari Critique, 38 (1997). çÚUâ¿ü °ÙæçÜçââ °‡ÇU §ßñËØé°àæÙ 39