The Full Wiki

More info on Weep Not, Child

Weep Not, Child: Map


Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:

Weep Not, Child is Kenyanmarker author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o's first novel, published in 1964. It was the first English novel to be published by an East African. Thiong'o's works deal with the relationship between Africans and the Britishmarker colonists in Africa, and are heavily critical of British colonial rule. Specifically, Weep Not, Child deals with the Mau Mau Uprising, and "the bewildering dispossession of an entire people from their ancestral land." Ngũgĩ wrote the novel while he was a student at Makerere University.

Plot summary

The book is divided into two parts and eighteen chapters. Part one deals mostly with the education of Njoroge, while part two deals with the rising revolutionary, anti-colonist turmoil in Kenyamarker.

Njoroge, a young boy, is urged to attend school by his mother. He is the first one out of his family who is able to go to school. His family lives on the land of Jacobo, an African made rich by his dealings with white settlers, namely Mr. Howlands, the most powerful land owner in the area. Njoroge's brother Kamau works as an apprentice to a carpenter while Boro, the eldest living son, is troubled by his experiences while in forced service during World War II, one of which was witnessing the death of his elder brother. Ngotho, Njoroge's father and a respected man in the surrounding area, tends Mr. Howlands crops more to preserve and keep an eye on his ancestral land, than for any compensation or loyalty.

On the first day of school, Njoroge meets Mwihaki, who is the daughter of Jacobo. She is one year ahead of Njoroge in school. Njoroge admires and befriends her. Njoroge’s family likes to sit together and tell stories. One time Ngotho, Njoroge's father tells the story about how the land, which is now owned by the landlords originally belonged to their ancestors. Njoroge is very successful in school and soon catches up with Mwihaki and goes to the same class with her.

One day, a strike is called for higher wages for the black workers. Ngotho does not know if he should participate at first, because he would likely lose his job. Finally, however, he decides to go to the gathering, although his two wives do not agree. At the demonstration, there are calls for higher wages. Suddenly Jacobo, the father of Mwihaki, appears. He tries to put an end to the strike. Ngotho attacks Jacobo. The result is a big tumult with two people being killed. Nevertheless, Jacobo survives and swears revenge. Njoroge’s family is forced to move and Ngotho loses his job. Njoroge’s education is thereafter funded by his brothers who seem to lose respect for their father.

The relationship between Mwihaki and Njoroge is not affected by their fathers' hatred of each other. They are still very good friends and remain successful in school. Eventually, however, the two are separated because Mwihaki continues her education at a girls' only boarding school. Njoroge stays close to home where he switches to another school.

For a time, everyone's attention is focused on the upcoming trial of Jomo Kenyatta - a revered leader of the movement. Many blacks think that he is going to bring forth Kenya’s independence. But Jomo loses the trial and is imprisoned. This results in further protests and greater suppression of the black population.

Jacobo and a white landowner, Mr. Howlands, fight against the rising activities of the Mau Mau, an organization striving for Kenyan economic, political, and cultural independence. Jacobo accuses Ngotho of being the leader of the Mau Mau and tries to imprison the whole family. Mr. Howlands has Njoroge removed from school for questioning. Both father and son are brutally beaten before release and Ngotho is left barely alive. Meanwhile, the situation in the country is deteriorating. Six black men are taken out of their houses and executed in the woods.

One day Njoroge meets Mwihaki again, who returned from boarding school. Their friendship is not affected by the situation between their fathers. Then Njoroge passes a very important exam that allows him to advance to High School. The whole village is proud of him. They collect enough money so that Njoroge is able to attend High School.

After a few months, Jacobo is killed. He is murdered in his office by a member of the Mau Mau. Although there doesn't seem to be a connection between Njoroge's family and the murder, it is eventually revealed that Njoroge's brothers are behind the assassination. Boro, the real leader of the Mau Mau. Ngotho soon dies from his injuries and Njoroge finds out that his father was protecting his brothers. Kamau has also been imprisoned for life. Only Njoroge and his two mothers remain free with Njoroge left as the sole provider to his two mothers. With no hope of making ends meet, Njoroge gives up all hope of going further in school and loses faith in God.

Njoroge now hopes for Mwihaki's support, but she is angry because of her father’s death. When he finally pledges his love to her, she is too afraid to marry him. He finally decides to leave town and makes an attempt to take his own life, but his two mothers are able to bring him back from the brink. The novel closes with Njoroge's utter sense of hopelessness.


  • Njoroge: the main character of the book whose main goal throughout the book is to become as educated as possible.
  • Ngotho: Njoroge's father.
  • Nyokabi and Njeri: the two wives of Ngotho.
  • Njoroge has four brothers: Boro, Kamau, Kori and Mwangi (who is Njoroge's only full brother, who died in World War II).
  • Mwihaki: Njoroge's best friend.
  • Jacobo: Mwikaki's father and an important landowner.

Themes and motifs

Weep Not, Child integrates Gikuyu mythology and the ideology of nationalism that serves as catalyst for much of the novel's action. The novel explores the detrimental effects of colonialism and imperialism. Njoroge's aspiration to attend university is frustrated by both the violence of the Mau Mau rebels and the violent response of the colonial government. This disappointment leads to his alienation from his family and ultimately his suicide attempt.

The novel also ponders the role of saviours and salvation. The author notes in his The River Between: "Salvation shall come from the hills. From the blood that flows in me, I say from the same tree, a son shall rise. And his duty shall be to lead and save the people." Jomo Kenyatta, the first prime minister of Kenya, is immortalised in Weep Not, Child. The author says, "Jomo had been his (Ngotho's) hope. Ngotho had come to think that it was Jomo who would drive away the white man. To him, Jomo stood for custom and traditions purified by grace of learning and much travel." Njoroge comes to view Jomo as a messiah who will win the struggle against the colonial powers.

See also


  1. "Thiong'o, Ngugi wa: Introduction." Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Janet Witalec. Vol. 182. Gale Cengage, 2004. 2006. 12 Jan, 2009
  2. "Kenya; Is It Politics Or Myth?". Africa News. The East African Standard. September 8, 2002.

External links

Embed code:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address