2007 Student Research Conference:
20th Annual Student Research Conference

Language & Literature

Mumbi’s Task: Duty and Self-Identity in Ngugi Wa Thiong’o’s A Grain of Wheat
Audrey B. Leihser
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor

A Grain of Wheat, the 1967 novel by native Kenyan Ngugi Wa Thiong'o, depicts Mugo, the central character, who causes the capture and assassination of Kihika, a wanted resistance leader. Although mainly a story of Mugo's betrayal, Mumbi, Kihika's sister, makes choices for her own benefit, and although it conflicts with her role as a wife, mother, and sister, this results in the creation of her strong self-identity. Mumbi influences the male characters and affects their choices and, by extension, the Movement. In an attempt to further understand Mumbi and discover women who had an effect on the Movement for independence in Kenya, I will reveal paradigms in the Bible, pre-Independence Kenyan history and literature, and feminist criticism. Locating Mumbi in the context of Independence and of Thiong'o's beliefs and influences, this paper will examine the universal roles and experiences of Kenyan women during the tumultuous time of Uhuru.

Keywords: A Grain of Wheat, Women in Kenya, Ngugi Wa Thiong'o

Topic(s):English

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 23-3
Location: OP 2117
Time: 10:15 am

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