The story begins with Wariinga, a frustrated female character who have just been fired for rejecting to be sexually harassed by her boss. She was also jilted by Mr. John Kimwana after she was unable to pay her house rent. Having no place to seek refuge, Wariinga decided to go back to her rural village, Illmorog. Her childhood dream of becoming an engineer was however shut by an old rich fellow from Ngorika who impregnated her. She however, never lost her focus, despite of bearing a child; she pursued her career and finally became a mechanic. She also perceived Europeans as the devil on the cross instead of Jesus. As she was heading back to the village she fainted and she was helped by a young man who later invited her to the devil’s feast.
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The author used Wariinga to depict male domination in social, economic and political spheres. She was just in her second year when she was impregnated by a rich man and later denied the claim. But having received acceptance from the parents she proceeded on with her studies, and succeeded passed well in language and humanities subjects. She however suffered from cultural imperialism and she thinks her black color is the main cause of her agony. She even went to an extent of using some skin lightening creams by the name “ambi” to make her color more appealing and whiter (Ngugi 4).
As they were heading to the feast they joined Wangari who represents the Kenyan freedom fighters who have reaped nothing from the modern Kenya even after the long struggle. She lost her plot just because she could not repay her bank loan on time. Wangari did not live to enjoy the fruit of independence which she was hoping for; instead she suffered more even after freeing the country from the oppressive colonialists (Ngugi 38). Mwaura who is the owner of the car they boarded, threatened to kick the old lady out of the vehicle since she didn’t have money to pay her fare. Despite being an African man, Mwaura is now driven by a capitalistic mind which values money more than anything. It was not until the rest of the people who had boarded the car paid Wangari’s fare that he agreed to have her on board.
The feast was made up of the wealthy group of people, who boasted of what they had stolen from people, when the rest of the Kenyans continued to suffer from poverty. Wariinga and Wangari represented the socially discriminated girl child, whose rights continued to be undermined by the wealthy and strong men. The rich on the other hand represented the selfish and ambitious group who stopped at nothing to realize their dreams. They exploited the poor by stealing what rightfully belonged to them and raped them off any opportunity they got to better their lives. Boss Kihara is one of the wealthy members, and he uses his material well-being to pursue Wariinga. He rented her a house, bought expensive clothes for her and even a car with an aim of obtaining her love. In addition, the parents were responsible for choosing a husband for their daughter as it is reflected in waigoko and kamoongonye’s story. Females were also expected to view males as superior beings (Ngugi 20).
The wealthy elite’s conference also known as the devil’s feast was an attestation of peasant and workers exploitation by the greedy foreign and indigenous bourgeoisies. They met to boast of their achievements which were accumulated at the expense of the poor. For instance when the nation was hit by hunger, the wealthy class refused to share with the poor, and instead they exploited them by taking the least they had. The hospitals, police and courts denied the workers and peasant’s justice despite being responsible for their well-being.
Kihaahu wa Gatheeca was also a wealthy man, and a businessman, who discovered that unless you westernize all the school programs, no way you could win the support of the wealthy parents. This shows how morally corrupted the Kenyans mind were. They viewed the western programs superior compared to their own indigenous programs (Ngugi 64).
The whole characterization process enables the reader to understand the antagonistic social welfare between the rich and the poor. The few mentioning of the workers, students, women and children enable us to identify the evil competition which dominated the country. The workers were leaving in deplorable conditions, children walked barefooted and partly naked while the women were perceived as objects to satisfy men’s sexual desires. The wealthy class on the other hand lived a happy healthy life in sanitized cool houses. They had masculine bodies since they never lacked anything as they were used into robbing. They never labored for their possessions, they also overfed themselves to a point of becoming totally disfigured. The author quotes that, “Gitutu had a belly that protruded so far that it would have touched the ground had it not been supported by the braces that held up his trousers, it seems as if his belly had absorbed all his limbs and other organs of his body” (Ngugi 99). As Gitutu wa Gataangaru confesses, the rich took the vast estates from the colonial settlers and later subdivided them into small plots which they later sold at exorbitant prices to the landless Kenyans. They therefore continued to increase their wealth day-by-day while the poor Kenyans continued to suffer even more (Ngugi 52). The rich also felt good when predisposing the poor to more difficult phenomenon as that could elevate their positions in the society to a greater height. According to Gitutu, he looked forward for the moment the poor could bow down before them and beg for the essential needs. When the rich could possibly deny people air for breathing (Ngugi 65).
Gaturia represents the middle class people, who encountered hardships too. While Muturi represents the working group. He is a committed leader who tries to galvanize people and urge them not to give up the fight. He is a true leader who seeks to ensure workers are eventually respected and that their rights are effectively accorded. He stood firm as far as social, economic and political discrimination amongst people are concerned (Ngugi 27). The root cause of life hardships was the fact that crooked people were always appointed into the parliament. They rigged elections and also bribed their way into high offices and that’s why Gitutu was appointed chairman of the local housing committee. At his position, he corruptly allocated contracts to his companions and earned more from it. All this time the communities lived in subsidized housing where the rich pursued to grab.
In conclusion, there were huge negative implications which were left by colonialists in Kenya owing to the capitalist economy that they established. It totally eroded our socialist way of life and replaced it with a selfish and individualistic lifestyle. This empowered few men who later took advantage of the poor, women and the children. They denied them their rights and geared all their efforts in wealth accumulations though at the expense of the poor. Their actions and behaviors towards exploiting the country resources is therefore symbolized as evil and hence the title the Devil on the Cross.