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The Themes of Exploitation and Disillusionment in Ngugi Weep Not Child and Petals of Blood


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The study examined the themes of exploitation and disillusionment in Ngugi’s Weep Not Child and Petals of Blood. From the analysis of the two selected plays under investigation, the study has shown that over the years, the poor people of Kenya had suffered of exploitation, disillusionment, oppression, humiliation, discrimination and dehumanization during and after colonialism. The study has also shown that Ngugi is regarded as Kenya’s most renowned writers whose critical works portrays how the Kenya suffers of poverty. These instances are seen in life of the characters in the two critical works how they suffered of poverty, humiliation, discrimination, oppression and dispossession in the hands of the European and tortured innocently.

The study also shown that these blacks were subjugated, humiliated, oppressed exploited and eventually tortured to death. In conclusion, the researcher recommends that Ngugi’s novel should be added in the school curriculum so as to teach the younger generation to desist from actions that will promote societal ills such as poverty, social injustice, corruption, discrimination, exploitation and dehumanization of the blacks.


The Themes of Exploitation and Disillusionment in Ngugi Weep Not Child and Petals of Blood




1.1     Background to the study

Ngugi is regarded as Kenya’s most renowned writer. He is an eminent writer along with Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka of Nigeria. He is one of the increasing numbers of African writers of international stature and reputation. His writings specifically examine the effects of Mau-Mau rebellion, exploitation, discrimination and oppression of the British-ruled in Kenya during her independence. It is on this backdrop that Ngugi makes it clear in one of his critical works Homecoming that “it is colonial suppression that has caused political violence in Kenya in the first place.

The violence of the British authority and that of the Mau Mau are not comparable because while the first is made to take an advantage of a people, the latter is made to protect their own rights and liberties” (20). He further noted, “Mau Mau violence was anti-injustice while white violence was to thwart the cause of justice” (20). His style of writing and statements make him one of the best African literary icons  because, he strongly hold the view that revolution is a potent weapon of social change without which the continent will remain under perpetual enslavement and subjugation.

It is on this respond that the background to this study focuses on the themes of exploitation and disillusionment in Weep Not Child and Petals of Blood. No doubt, Petals of Blood is a novel that portrays the effects of exploitation, corruption, discrimination and disillusionment of the post- colonial rule in Kenya. Thus event has declared its drought and poor harvests in the village of Ilmorog.

Undeterred, Munira, Karega, Wanja and Abdulla each move to Ilmorog in search of a more provincial life, only to find themselves suspects in a crime that signals a dark turning of the times. Consequently, this makes Ngugi Wa Thiongo’s damning this politics and corruption in Kenya would prove the catalyst for his imprisonment by the Kenyan government.

Ngugi Wa Thiongo’s Weep not Child and Petals of Blood analyses the revolutionary temper over the years especially in the contemporary African novels that many African writers and some intellectuals have been preoccupied with social and political circumstances of their societies. These writers like, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka of Nigeria, Peter Abrahams  of South Africa and the rest of other prominent writers who constitute first, second and third generations of the African literary history have worked truthfully on the reality of African situations.

The fact is that the colonial regime in African societies is the negation of creation and action. Through the expectation with the demise of colonialism and the institution of people’s government, African societies became degenerated rather than progressive.

African writers and intellectuals alike became furious to see their societies being run according to the style and manners of their departed colonial masters. It reflects change in Ngugi’s work from portraying the colonial era to reflecting the exploitation and corruption in Kenya.

In addition, the issue of disillusionment and oppression by the colonial masters and how the novel reflects it are discussed in this research. So, this contemporary African novel sensitises the consciousness of the colonised Africans to the exploitative and ugly nature of Colonialism. It reflects the conflicts between labour and capital, the oppressed and oppressor and the attempts made by the oppressed to achieve political and economic emancipation. With the Marxist undertone, Ngugi makes the African societies precisely the native peoples Kenya aware of their condition and make them to fight for liberty and freedom. Such attempts at improving the people’s standard of living cannot but involve revolutionary actions.

It is observable that the ability of the fictional historian to portray the travails of the people in the society is linked with Ngugi Wa Thiong’o’s emotional ties with the people whose problems, hopes and aspirations this author shares. In the same vein, Petals of Blood attacks the socio-political reality in Africa post-colonial society. Bribery, corruption and nepotism became the order of the day. It is this social reality that aroused the interest of the researcher to portray the theme of exploitation and disillusionment in the selected novels under investigation.


1.2     Statement of the problem

The Statement of this study is to establish the fact that Ngugi’s Weep Not Child and Petals of Blood are highly based on Kenya’s history of subjugation, exploitation, disillusionment and oppression by the white settlers and post –colonial independence government in Kenya.

The Themes of Exploitation and Disillusionment in Ngugi Weep Not Child and Petals of Blood

1.3     Purpose of the study

The aim of this research is to portray the themes of exploitation and disillusionment in Ngugi’s Weep Not Child and Petals of Blood as they affect the people of Kenya colonialism and post colonial periods.

1.4     Significance of the study

The study will be of importance to African leaders to address the evil foundation which the colonial masters laid in African societies. The study will also be of significance to students of English and literature as it will help them have a fair knowledge on the root cause of exploitation and disillusionment that the colonial masters brought to African countries, and it effects to date.


1.5 Objectives of the study

          The objectives of the study are:

  • to examine the theme of exploitation and disillusionment in the two novels under study
  • to portray the consequences and its effects of exploitation and disillusionment in the lives of the characters in the two novels.
  • to understand the meaning of exploitation and disillusionment and the aim of Ngugi’s Weep Not  Child and Petals of Blood .

The Themes of Exploitation and Disillusionment in Ngugi Weep Not Child and Petals of Blood

1.6     Scope and Delimitation of the study

The scope of this study will be delimited to Ngugi’s Weep Not Child and Petals of Blood.


1.7     Research Methodology

The primary method of this work will make use of Ngugi’s Weep Not Child and Petals of Blood. The secondary sources will focus on internet sources, academic magazines and literature novels from library to backup this research work.


I am Prince Stephen. The admin of I'm a passionate writer, editor and an experienced educational blogger who writes articles on education, educational research and school news. I based in Afaha Nsit, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria.

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