CHARACTERS AND CHARACTERISATION - GUIDE TO 'BLOSSOMS OF THE SAVANNAH'
A character is a fictitious personage created by a novelist in order to convey an idea. Characterization is the process of selecting suitable characters that suit specific roles by the novelist. Characters are of many types: main, minor, shadow, protagonist, antagonist depending on their role and significance. With themes and style, they form the basic triangle in literary work. The three questions answered by the three basic aspects are what, how and who. The question answered by character and characterization is “who”. In this novel, the protagonist, the character every reader would wish to be like, is Resian. The family of Kaelo is a key family; Kaelo, Mama Milanoi and Taiyo. Close people to this family like Oloisudori, Olarinkoi, and Joseph Parmuat are equally key characters in this novel. There are still other characters that help in anchoring thematic concerns, the plot and style and they include: Simiren, his wives especially Yeiyoo Botorr and yeiyoo-kiti, Ole Supeyo, Nabaru, Minik, the enkamuratani and enkoiboni.
Parsimei Ole Kaelo
He is the husband to Mama Milanoi and father to Taiyo and Resian. He is a retrenched commercial manager of Agribix Limited Company situated in Nakuru.
As the bread winner of the family and a senior officer at the work place Kaelo develops a strict character. As the novel begins, he is reprimanding the loaders of a lorry (p.1). He denies Taiyo permission to travel to Mombasa with other young men and women to attend an extravaganza. He thinks Taiyo’s exposure to music extravaganza would make her a harlot (p.45). Taiyo tells Resian they hurry to the lorry before father spoils their day with his sharp tongue (p. 5). He also denies Resian a chance to go to the university saying her education is enough yet his aim is to enjoy the money (p.207). He terms Resian as stupid and myopic for insisting on going to school. (p.207). His daughters fear to report the heinous incident when they are accosted by a callous young man (p.20). When he is away, the house is joyous and comfortable. (p.35). The moment Resian sees him, she becomes clumsy and breaks a glass (p.40). During the homecoming ceremony, he sends a corrosive glance at Taiyo when Joseph approaches her. (p.48). When their father comes at the sitting room, Taiyo and Resian disappear to the kitchen (p.69)
Commanding/ short tempered
He commands the loaders violently (p.1).Taiyo knew the sting of her father’s tongue. (p.1)When a lorry breaks down during relocation, he fuses, curses and mutters expletives (p.10).When Resian becomes clumsy and almost breaks the glass he winces, grimaces and struggles to control himself (p 40).When mama Milanoi shows her dilemma about whether the girls should be circumcised or not, Kaelo commands, “You must immediately start counseling the girls”(p.61). After Supeyo fails to take him to Oloisudori, he gets very annoyed. He shouted in a thunderous booming voice (p.46). On learning that her girls were accosted he takes a sword and froths trembling (p.147).He furiously pursues the men who had accosted his daughters (p.159).
He detests Resian from the moment she is born. When she shows early signs of maturity he declares to himself “the earlier we disposed of her, the better” (p.10). This clearly shows his disregard to his own blood. Mama Milanoi attests that Kaelo had scolded and bullied her like half-witted child (p.29). He wonders where in the world they fetched that awkward, overblown, stupid Resian. (p.40). When they make an accident with Resian at the door he curses, “Have you run amok?”(P.96). This is a disregard of the delicate emotional little girl. He brutally slaps Resian for not co-operating with Oloisudori (p.209) He gets dowry from Oloisudori without even informing his daughters (p.209).This is great disregard to Resian for she is the one expected to be in the marriage yet he does not inform her that he has picked dowry.
Kaelo remembers how while young he worked himself to the bone preparing for his future (p.8). He believes the way to the stars is hard work (p.8). Hard work had seen him through the ranks from a clerk to the coveted position of a manager (p.9). He succeeds in whatever he puts his hands in (p.29). He goes to Nakuru to work and returns to Nasila with wealth (p.38). While organizing for the homecoming event, he wakes up at cock crow. Mama Milanoi informs Yeiyo-Botorr that Kaelo is hard-working and that Taiyo resembles him (p.76).
A sexist person is that who discriminates on grounds of sex. Right from the time Resian is born, he detests her for she is not male. It is unfair for a child is always innocent. In this case she did not participate in her birth. He uses abusive language on Resian most of the time. He instructs Joseph to coach her girls on traditional dances. Resian argues that if they were males their father would not have got them a trainer. It had been his prayer to get at least three boys (p.9).
Taiyo is his pride. When she is born, Kaelo proofs his fatherhood (p.10). But when he gets the second girl, he is disappointed. He detests Resian since then (p.10). When he sees Joseph talking to her daughter, he refers her to Mama Milanoi’s daughter (p .48) yet we know she belongs to both her father and mother but since he considers the gesture embarrassing he does not wish to be associated with her. He talks to her daughter through their mother (p.69).this is because his gloated manly feeling cannot allow him to address a young girl. He stays for long time without relaying critical information like the intention by Oloisudori to marry one of his daughters (p.114). Since she is a woman and her decisions are not necessary, he first weighs the issue independently.
His mentor is Ole Supeyo (p.20) who is a serious businessman in cattle trading. He owns a pick up for business (p.22). Plans to open the shop at the onset of rains (p.24). He is about to sign a four-year’s contract with the government through Oloisudori. (p.24). His mother-in-law is happy to get a son in law who is a businessman (p.28).
Even after being warned by Supeyo against the corrupt Oloisudori, Kaelo insists on dealing with him due to financial gains. He views the warning as envy on the part of Supeyo (p.26). Because of greed, he becomes a sycophantic follower of Oloisudori. This makes him mention reckless statements like “There is nothing that he ought to be denied in this home” (p.98). He chooses to deal with Oloisudori the criminal due to greed (p.109). He wishes to deal with the wealthy. (p.109). He does not care the means of getting wealthy (p.111). He takes dowry for his two daughters even when they want to join university (p.111).
He tells off his brother when elders send him to tell him to marry other wives and get more children and sons. He says polygamy is archaic. He has only one wife and two daughters even when men have many wives and many children. He builds a modern stone house for his family with red tiles (p.27). His shop in Nasila is also furnished tastefully to attract high-class customers.
Though a parent to Resian and Taiyo he betrays them. He does not provide parental love as he ought to. He does not support university education for his daughters and he supports their early marriage. He also supports their FGM so that he can receive dowry and safeguard his businesses.
During the homecoming ceremony, he swears never again will he Live away from Nasila nor abandon its culture (p.40). The twin sub clans of Ilmolelian Itoorasha Kiheji and Lelema will always be like two chambers of his heart. (p.40). He calls Joseph to train Taiyo and Resian Maa dance and culture (p.121).
He had got detached from Nasila life for many years. He has to hold a homecoming ceremony. (p.37). It is now thirty years since he left Nasila for Nakuru. He seems to embrace more of the modern culture than the traditional one. This makes him embrace the likes of Oloisudori
He made sure that their furniture was loaded as fittingly as possible so that it does not break on the way (p.14).He organizes a homecoming party without fault (p. 37). He includes guests from all the five clans (p 37).
When elders send Simiren to tell him to be polygamous, he dismisses polygamy as archaic yet later he encourages FGM on her daughters (p.13), which is equally a negative traditional cultural practice.
Even when he is retrenched, he goes about the sudden news without physically showing he is beaten. He views the new change as an inevitability (p.7). When Resian runs and leaves Oloisudori at home on reaching the shop, Kaelo attempts not to show his great fury to the girl. When asked about university studies he answers stoically, “I decided I am not sending you there” (p.207).
He stubbornly denies his daughters a chance to study at the university. Taiyo comments ‘You know the stubbornness of father’ (p. 4).
When Oloisudori visits, Kaelo stands in order to please him. (p.177). He seems to be worshipping riches and wealth.
He is hurt because Simiren is more appreciated and considered as the cultural leader of the Kaelo’s (p.9).
Ole Supeyo trusts him. He would entrust him to count his money (p.4). Milanoi’s parents find him a dependable protector (p.29).
He is well versed with the murky business of the underworld. (p.23). He is about to sign a four-year’s contract with the government through the help of the corrupt Oloisudori (p.25).
Mama Milanoi expresses this fact on (p.29) in a flashback. He planned homecoming ceremony meticulously (p.37). He tells Joseph that he had planned his future life when he was young (p.70).
Mama Milanoi attests to the fact that Kaelo is responsible (p.28). She says since he married her he has always provided for the family.
Mama Milanoi confirms this trait (p.29). He calls her ‘Lanoo-ai-nayorr” an intimate expression (p.30). Taiyo is his favorite daughter (p.111).
The role of Kaelo is to anchor the themes of patriarchy, culture, FGM, greed among others. He is useful in development of other characters especially Taiyo, Resian, Mama Milanoi and Oloisudori. The writer uses him to create flashbacks and his retrenchment helps in developing the novel’s plot.
She is sister to Resian and daughter to Kaelo and Mama Milanoi.
She understands her father well (p.1). For example she knows when he is not in the right mood to be spoken to. She knows he does not like having his plans delayed. She observes intelligently that “culture and traditions are never static but by being dynamic, culture sheds off aspects that are irrelevant” (p.127).
She sympathizes with the loaders who are receiving stern instructions from Kaelo her father. (p.1) She had made it her duty to mop her young sister’s tears, sooth her anger and gently reassure her when shaken (p.34). At the homecoming ceremony she sympathizes with the old man who struggles with meat with little success (p.50). She later comes to know he is Ole Musanka, a religious leader. She brings alternative soft food to him.
To the knobkerrie carrying young man she demands. “Let go of my hand.” She vows to fight F.G.M even when Nasila culture and her father promote it (p.88). She declares openly to Joseph that she has fallen in love with him. “She does not give a hoot about it.” (p.129). She boldly visits Joseph’s house even when it is a risky affair (p.130). She thinks boldly that their relationship with Joseph must remain even if it means relocating to Tanzania and becoming people of undefined culture (p.136). The attack by callous young men strengthens her resolve (p.143).
She loves Joseph. This is even after being warned against having a relationship with him by the father (p.71). She is infatuated and makes him a confidante. She says “If by loving you I offend the sensibilities of Nasila then let me offend them and face the consequences of doing so.” (p.133). She sacrifices to go and see Resian so that Resian may eat when her mother lies to her that Resian has gone on a hunger strike (p.272).
At the time they are leaving Nakuru for Nasila, Taiyo sheds tears (p.6, p.2). This shows the intimate relationship she has had with this town. She is not ready to let go of the town. She could also be afraid of relocating to a rural town. She is not willing to part with her boyfriend from Nakuru, Lenjir (p.3). When she realizes her relationship with Joseph Parmuat is highly hindered by traditions, she weeps herself dry (p.56).
She holds Resian’s cheek and registers that she has been devoted to her sister since they were in nursery school (p.34). She takes a lot of time before broaching the issue of going to university for she seeks an apt opportunity (p.54). Kaelo tells Joseph that the girls are intelligent but require cultural studies (p.70). She responsibly and carefully prepares delicious meals (p.75). She advises Joseph that they keep a clandestine relationship and then reveal it later so as not to hurt Papaai (p.134). She advises Resian not to be left alone in the house with Oloisudori (p.197).
She feels estranged for she has never visited Nasila before in her lifetime therefore she lacks basics of Nasila culture (p.70). She chooses to fall in love with Joseph even when the culture does not allow. This is because she is ignorant and alienated of the culture. She finds it hard to cope with Nasila culture at first. During the dance she takes a lot of time watching for she has no dancing skills of Nasila dances. She has to be trained traditional dances and culture by Joseph.
She stubbornly puts up a spirited struggle but later the battle is lost. This is when she insists on attending an extravaganza at Mombasa but her father denies her permission (p.2). She stubbornly falls in love with Joseph (p.133).
While in Nakuru, with Resian they always stand at the window every Sunday before they go to church (p.2). With Resian, they discuss petty issues like they observe that two out of four aunts are pregnant (p.18).Together with Resian they mingle with women folk and girls of Nasila and learn a lot (p.36).
She hopes that the new shop will succeed. She says Nasila is an Agricultural area and fertilizer and other inputs will be in high demand (p.4). She hopes one day they will go to Egerton University (p.4).
She tells the young man who accosts them “We are not the kind of women you have in mind.” (p.19). With Resian, while in the ranch they declare never to be subservient to their male counterparts (P.277).
On arriving in their new house at Nasila, Taiyo works to exhaustion even when Resian is just reading books (p.32).
With Resian, they adapt to Nasila’s lifestyle and easily get used to welcoming impromptu visitors like Olarinkoi (p.35).
Her role in the novel in the novel is essential in developing the character of Resian. It is through her that we understand the character of Resian as assertive and committed to female empowerment.
She is sister to Taiyo and daughter to Kaelo and Mama Milanoi.
She inquisitively questions the chances of her father’s new shop picking up (p.3).She questions on the rivalry and apprehension between the four houses of her uncle. (p.16). She interrogates and observes that Kaelo’s cheerfulness has decreased after meeting Oloisudori (p.120). She questions Olarinkoi’s sincerity about taking her to the ranch (p.217).
She questions why her father sought Joseph to be their teacher of culture “Why not a girl” (p.73). She observes that the arrangement is favoring men. That Joseph is to prepare them to be suitable wives to their husbands (p.73). When mother tries to explain FGM to her, she dismisses it as a myth created by men to oppress women (p.90). She critically observes FGM to be useless in the current times (p.91). She fails to see any difference between the ancient Ilarinkon from the current Ilarinkon (p.91). She questions the intruding tendency by Nasilan’s into their house (p.91). She initially questions the significance of Kaelo – Oloisudori relationship (p.98).
Firm/ Determined/ Resolute
Even when told of their new shop she clearly says she does not want to work in the shop but to go to Egerton University. She does not just want to go to a university but Egerton University where she will take veterinary science and become a veterinary doctor (p.4). When she is told by Taiyo that she will have a right to have as many children as she wishes she answers immediately saying, “I don’t want to be a parent. At least not in the foreseeable future (p.18). She adds, “I want to study.” She resolves to face the callous Oloisudori firmly (p.200). Even when she is beaten and denied a chance to join University by her father, she does not lose hope but still focuses on going to the university (p.211).She reminds herself when the lorry breaks down before reaching the ranch that she will not allow other people to sway her from her charted course (p.256). It should be noted that Resian’s decision to go to Egerton University began when with Taiyo and her father visited agricultural show. From that time she stuck to the goal till came to fruition.
On reaching Nasila, with Taiyo they manage to walk around even when they are not familiar with the environment (p.17). She asks her mother directly into her eyes, ‘what is the purpose of FGM today?” (p.90). She openly and boldly says she will not allow early marriage to occur in her life (p.129). She does not easily agree when told by her father that she is to wait for Oloisudori and three guests to cook for them (p.171). She comes up with a risky plan of humiliating Oloisudori (p.195). She is most attracted to bold personalities like Minik and Prof. Wangari Maathai (p.250). Nabaru confirms to us that Resian is a brave girl (p.253). Resian inspires the old lady Nabaru with her boldness so that she walks a long distance to organize for a lorry to take them to the ranch. Dr. Minik congratulates Resian for being firm and boldly resisting FGM (p.264).
When they are accosted with Taiyo by knobkerrie welding young man she hisses, “Leave my sister alone.” (p.19). She strongly declares that she would rather live in the noisiest place than near a vagabond with intention of mutilating her (p.33). She feels Joseph’s lessons are taking her to the Stone Age era (p.72). She detests Joseph’s teachings on culture and insists she will be taught universal content at the university (p.73). Mama Milanoi thinks of her as a hard nut to crack for she knew her rights (p.118). She knows Oloisudori will not have a walkover on the issue of marriage (p.118). She observes that Nasila culture must soon shed off F.G.M and assertively notes that there are no two ways about it” (p.128).
She bites the thumb of Olarinkoi when he attempts to rape her (p.22). In a dream, she tells the old enkamuratani that she will never circumcise again. She twists her hand that is holding the Olmurunya mercilessly (p.245). She descends on the mono eyed witch like a ferocious leopard and disfigures her face. She batters her mono eye (p.245). Resian hits the witch on the head like a snake. The witch sprawls flat on the ground (p.245). All these happen in a dream.
She instinctively detects the absence of love from her father. She grows sullen, bewildered and resentful (p.10). She resents Oloisudori’s ill-motive and therefore tells him off when he visits and insists that she should serve him (p.205). She resentfully asks what is wrong with being born a woman. (p.205). She contemplates suicide after her plan to go to the university is cancelled by her father (p.210).
When she becomes clumsy and almost breaks the glass she apologizes to her father (p.40). When chided by her mother against using rude words towards Oloisudori and yeiyo-botorr, she apologizes (p.94). When she learns Oloisudori is heart she says sorry (P.95).
She has a dream of being called Dr. Resian Kaelo (P.94). She is always reading books so as to keep her ambition alive (p.135). When Kaelo tells her with finality that she is not joining university, she screams like one possessed with demented spirits (p.209).
She observes that her uncle’s four houses have rivalry and apprehension amongst themselves. She observes that two of the four aunts are pregnant (p.18). She interestingly observes that there is always a scramble for girls to marry in Nasila (p.128). She observes that the doors are well locked (p.138). Lastly, she observes that the term children always referred to girls in the Maa culture (p.175).
At time she lacks hope. This is partly contributed by her father who disliked her right from her birth. Mama Milanoi observes that Resian is in a pessimistic mood most of the times (p.29). She hopes for the worst in their new house and requests Taiyo to plead with father so that they can go to university for studies and security (p.33).
She persuades Taiyo to plead with Kaelo her father to take them for university studies (p.5).
She does not change her stand. She always asks Taiyo whether she has talked to father about their university education (p.89). She persuades the young man accosting them not to harm them, (Taiyo & Resian) (p.18).
“Wiser indeed!” jeered Resian. (P.72).She mocks her father’s words that Joseph will teach them. When asked by her father why she has left her guest (Oloisudori) alone in the house, she sarcastically answers, “I left him at home enjoying his tea and pancakes” (p.206).
She fears Taiyo’s attraction to Joseph may lower her attention to her (Resian) (p.49). She declares to hate anyone who comes in between her and her sister (p.49). She is not ready to be abandoned by Taiyo as she falls in love with Joseph (p.72).
In their new house, even when there are many duties to be done, she chooses to read a book (p.32). She tosses into the bed and declares that, “my body belongs to me.’ (p.33). Kaelo comments that she is lazy like an overfed lizard after comparing her with the industrious Taiyo (p.64).
She said in a defiant voice that she has no problem with adding knowledge but not traditional knowledge (p.76). Resian does not wish to please male counterparts (p.77). She is mad at Olarinkoi who is always doing nothing in the house (p.77).
She constantly hopes that one day she will join university (p.89). She imagines herself already admitted at the university and walking majestically (p.89).
She agrees that they should not inform the father about the incident when they are accosted by a callous young man (p.20).
Resian’s role in the novel as a protagonist is critical. The author uses her to drive central themes like FGM, female assertiveness and determination. She compliments Taiyo her elder sister and a confidante. She also immensely develops dialogue as a style as well as the plot of the novel.
Mama Jane Milanoi
She is the wife to Kaelo and mother to Taiyo and Resian.
She says she did not resist Kaelo’s marriage for traditions did not allow any resistance (p.2). She prays God to open her womb so that she can bear a son for Kaelo (p.29). When she is taken to her new house she exclaims, “Father of all creation!” (p.30). When Taiyo requests her to allow Joseph Parmuat to come and coach her on traditional dances, she fears saying “that’s your father’s territory.” (p.56). She fears to broach the subject of circumcision of her daughters. (p.61). She is disturbed by Resian when she (Resian) uses harsh words on Oloisudori (p.94).She knows very little about her husband for he is a man (p.95). She honors her husband’s visitor and his friends (p.179). She burns rice as she is afraid of Kaelo after Oloisudori has just left (p.104).
Before embarking on their journey to Nasila, she leads in prayers. Kaelo first spotted her at a church service at Nasila (p.9). She is to join women in ancestral prayers and songs of praise, a prayer for exhorting God to open women’s wombs so that she can bear a son for Kaelo (p.29).
She cautions Taiyo and Resian against strangers who might take advantage of their unfamiliarity with Nasila. (p.17). She wishes to care for her children although she fears Nasila people for their intolerance (p.30). She is torn between her love for Nasila culture and that for her daughters as well as her dutiful role of a faithful and obedient wife. (p.61). That is why she takes the subject of FGM cautiously.
She loves and cares for her daughters. She is worried by the FGM that is to be conducted on them (p.61). On learning that Oloisudori intends to marry one of her daughters she cries with pain. (p.113). Like a woman in labour, the story about selling Resian to Oloisudori highly hurts her (p.193).
She avoids the girls’ demand to be taken to university (p.8). Even when the girls make this request she lingers.
Mama Milanoi as a character is important in addressing the issue of women subjugation by men in the patriarchal Maa community. The novelist uses her to demonstrate how women occupy a lowly position in the family. Dialogue and flashback as stylistic devices are used by the novelist through her. She is also used to address the issue of religion in the novel.
Her daughters expect her to voice their requests to their strict father but she disappoints them on the issue. The girls also expect the mother to side with them on the idea of FGM so that they do not undergo the cut but instead she supports their circumcision and keeps quiet about the arranged marriage of her daughters and Oloisudori even when she notes the gender disparity and the girls’ relentless desire to acquire university education.
Uncle Simiren Kaelo
He is the younger brother to Kaelo, uncle to Taiyo and Resian and brother in-law to Mama Milanoi.
For thirty years, Parsimei Ole Kaelo has been away and during this time Simiren has acted as the head of the Kaelo family (p.11). “He ran all kinds of errands for his brother” (p.12). He purchases livestock for him (p.12). He also sells cattle for him (p.12). He participates in the construction of Kaelo’s two buildings (p.12). He always passes any critical information to him and keeps him updated on what is happening in Nasila. An apt example is when elders show displeasure in his monogamous state (p.13).
“There had never been any rivalry between him and his brother ever since they were young” (p.12). He has always accepted his position to be subordinate (p. 12). Even when he has four wives and sixteen children while his brother has only one wife and two children he remains humble (p.12). When Ole Kaelo returns to Nasila, he humbly expects that Kaelo will take up his role as the eldest brother (p.12) When Kaelo gets enraged after he(Simiren) relays elders’ concerns to him(Kaelo) on their stand on polygamy, he does not argue with his brother (p.13).
He jovially welcomes the Kaelo’s; his brother’s family, back home from Nakuru where they have stayed for around thirty years.
He represents his brother during ritual and practices such as girls’ initiation, boys’ circumcision etc. (p.11, 12).
The novelist uses Simiren to show the positive aspects of the Maa culture. Humility, generosity, responsibility and hospitality are emphasized. He makes it possible for Kaelo to have a smooth transition to Nasila before and during the migration.
She is the first wife of Simiren, and aunt to Taiyo and Resian. She is accorded more roles in the family and has an obligation of leading the co-wives. In Simiren’s house, she is the eldest wife of the four wives.
She thinks of Resian as a mad girl when she speaks ill about the lazy Olarinkoi. She cannot bear an argument about female freedom and assertiveness (P.77). She believes Resian has a bad spirit because she is not circumcised (p.78).Yeiyo-botorr is used by the novelist to lay ground for polygamy in a Maa family. She is used to show cohesion in a traditional polygamous family.
She introduces the other women to visitors (p.16).
When she finds Taiyo and Resian doing house chores she genuinely praises them (p.76).
Soin Ole Supey
He is a respected elder of Ilmolelian clan, a longtime friend to Ole Kaelo as well as his mentor.
He honestly tells Ole Kaelo how much corrupt Oloisudori is and warns him sarcastically against him (p.26). He advises Kaelo to be careful with Oloisudori (p.26). He also warns Kaelo against Oloisudori’s immoral behavior by telling him to ensure he keeps his daughters away from him (p.26).
He uses sarcastic remarks on Kaelo aiming at hurting him. “Supeyo said, scornful smile twisting his lips.” (P.26)
Emakererei/ Minik ene Nkoitoi
She is a doctor of veterinary science, manager of a big ranch and a crusader against FGM. She is the mentor to Taiyo and Resian. She is the manager of a ranch and a veterinary expert.
Though she is hated very much in Nasila, she champions freedom of females and crusades against F.G.M and early marriages (p.62. She boldly tells Oloisudori that none of the girls would leave the ranch (p.283). She looks boldly into Oloisudori’s eyes (p.283).She visits Ole Supeyo’s homestead to persuade him not to circumcise his daughter (p.22).She orders Oloisudori to leave the ranch for his own safety and the safety of his expensive machines (p.283). She refuse to comply with his demand to be given either Resian or Taiyo.
She orders the driver to take delivery notes to the office (p.254). Resian observes that Dr. Minik Nkoitoi has an authoritative aura like of a principal in a high school (p.259). She authoritatively makes it clear that Oloisudori and his group did not have a right to receive any invitation letter to the party (p.282). She advises Oloisudori to leave the ranch in an angry tone (p.283).
She helps Resian and Taiyo get admission letters to Egerton University. She gives Resian a house and a job in the Ranch and saves Taiyo from her circumcisers. She holds a party for the two girls before they go to the university (p.280).
Mama Milanoi says she had gone to Makerere University in Uganda (p.61). She manages a vast ranch which requires a lot of expertise.
She holds Resian on her shoulder and speaks to her calmly (p.259). She chooses to address Nabaru instead of Resian directly. (p.262). She develops a warm relationship with Resian (p.267).
She convinces Nabaru that FGM is wasteful to females and Nabaru changes her position towards FGM (p.263).
She feels sad when she sees a traumatized girl; she feels bitter bile sizzle inside herself and burn in her heart (p.269).
The narrator comments about her courteous character when she calls the girls for the admission letters (p.279).
Minik is important to the novel for she is the agent of education, female empowerment as well as crusader of women freedom. Without her, the novelist cannot address the central issue of FGM in the novel. The last section of the novel takes place at the ranch and therefore she contributes significantly to plot development.
Edward Oloisudori Loonkiyaa
He is a close friend to Ole Kaelo and a jack of all trades.
Supeyo warns Kaelo to keep his daughters away from him terming him as a randy he goat. His initial plan was to extort Kaelo but on noticing the two girls he changes his mind. (p.112). Resian certainly felt the fingers of his lifted hand graze the fullness of her breast (p.93). While in Kaelo’s house, Oloisudori’s eyes drop from face to Resian’s bosom (p.203). Kaelo is advised to keep off his daughters from him.
He brings gifts to the girls without telling them he is also paying their dowry (p.179). He entices Resian and Taiyo’s parents by taking them for a visit in his own homestead (p. 186). Ole Kaelo had even earlier reported to Oloisudori that girls are reporting at the University but instead he plans to marry them (p.187). He ensnares Taiyo and Resian like antelopes (p.192). He schemes a plan of grabbing Resian to be his wife (p.200).
Supeyo states clearly that Oloisudori’s corrupt nature is known by everybody in Nasila. Joseph refers to him as a monster (p.100). He also describes him as a shadowy figure (p.100) and extortionist (p.101). He takes part in hunting elephants and rhinos (p.236).
He authoritatively asks where Kaelo is (p.92). He authoritatively states that Resian is his wife (p.204) and that only death can part them (p.204).
He tells Kaelo, that he is interested in his girl, Resian and his friend is interested in Taiyo bluntly (p.110). He instructs that only Resian should cook for him and three guests (p.69). He tells Kaelo, “I would like to relieve you of your two daughters (p.110).
When Resian tells him off he laughs sadistically. (P.205). Resian tells Oloisudori that he is stark mad for thinking she is her wife. In response to this, Oloisudori laughs softly. This shows he derives pleasure from her displeasure.
Oloisudori is essential in the novel for he helps in creation of the theme of materialism / greed. The author uses him to create irony as a stylistic device.
He is a teacher in primary school and trainer of Taiyo and Resian on traditional dances. He is in love with Taiyo but traditions restrain the relationship.
He openly tells Taiyo and Resian that he will join them to fight FGM even when the environment is not friendly (p.88). He describes himself as a fish that had jumped out of water… on verge of death” This is when his relationship with Taiyo inclines to intimacy (p.136).
Mama Milanoi corrects Kaelo’s thinking by informing him that Joseph is the finest and dependable young man of Nasila (p.48). She does not disappoint Taiyo’s parents (p.132).
On meeting Taiyo, he falls in love with her. He promises to visit her the following day and also coach her on traditional dance if allowed by Taiyo’s father.
In dealing with Kaelo’s two girls, he is cautious of Nasila culture and respects his parents. (p.122). He is alert so that with Taiyo they do not begin a clandestine relationship (p.123). He fears the condition of Intoiye nemengalana in the girls. He cautiously weighs whether to fall in love with Taiyo and break his cultural law (p.137). He fears that the uncircumcised Taiyo may be wild and untamable.
While dealing with Taiyo he always ensures that Resian is available (p.124). He follows Kaelo closely to ensure the old man was safe during the errands of pursuing his girls’ molesters (p.159). He helps in the rescue of Taiyo from her circumcisers although he dies by being speared to death in the process.
He observes that Maa culture has already shed off some traditional practices like throwing of the dead and the dying to hyenas, abandoning very old and terminally ill people to animals.” (p.128). He observes how Nasila culture is violent once its sensibilities are violated (p.132).
Although there is a strong wave of marrying Taiyo who is uncircumcised, he sticks to his culture. He strongly feels that “Nasila culture was the father and mother that nurtured.” (p.137). in this case he views the culture as that which nourishes the members of the community. He resolves to decline her love (p.136).
In his house shelves are neatly packed with books. (P.131). He is a primary school teacher in Maasai land, an area with low education index.
Joseph Parmuat’s role is important in the novel. The novelist uses him to anchor the theme of culture. He also helps in the emancipation of women through his sacrifice towards Taiyo’s education.
Old Ole Musanka
He is the old man who leads in blessing ceremony of Kaelo’s during the homecoming ceremony.
He leads in blessings of the religious section of the Kaelo’s homecoming function (p.51). He blesses Taiyo and prophetically says she will be a mother of the next leader of Nasila (p.52).
He uses proverbs in his conversations. He describes Kaelo as a tiny strand of hair that had been blown to show the insignificance of Kaelo compared to Maa culture (p.51). He interprets Maa culture to the crowd (p.52). “Home is Maa, Home is Nasila, home is family and home is children” (p.52).
He warns Taiyo and Resian not to follow the teachings of Emakererei. He curses Emakererei the wasp, “may she go down with the setting sun!” (p.52).Ole Musanka is an important character in reinforcing the theme of religion as well as culture. His age and position as an elder as well as a prophet make him stand a better position in religion and culture. He also signals future and hope in Taiyo through his prophecy.
He advises Maa elders to cut loose the strings of alien culture from Ole Kaelo (p.52).
He is the young Maasai man who stays at Kaelo’s home. He is a suspicious character and through him the novelist employs suspense.
He intrudes into the affairs of the girls while in the house of Ole Kaelo (p.74). He is not known by the Kaelo’s yet he keeps coming to Kaelo’s house.
He directs his attention to the girl’s parents and not the girls (p.75). While escaping with Resian, they travel for a very long distance in silence (p.127).
He is always dozing off at the sitting room or idling somewhere else (p.77). He does not bathe and stinks terribly (p.240).
He occasionally brings bundles of food to Kaelo’s (P.79). He knows the prophesy which states that he should marry Resian and keeps quiet about it as he waits for the opportune time. Protective
He protects Resian from committing suicide after her father beats her and denies her a chance to go for University studies (p.210). He rescues the girls from molestation by two young men
Joseph says Olarinkoi is a mystery (p.80) and only four men know about him. But the four always contradict in their facts about him (p.81).For example one says that he comes from Polonga, 200 kilometers from Nasila (p.80).
He uses caustic language (p.211). He uses very abusive language on Resian even after she is emotionally unstable (p.217). He calls Nabaru a filthy woman for escaping with Resian (p.249).
On the day he abducts Resian, he goes drinking and comes late in the night kicking the door roughly (p.221).
He rapes Resian while drunk (p.221). He promises to do something nasty to Nabaru in case she returns after taking Resian to the ranch. (p.249). He strongly believes that Nabaru and Resian will be followed by a curse (p.249).
Olarinkoi is important as far as suspense is concerned. The author uses him to create suspense. He is used in the development of F.G.M as a theme as well as exploring the theme of violence.
She is the old woman who takes care of Resian after she regains her consciousness after the rape ordeal done by Olarinkoi.
She encourages and cares for Resian until she regains her health (p.225). She promises to give Resian account of what transpired when she lost her memory (p.231). She is the enkabaani who informs Resian of great secrets and even the prophecy (p.232). She saves the life of Resian. (p.236). She also becomes her confidant (p.237) so that the two share a great deal.
She travels a long distance in a rough terrain at night to search for a lorry to ferry Resian to the ranch (p.253).
She thinks it is none of enkoiboni’s business to want to circumcise Resian while her parents were still alive (p.238). Her role is vital in showing the possibility of a female helping a fellow female in overcoming challenges of FGM. The author uses her to develop dialogue as a major stylistic device in the novel.
She is the old woman prophetess/enkoiboni
She looks like a witch and has ill motives (p.227). She has a single, red rimmed eye that resembled a monster which is partly stone and partly human (p.227).
She shows mockery and disregard to Resian. She abuses her for biting her son’s thumb. She calls her names for being uncircumcised. She says Resian is not yet a woman because she is not circumcised (p.228). She shamelessly uncovers Resian’s stomach to check whether she is pregnant (p.235).
She remarks sarcastically, “We have been trying to feed you from your bed with a silver spoon.” This is not true for Resian was always treated roughly by the witch. (p.228). She laughs sarcastically. She mocks her for her father has money (p.228).
She has contempt for the rich corrupt people in the society (p.236). She feels political leaders and wealthy people in the country are responsible for the unequal distribution of resources.
In the novel, she represents women who are responsible for being stumbling blocks to their fellow women in the society. She is used by the writer to bring out the theme of women as enemies of themselves.
Lebutu/ Lorry Driver
He politely asks for more work from Dr. Minik (p.254). On their way to the ranch he uses polite language to address the two ladies. He is contrasted with the other driver who drives a pick up earlier in the novel carrying Olarinkoi.
The River Between
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