THE BLACK HERMIT

AUTHOR: NGUGI WA THIONG'O

SETTING: POST-INDEPENDENCE AFRICAN SOCIETY

PUBLISHER: EAST AFRICAN EDUCATIONAL PUBLISHERS

YEAR: 1968

INTRODUCTION

The play was first produced by the Makerere College students‘ dramatic society at Uganda national theatre in November 1962 when the East African countries attained independence.By then tribalism was the biggest problem facing the New East African countries. So the drama shows people were against those humiliations hence they had to expose and root out the effect of tribalism, racism and religious functions.

CHARACTER AND CHARACTERIZATION REMI

•He is the main character of the play  He is the son of Ngome and Nyobi.

•He is the only one at University from Marua tribe.

•He has changed his behavior since he went to University and knows girls in the city but at the beginning, while in the village he was a God fearing child and shy with girls.

•When he reaches University he leaves religious affairs and becomes a politician. He joined the Nationalist party. He has a friend Omange who discusses politics with him and has a girlfriend called Jane in the city who spend nights with him in clubs

OMANGE

•He is the friend of Remi in the city

•He is from another tribe

•He is wise and aware of racism, tribalism and religious conflicts.

•He wants the state to act by allowing the trade union to have rights to strike.

•He blames Remi for not giving a chance to Thoni to express her feelings.

NYOBI

•She is the mother of Remi and In -law to Thoni.

•Her husband Ngome died of shock following the death of Remi‘s brother who was once married to Thoni.

•She represents a woman who cares so much about the well being of her family. She is a Christian but not a strong one due to her beliefs in the elders of Marua tribe.

THONI

•She is the most beautiful and strongest girl in the Marua tribe.

•She was a girl admired by Remi though she did not know whether Remi loves her.

•She was ready to marry Remi when her husband passed away.

•The weakness of Thoni becomes a problem when Remi disgraced her in public and she decides to kill herself by committing suicide.

JANE

•She is Remi‘s white girlfriend in the city.

•She loves Remi but she was not aware that Remi has a wife back in the village.

•She is ready to live with Remi despite his race.

•She called Remi a weak man and told him to go back to his tribe

•She is a strong woman because when she notices that Remi has a wife, she decides to leave him but not to commit suicide as Thoni.

PASTOR

•He is a strong Christian. He influences Remi to be a God fearing child. He is also unhappy with Remi‘s disappearance into the city.

•He does not want Remi to join politics and he is strongly against traditional beliefs.

•He blames Remi for causing disunity among Christians and isolating himself from the community.

LEADERS VERSUS ELDERS

•They wanted Remi to come back to the village and they followed him to town and convinced him to turn back home.

•They don‘t believe in Christianity but trust Marua‘s traditional medicine.

WOMAN

•She is from Marua tribe. She loves Thoni and takes time to exchange ideas with her.

•She advises Thoni to be calm to wait for Remi. She cooperates in looking for Thoni when she disappears.

The Form in the Black Hermit THEMES

CONFLICT:The playwright shows that Remi was in conflict with his community since he ran away from them and became the black hermit in the city. The conflict also occurred between Jane and Remi. Jane did not like whenRemi prohibited her from going with her to his village. She felt that she lost her time to love someone who had a wife in the village. RemiversushisMother;Remiwas in conflict with his mother since her mother wanted him to marry the village girl,Thoni. This created misunderstanding between them. RemiversusJane;There was a conflict between those two whenRemiwanted to go back to the village without Jane. Jane became furious sinceRemihas wasted her time lying to her they could marry whileRemihas wife back to the village. Between Elders and Pastor as well as all Christians;The conflicts were due to other people to believe in superstition while others believed in one true God. The pastor wanted Remi back home to lead the church whileRemion the other hand wanted to be a politician in order to unite his people through Africanist party. Remi versushistribe members; The Marua people trusted Remi to serve the tribe. Instead of serving the tribe, Remi wants to unite all people and bring unity among all tribes. He shows example to his people by showing them the love he had to hisfriend(Omange) who was from a different tribe. Remi versus Omange; The misunderstanding between them was due to Remi‗s attitude of supporting people not to fight in strike and demand for their rights while Omange was against, so he says a trade union without the right to strike is like a lion without claws and teeth.

RELIGION: Some people are traditionalist like the elders who believe in magic power .Others are Christians as Remisince their childhood. He believes and fears God, and his family are Christians. The Christians and the traditionalists differ in attitude and their ways of worship.

RESPONSIBILITY:The author insists on the need of being responsible in the society so as to be able to face challenges and problems .He advises that a person is not supposed to run away from his responsibility .You need to solve it as Remi supposed to take care of her mother and his wife and the village but not run away from them, that shows his weakness. So Remi ought to stay in the society and face the problem and solve them.

SELF AWARENESS AND PERSONALITY:The author shows that the changing of the personality and awareness of Remi was the result of being young and educated. Remi was a good boy and God fearing but when he grew up and studied at the University, he did not fear God but went against and lived his life with luxurious life in the city. And when Remi was at the village he was shy with girls, but when he went to the city he did not have the habit of shyness but he was the one who own girls, Jane been a good example of girls he spent with her nights in the night clubs.

BUILDING THE FUTURE:The author shows that Remi struggled to bring changes in the country. He wanted people to develop and be free from racism and tribalism. So Remi finds that in order to develop, people should start working in unity. The tribe sent Remi to study at University so as to help them in future. The tribe believed that true education could only be achieved through education.

LEADERSHIP:The author portrayed the aspect of leadership as we can see in the play .Remi presents the marua tribe and people believe on him and keep trust on Remi. They believed that Remi will do away with tribalism, racism and religious isolation. So the people do not like pastor and elders since they bring religious isolation by despising traditional beliefs that bring disunity among themselves.

DISUNITY: The problem was that people were not united due to their differences in beliefs. Others were Christians and others believed in magic power. So this brings disunity among people. So people need to be together and cooperate and fight for their rights and freedom, away from racism, tribalism and religious isolation.

MARRIAGE ISSUES: According to Marua tribe, one can inherit the wife of his brother. Remi is told by his family and the elders to marry Thoni, his brother‘s widow. He tells his friend Omange about what his father has told him ‗‘He called me in his bed and said ‗Remi you know our custom .Your brother‘s wife is now your wife ‗‘Remi refused to marry her so he ran to the city, that is why he became the hermit.

SUPERSTITIOUS BELIEFS:People ofMarua tribe believed in mountains ,so we can see elders in Marua used medicine that can change Remi‘s mind and decide to go back to the village .We see one elder carry a bundle of medicine wrapped in banana leaf, on leaving the house he leaves at door way .And the elder told Nyobi that his son has been bewitched by their neighbours because of jealous. They tell that they are not pleased with the success of Remi, so that shows that they believe in superstition.

RELEVANCE OF THE PLAYTO THE SOCIETY

This play was first produced by the Makerere college students Dramatic society at the Uganda National Theatre in November1962 whenthe EastAfrican countries had attained independence.

So by then ,tribalism andracism was the most thing practiced in our society .Until today there are other African countries such as Kenya, tribalism continue till now .The Kikuyu and Luo always fight in Kenya. In South Africa, they practiced racism in some areas where there were streets of white people and black people, but generally, people need to be free from tribalism. So the author has played his role by giving message to the people who need to be free from tribalism.

MESSAGE

•Political consciousness has vital role of any political development. This shows that people need to be united so that they can change and bring development to the country so it shows that development cannot happen overnight, so people need to plan and practice in order to overcome problem and bring changes.

•Unity is essential thing to any revolution (struggle) and changes to our society. So people need to be together and cooperate so that they work together and bring development.

•We must sacrifice in order to eliminate oppression .This shows that Remi sacrificed himself in order to overcome the problem of racism, tribalism and religious matters so that people could unite together and bring changes in their country.

LANGUAGE USE: The author used simple language and symbolic language but well understood.

REVISION QUESTIONS

Qn.1 "Literature as a mirror reflects the culture of a particular society". Justify this statement by using the play that you have read.

Answer

Its true that, literature as a mirror reflects the culture of a particular society. This cab be justified by a book of THE BLACK HERMIT By NGUGI WA THIONG'O As follows:-

 Widow inheritance, Remi was forced to marry thoni who was his late brothers wife. This happened soon after the death  of Remi’s brother.

Superstition, people in Marua are superstitious they believe in a local medicine  given to them by a diviner that it will perfom miracles and bring Remi back to the village.

Tribalism. People of marua tribe are tribalistic they wants Remi to come and form a tribal political party which is going to favour  the interest of the tribe, also Remi failed to many Jane and take her to the village because she is a white girl.

Qn. 2 Choose any  character from any readings and describe  by showing how  succeeded to solve their problems. 

Ans.

A character is a figure in a story used by the author to convey his/her message to the readers. By their moral conducts, characters normally represent beliefs, habits, attitudes, morals, choices and motivations which distinguish one person from another. Different artists through their works employ characters to show how they have succeeded or failed to solve their problems. In response to this question we are going to show how different characters have succeeded in solving Vårious problems they encountered in their respective positions.

 To justify the above statement The book Of  "The Black Hermit" by Ngugi Wa Thiong'o will be used. 

The author, uses Remi to depict how he succeeded in solving various problems of his society as follows:-

His fight against tribalism: Remi comes back to his village with Omange - a man from another tribe called Njobe. They link their hands and he introduces him as "My brother and yours'.' He then tells them how to work together despite their tribal differences. He says,

"We must help ourselves  . . . . . . . Turn to our hearts and mind to create a nation, then will tribe and race disappear. And man shall be free".

This is an important step that Remi makes in fighting tribalism.

Fight against religious hypocrisy: It is depicted through the Pastor as a Christian leader who segregates his people with the rest of the society. Remi is bold enough to face him and says,

 "And you, Pastor. You and other Christians must not live isolated, we must link our hands; build a house which you and I and all our people can live in peace, cultivating the riches ofour hearts'!

 Very few people in the society we live are that confident to criticize religious leaders like Remi and by doing so he helps to build a society that is united.

His refusal to follow bad traditions: Remi refused to marry Thoni - his late brother's wife, as it is a bad tradition of the Marua tribe. This is seen when he tells his friend Omange,

"He called me to his bed and said; Remi you know our custom. Your Brother's wife is nowyour wife' I refused to marry her"

This shows Remi's level of awareness since he knew it was not proper to inherit someone's wife.

 Love and respect: Remi shows love and respect for his people by accepting to go back to his people after his long stay in town even leaving his job and his girlfriend - Jane. This can be seen when Remi says,

"I must rise and go to the village. For I must serve our people, save them from the poor traditions and customs, free them from tribal manacles now'!

This shows that he respects his elders and religious leaders and sees the need of using his education and his leadership ability for the benefit of his people and he realized that he did something bad to run away from his society and its problems.

Getting education: Remi goes to school, studies and completes his education without a mess and earns a job in an Oil Company. His job enables him to survive in town and his education enables him to understand well various issues that his society fail to understand. Here education enabled him to solve the problem of illiteracy and unemployment which are common in most of our societies.

 Unity: Remi works to bring unity among the people in his society despite their differences. This is evident when he blames the Pastor for causing disunity among the people and his church. He tells him to stop isolating himself and Christians from other people in the society. He tells him,

"And you Pastor, You and other Christians must not live isolated. We must link our hands ......"

 He also urges his people to unite to be one thing and work together diligently so that they can attain their goals. Remi says,

 "We must help ourselves ...... Turn to our hearts and minds to create a nation, then will tribe and race disappear. And man shall be free ......"

Remi believes that unity is a tool of attaining development.

In conclusion, it is important for every member of the society to contribute in solving problems facing them and the society in which they live in order to bring development for themselves as we have seen from Remi.

Qn.3 Explain how and why modern education and western civilization made the youth to alienate themselves from their traditional societies. 

Ans.

For several reasons, modern education and western civilization made youths to alienate themselves from their traditional societies in different ways.

In Play Of "The Black Hermit" by Ngugi wa Thiong'o  the author uses Remi to show how the education he acquired alienated him from the rest of the society in the following ways:

Freedom of expression: Remi, unlike other uneducated' people in the play like Thoni is bold enough to express himself even to his father and against the trqdition. One instance is when Remi tells Omange "I refused" to refer to how he refused his father's call to marry his late brother's wife. This action strains Remi's relationship with his society and alienates him from the society as he leaves his village for town.

Awareness of wrong traditions: Remi is alienated from his society for his rejection of wrong traditions like widow inheritance as well as from Christians by condemning the way they encourage disunity in the society. It is education and exposure which leads him to oppose these wrong practices

Religious hypocrisy: Remi's education makes him aware of the problem posed by religious hypocrisy perpetrated by religious leaders like the Pastor. On his return he urges the Pastor and other Christians to cooperate with the rest of the society for common good. He says, "Andyou pastor and other Christians must not live isolated".

Motivation for unity and cooperation: Remi's philosophy of unity and cooperation leads him to leave his village as the rest of the society does not fully understand it. Christians are segregating themselves against traditionalists while the latter are also segregating themselves against Christians and those who do not abide by the tradition. When Remi finally returns home, he emphasizes or nifiis important aspect, he says, "And you Pastor and other Christians must not live in isolation we must link our hands ..

Conclusively, Western education transformed the attitudes and beliefs of those who acquired it. This transformation coupled by the educated people's determination to pursue the new values acquired led to certain forms of alienation between them and their societies.

Qn.4. From the reading you have done, choose one character and show how his/her determination and effort helped to bring changes in their societies. 

Ans.

In the play of, "The Black Hermit" by Ngugi wa Thiongo , the charater will focus is Remi whose determination and efforts helped to bring changes in his society.

Fight against disunity and segregation: Remi disapproves tribalism once he realized that his people are separated. He shows this when he tells the pastor,

"Andyou Pastor, you and other Christians must not live isolated. We must link 7 our hands; build a house in which you and I and all our people can live in peace cultivating the riches of our hearts". He also tells his people: "We must help ourselves ...... turn to our hearts and minds to create a nation then will tribe and race disappear'.'

Through his determination, he manages to inspire his society to become a better one.

Fight against bad traditions: Remi is against bad beliefs such as that of inheriting a wife in Murua tribé. This can be seen when he tells his friend Omange,

"He called me to his bed and said, 'Remi you know our customs. Your brother's wife is nowyour wife'. I refused to marry herl'

To show his determination to fight this bad tradition, Remi flees his village for town and even later when he is pursued to come back, he keeps his stand.

Fight against tribalism: Remi is also totally against tribalism as it is practiced by his people. He considers all people equal. To emphasize this he goes home with his friend Omange who is from a different tribe and introduces him as "My brother andyours". He started blaming the elders and church leaders for being tribalistic and segregative.

Serving his society: To show his determination to serve his people, Remi accepts to lose all he had in town and go back to the village to work with his people. Back in the village, and despite many challenges, he is determined to build schools and hospitals for them.

In conclusion, for change to take place in any society it is very important for its members to be very determined, focused and strong in facing and confronting the hurdles they meet on their way. This is because, hurdles and challenges are always there but our efforts to overcome them is the real determinant to our success.

Qn. 5. Marriage is considered to be an important social obligation in the African societies. However it sometimes leads the concerned parties into frustration. How true is this statement? 

Ans.

Marriage is a social union and a life time relationship between a man and a woman that establishes rights and obligations of each of them in the family they create.

In African societies, marriage is considered as a very crucial stage in someone's life. However, in some cases marriage may lead to frustrations and misunderstandings among the parties concerned.

This statement can well be verified by the In the book Of  "The Black Hermit" by Ngugi Wa Thiong'o as follows:-

Conflict between a person and the society:According to the Marua tribe, one can inherit the wife of a brother. Remi is told by his family and elders to marry Thoni — his late brother's wife. This can be seen when he tells Omange about what his father told him,

"Remi,you know our custom. Your rother's wife is now your wife"

This tradition which Remi does not believe is right, leads to a conflict between him and his society which in the end leads Remi to flee to town.

Conflict between parties: In the play, Thoni is disappointed by the way Remi treats her. She hopes that after his return they will live happily as a married couple but this does not happen. As a result, Thoni is humiliated and decides to commit suicide believing that it would save her from the shame that has been caused by Remi.

Conflict between cultures: Education changes the learner's understanding of different issues. It is from the influence of education that Remi became aware of bad traditions and beliefs of his people such as widow inheritance. His determination to quickly change the tradition by rejecting those practices that he considered bad puts him on a collision course with the rest of the society which is still loyal to the old tradition. This results into conflict and misunderstanding between him, his family and the society at large.

In conclusion, apart from being a social obligation, and a valuable step in life, marriage process in most African societies may bring conflicts if not carefully implemented. In most cases the major source of conflict is a clash of cultures and attitudes between the parties concerned such as the society, the family and the couples.

Qn. 6. The mother is an important figure in the African family. With reference to texts you have read in this course show the role of the mother in her family.

Ans.

Mothers are important in any family as they play a key role in most issues affecting the well-being of all family members such as bringing-up children and providing them with basic support.  

This can be justified in the play Of "The Black Hermit" by Ngugi Wa Thiong'o we are introduced to Nyobi who is Remi's mother. She is an African mother who plays a major role in her family.

Taking care of children: She takes good care of Thoni' after the death of her husband. She also sympathizes with her and advises her to get married to another man and not to wait for Remi to come back. She once tells Thoni,

"Why can't you have another man instead of waiting for Remi to come 

Believing in God: Nyobi is a faithful Christian. This can be seen after Remi's disappearance when she consults the Pastor asking him to go and convince him to come back home. As a Christian she believes that God can do anything and most importantly through his servants like the Pastor. By believing in God, Nyobi leads by example those who look up to her as a mother or a leader.

Mediator and peace maker: Nyobi works hard and uses different means to try to bring her son Remi back home without using force or intimidation. She asks the Pastor and elders to intervene even though as a mother she could try to do it herself. This shows that she understands the limitations and strength of everyone.

To sum up, mothers are very important in their families since they play important roles in moulding and protecting their children. Thus, they are to be listened and supported rather than being ignored or taken to be inferior.

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