African Oral And Literary Epic English Literature Essay

Ngugi Washington Thiongos Matigari is a modern African heroic poem that castigates Western imperialism for its lip service and its gross development of the labor, working category. The quest for truth and justness serves as the steering force that motivates the actions of the novel ‘s heroic supporter – a supporter that Ngugi embellishes with stylistic elements that at the same time enhance the epic position of the character and service to supply the model for the novel ‘s heroic compositional construction. Features of traditional unwritten storytelling, knowing proposals of environmental ambiguity, repeat of cardinal rhetorical inquiries, noun-epithet phrases, accent on augmented or supernatural abilities, and scriptural allusions are all often used to convey Matigari ‘s cardinal subjects of truth, justness, and an on-going socio-economic power battle in ways that feel both philosophical and satirical at times, while wholly consistently traditional and legendary in signifier.

Ngugi Washington Thiong’o begins Matigari with a set of prefatory notes that should instantly supply penetration into the accent Ngugi topographic points on the importance of unwritten tradition. In Ngugi ‘s essay Decolonizing the Mind he writes, “ I would wish to see Kenya peoples ‘ mother-tongues ( our national linguistic communications! ) carry a literature reflecting the beat of a kid ‘s spoken look, ” ( Ngugi, 28 ) to convey his belief that unwritten tradition ( and, by extension, composing in one ‘s native linguistic communication ) is cardinal to the saving of local civilization. As such, it should come as no surprise to happen Ngugi ‘s prefatory notes addressed “ to the reader/listener ” . The construction of an unwritten heroic poem narration is farther evidenced by Ngugi ‘s attachment to traditional, formulaic gap rites:

“ So say yes, and I ‘ll state you a narrative!

Once upon a clip, in a state with no name… . “

These prefatory notes non merely set up an unwritten, presentational tone – their intent besides serves to present the novel ‘s scene and other introductory information. Possibly most curious about this debut is Ngugi ‘s soundness on suggesting geographical ambiguity. While character names and landscape/floral descriptions throughout the fresh strongly indicate a Kenyan scene, Ngugi insists on the narrative holding “ no fixed clip or infinite ” . This mythologisation of historical events – the knowing hyperbolic or antic representation of real-world scenes – contributes greatly to the stylistic construction and heroic composing of the novel. By touching to real-world locations while at the same time take a firm standing upon the scene ‘s vague nature, Ngugi allows his supporter the double capacity to move as both a national hero and as an international warrior for justness on behalf of the lower category.

Matigari ‘s narrative is divided into three parts, miming the debut — lifting action — decision three common to traditional folklore construction. Though each single portion exhibits alone facets in tone and compositional construction, Ngugi oddly ends each subdivision with the same inquiry ( merely somewhat reworded each clip ) . Separate one ends therefore: “ Still the inquiry remained: Who was Matigari mom Njiruungi? ” ( Ngugi, 54 ) . Separate two similarly terminals with: “ But who was Matigari mom Njiruungi? ” ( Ngugi, 107 ) . And Part three concludes with: “ Who was Matigari mom Njiruungi? Was he dead, or was he alive? ” ( Ngugi, 148 ) . Therefore, I believe Ngugi reveals the narration ‘s cardinal thematic inquiry: Who is Matigari? All of the novel ‘s characters ( both major and minor ) have immensely differing thoughts of who the supporter is, what he stands for, what he looks like, what his abilities are, and whether or non he is even existent:

“ They all shared the same hope: that a miracle should take topographic point. But at the same clip all wondered: who truly was Matigari mom Njiruungi? A nationalist? Angel Gabriel? Jesus Christ? Was he a human being or a spirit? A true or false prophesier? A Jesus or merely a moonstruck? Was Matigari a adult male or was he a adult female? A kid or an grownup? Or was he merely an thought, an image, in people ‘s heads? Who Was He? ” ( Ngugi,134 ) .

Matigari, the titular supporter, is a fable ; he is the heroic poem hero with a 1000 faces. His physical and moral traits, his funny relationship with both the natural and the supernatural, his deity-like demeanour, his defending for the laden lower-class, and the mutual nature of his interactions with people define his god-like, epic character as at the same time one of heroic poem proportions and one of modest relatability.

First I shall talk of Matigari ‘s model qualities – get downing with his really name. We are told his full name, Matigari ma Njiruungi, translates to “ the nationalists who survived the slugs ” ( Ngugi, 17 ) which references the nationalists who survived the release war, and their political progeny. From namesake entirely, we are already introduced to the heroic qualities of the supporter. Upon farther analysis of namesakes, we rapidly place one of Ngugi ‘s most widely-used stylistic elements to accomplish formulaic, heroic construction: the noun-epithet phrase. “ Settler Williams, ” “ Minister for Truth and Justice, ” “ His Excellency Ole Excellency, ” “ Giceru the betrayer ” or the “ Hooded Truth, ” “ Madam the Minister ‘s Wife, ” “ He-who-reaps-where-he-never-sowed, ” and others join the likes of “ Matigari mom Njiruungi ” as persons with epithetical names to efficaciously dramatise character traits in an about satirical mode that reflects the narrative ‘s epic signifier.

Matigari ‘s physical features similarly seem to perplex those whom he interacts with. His face frequently appears to morph back and Forth between young person and old age – frequently within a affair of seconds. “ Age crept back on his face ; the furrows seemed to hold increased and deepened. How everything had changed. What was this universe coming to? ” ( Ngugi, 25 ) contrasts aggressively with “ The bravery of truth had one time once more transformed him. It seemed to hold wiped age off his face, doing him look highly vernal ” ( Ngugi, 26 ) . Matigari ‘s physical size is besides cryptically inconsistent. At one point in the narrative, he is rumored to be “ a bantam, ordinary-looking adult male ” ( Ngugi, 63 ) , at another, he is presented as “ a tall, well-built, aged adult male ” ( Ngugi, 93 ) , and moreover it is at other times reported that “ The adult male is a elephantine ” ( 135 ) . These fluctuating, inconsistent physical features portray Matigari as a sort of universal, omnipresent figure. Much like an ethereal, ubiquitous God, Matigari is able to interact with all sorts of people from “ all four corners of the Earth. ”

Not uncommon to many of the great literary heroic poems of history is the thought that the hero must venture through – or suppress – that which is unaccessible to mere persons. In the Grecian “ Odyssey ” , Circe the temptress informs Odysseus that he must go to the underworld in chase of replies to elusive inquiries. In the Nordic “ Beowulf ” , Beowulf is tasked to convey an terminal to the beastly freak known as “ Grendel ” while merely utilizing his bare hands – a undertaking no mere person could perchance accomplish. Similarly, Ngugi paints his supporter with super-human, almost-god-like abilities: Matigari ‘s voice, for illustration, mimics the sound of boom ( Ngugi, 80, 124 ) ; his snore is “ like the boom of a king of beasts in the wilderness ” ( Ngugi, 137 ) ; his expression penetrates deep into one ‘s psyche ( Ngugi, 123 ) ; he has the ability to pass on with animate beings ( Ngugi, 143 ) ; he has a superhuman capacity to prolong and withstand both hunger and weariness ( Ngugi, 12 ) ; he fears no adult male but instead work stoppages fear into others ( Ngugi, 31, 114-15 ) . Such traits and abilities are bestowed upon merely those of unordinary illustriousness – therefore we view Matigari as a sort of superman at the really least. Ngugi ‘s usage of exaggeration in this instance serves to dramatise the hero ‘s character into heroic signifier and map. Matigari frequently finds himself in fortunes of such fortunate happenstance that his really fortune is frequently attributed to a similar “ favour of the Gods ” that ancient epic heroes such as Achilles, Hercules, and Hermes were blessed with. In these instances, the Gods – or the supernatural powers-that-be – aided their favorite heroes by providing them with particular tools or gifts… and, on juncture, by physically flexing the natural universe to accommodate their hero ‘s demands. Matigari is no different. The rocks that are hurled at him by kids, for case, are, at least ab initio, miraculously deflected ( Ngugi, 14 ) and he “ seemed to be protected by some charming power, for the slugs did non hit him… . It was as if on making him they turned into H2O ” ( Ngugi, 146 ) . Not merely are these unaccountable appeals merchandises of the supernatural, so excessively are the natural elements of fire and H2O that spontaneously occur without logical account merely when the hero needs them the most. The beginning of the climactic, explosive fire at Boy ‘s house and the cause of the immediate torrential flood at the novel ‘s decision are ne’er to the full explained. We, the readers/listeners, are left to merely wonder at their all-too-timely reaching which saves both the quest and the life of the heroic poem hero.

When speech production of the fable-like, supernatural undertones of Ngugi ‘s novel, it would about be condemnable non to advert the scriptural allusions – which range anyplace from ‘prominently featured ‘ to ‘repeatedly-in-your-face ‘ in their nuance – Ngugi makes usage of in the narrative to qualify his supporter. Though Matigari does in fact differ with Christ in a figure of ways ( notably Matigari ‘s vindictive strong beliefs and his credence for the usage of weaponries to accomplish desired outcomes ) , he is mostly depicted as the Jesus-like figure the populace and the authorities semen to at the same time fear and look up to. “ Our people, allow us portion this bean, and this bead of vino ” ( Ngugi, 46 ) is a clear allusion to Jesus ‘ Last Supper. Each of the captives ( all of whom are described in the noun-epithetical phrases Ngugi is so affectionate of ) parallels one of Jesus ‘ adherents. Additionally, Matigari ‘s picks to salvage Muriuki and Guthera ( a character who mirrors that of the scriptural Mary Magdalene in profession and in eventual redemption ) in the first tierce of the narrative service as illustrations of Matigari ‘s performed miracles. These characters reciprocate their luck by salvaging Matigari as some point subsequently on. Matigari ‘s release from prison by Guthera and his ulterior release from the mental infirmary by Muriuki shed light onto an emerging subject of reciprocality. Ngugi seems to propose that merely through integrity, strong belief, and selfless forfeit can the exploited lower category prevail over the opinion elite.

Though Matigari swims in a sea of grandiose word picture, Ngugi is careful non to lose the relatable human side of the character. While Matigari ma Njiruungi is a character of embellished gallantry, he is besides a title-holder of the on the job category who relates to the common adult male. As a nonliteral incarnation of the worker, Matigari frequently represents himself as a husbandman, mill manus, driver, seamster, soldier, nationalist, and builder ( Ngugi, 21-22, 38, 60, 74, 143 ) . Ngugi ‘s usage of two peculiar repeating motifs – the quest for truth and justness, and have oning the “ belt of peace ” – service to portray Matigari as a gallant, peaceable title-holder for a baronial, relatable cause. Therefore, Matigari is distanced from the likes of Achilles and Odysseus – renunciation bluster for empathic humbleness.

It is through all of these aforementioned stylistic techniques – the mold of traditional unwritten storytelling, knowing proposals of environmental ambiguity, repeat of cardinal rhetorical inquiries, noun-epithet phrases, accent on augmented or supernatural abilities, and scriptural allusions – that Ngugi successfully crafts a narrative that transcends the position of a mere published ‘story ‘ in favour of emulating an original, modern African heroic poem in both signifier and map. Ngugi wa Thiong’o ‘s calculated word picture of Matigari as both a epic, god-like hero and a relatable common adult male on a gallant pursuit for truth and justness earn the titular character both the rubrics of national hero and international societal title-holder that, when passed on from coevals to coevals through literary and unwritten tradition, transcend the heroic trial of clip.