52 pages 1 hour read

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o

Dreams in a Time of War

Nonfiction | Autobiography / Memoir | Adult | Published in 2005

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Pages 79-165

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Pages 79-90 Summary

Ngũgĩ describes three neighboring homesteads—those of Lord Kahahu, Baba Mũkũrũ (or Njingũ), and his father’s—to explain “three different models of modernity and tradition” that he grew up with (79). Ngũgĩ associates modernity with Lord Kahahu and his family, as they are Christian, formally educated, wear Westernized clothes, and are the first in his community to use modern technologies like mule-pulled plows, sawmills, and cars.

Ngũgĩ depicts Baba Mũkũrũ’s house as the antithesis of Kahahu’s. Baba Mũkũrũ follows the traditions of his ancestors, as seen by his adherence to rites of passage, like rebirthing ceremonies and circumcision rituals. He refuses to allow his children to attend missionary schools or church services and pressures them to wear traditional clothing. When a relationship develops between Kahahu’s oldest son and Baba Mũkũrũ’s daughter, turmoil ensues. The Kahahus refuse to accept that their son impregnated Baba Mũkũrũ’s daughter and send him to South Africa for school, further bolstering their progressive reputation.

Ngũgĩ’s father is neither a traditionalist nor a Christian but considers himself modern. His work experiences in Nairobi cause him to feel superior to his brother since he has firsthand knowledge of European customs. Meanwhile he regards Kahahu as a hypocrite who stole his land yet still preaches Christian values.