Christianity in Early Kenyan Novels: Ngugi Wa Thiong’o’s Weep Not, Child and The River Between
A dominant feature in the novels of Ngugi Wa Thiong'o is the way he presents Christians and Christianity, at best as indifferent to the plight of the majority of the people, and at worst as accomplices in institutionalized exploitation, humiliation and dehumanization of the greater majority. Parts of the explanation for Ngugi's impatience with Christianity lie, perhaps equally, in his childhood experiences as a colonial subject who was coerced into recognizing Christianity as equivalent to Western civilization, as well as his later encounter with Marxist thought that associated religion with the systematized economic exploitation of the majority of people. Yet as a model of spiritual organization, Christianity has no doubt played an important role in fashioning past and present individual and group identities with regard to existing structures of power, which is probably why Ngugi is unable to narrate the experiences of his people without allocating a remarkably large space to it. In light of this, we read the two novels as attempts by the writer to project the trauma caused by and the tensions of Christianity among the colonized subjects as important influences in the formation and development of (post)colonial Kenyan subjects.
Key Words: Ngugi Wa Thiong'o, Christianity, postcolonial, subjects.